What does your labor and delivery nurse do? How many nurses will you have, can they deliver the baby — and what do you do if they’re rude? This post is ALL about L&D nurses from your favorite labor nurse.
It’s easy to think that nurses just give shots and put in IV’s. But, there is a lot that your labor nurse is doing behind the scenes. What exactly DOES your labor nurse do all day and what do you do if you don’t like her?
First off, who am I, and why do I have a clue about what a labor nurse does?
First off, hello! I’m Hilary — many people know me as The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind this website Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 Yup, I’ve spent many many hours in labor and delivery at different hospitals, so I think I’m actually an expert on this one.
I’d love to help you through your pregnancy too:
So, let’s answer it.
What does a labor and delivery nurse do?
Can your nurse deliver your baby?
The short answer, yes.
The long answer, no. The nurse should NOT deliver the baby. But I certainly HAVE delivered babies before.
One of our jobs is to make sure your doctor knows when to come, so we make sure that happens. If they miss the delivery, it will come back to us to see what we did wrong (and sometimes, we didn’t do anything wrong, babies just decide to come fast sometimes).
It is not in a nurse’s “scope of practice” to deliver babies — but in emergencies it does happen.
Labor & Delivery Charting
Loads and loads of charting.
Labor & Delivery is one of the most litigious areas in the world. We live in constant fear of being sued and our charting shows. There are times that we chart every 15 minutes on you and your baby for hours on end. EVERY. FIFTEEN. MINUTES. Crazy, right?
Most places in the hospital, you get an assessment plus a few vitals every four hours and that’s it.
So, when you see her typing away — it’s likely all numbers and values that are meaningless to anyone else (and likely also meaningless to the world and entirely useless).
Related post: Bad things about being a registered nurse
She is watching you
When my trainer trained me, she told me to know everything that’s going on with my patient without looking at the monitor or checking her cervix. How is she feeling, what’s her color — the sound of her moans. It really can tell your nurse a whole lot.
Also, if you want a photo — don’t hesitate to ask her to take a picture of you guys — I’m always happy to do things like that.
I’m like a boy scout. I love to be prepared. I have your epidural stuff ready. I am getting stuff ready for delivery. I’m constantly getting stuff ready for the next step.
And yes, if things aren’t going well — I may be prepping your C-section. Doctors want us to be two steps ahead of them. We’re superheroes like that.
If YOU are looking to get prepared, check out The Online Prenatal Class — it’s one of the longest running (and most updated) hospital-based prenatal classes on the internet.
Watching all the patients
When we’re not in our room, we are likely at the nurses’ station watching all the strips. We’re seeing if anyone needs help or could use a hand. We’re seeing if someone else needs something prepped.
We are a total team. We have to be — one human can’t often do what we need to do. Having co-workers that have your back is essential. I have always been very lucky with the ladies I work with.
Calling your doctor
It’s our job to keep them updated on you and your baby’s well-being. It’s our job to know when they want a call and when they don’t.
We all work on ESP (mainly when we get an earful about how they DID or DID NOT need that phone call). Super fun.
BTW, dealing with doctors is probably the hardest part of our job.
It is our job to be your doctor’s eyes and ears. I know a lot of people get nervous that their doctor isn’t there — but we are there and we have built a great deal of trust in each other.
Training to be a Labor & Delivery Nurse
We have courses and classes we have to take. We have certifications we need and they all require upkeep. We’re reading new literature and reading new articles. We’re discussing them as a staff to see how we can best implement them.
We’re learning about new supplies and new policies. They’re always updating.
Often we’re in another room with our other patient. In general, if you’re in labor, we won’t have more than 2 patients. Although, if you’re in triage — we can have more than 2 patients. And, when life goes insane — we might have more than 2 patients. Yes, I’ve delivered in hallways and in wheelchairs. It is what it is. At least it wasn’t in their car — right?
We pee and eat, but it’s rare. I’ve had plenty of times that I didn’t get a lunch break. Life goes on — what I do need is eyes on your monitor all the time and if that can’t happen — I don’t go.
We are truly your lifeline. Take us for that. Ask us questions, tell us what is making you nervous so we can help calm you.
We deliver every day. It’s our job, we love it, and we’re here to help.
Sometimes, people wonder what they can do as a gift for their labor and delivery nurse << I have a post all about that.
And finally, what do you do about a…
Rude Labor And Delivery Nurse?
Well, I answer this pretty completely in my prenatal class — but the short answer is that you can ask for the charge nurse to see if there can be a change. Sometimes there can and sometimes there can’t.
BUT, hospitals want you to be happy with your stay — so try to communicate with management if you are unhappy. And, if a change can’t be made — try to make the best of it.
If you’re not quite ready for that one — check out my free class:
This post was originally written in 2017, and has been updated.