Lies from a Labor and Delivery Nurse

You’re 9cm. Ok, you might really be complete and +1. But trust me, five minutes of pushing feels like an hour and I’m really doing both of us a favor.  Labor down!

No, you aren’t pooping when you push. We’re just trying not to talk. Or breathe. But rest assured, we’ll clean it up as quick as we can, because we know that other people in the room may not have a poker face as good as ours. And if  you do realize you’re pooping, we’ll pull out that old preschool saying and tell you that everyone poops.

That’s a big baby for youReally, you may have just been a bad pusher. Don’t feel bad, sometimes those epidurals can numb everything right up.

Yes, that was a big contraction. Trust me sister, if you’re talking about how ‘big’ the contraction is, it wasn’t that big. Wait until you want to punch someone in the face for looking at you the wrong way. And p.s., external monitors can’t tell us how “strong” your contractions are, they just basically tell us when you’re having one. We can only really tell how hard your contractions are by putting our hands on your belly.

I never miss an IV. Uhhh, I miss IVs all the time. I’m pretty good, but sometimes veins roll, sometimes they’re flat, sometimes they’re deep, and sometimes I just miss. Sometimes you barely touch them with the IV catheter and they blow. All I know is, I will find a way to make it not my fault…Ohhh, you’re veins are so tiny. Are you a smoker? Do you drink enough water? I told you not to move.

You are my only patient. If we’re taking care of you, we’re also taking care of your baby, and they count as a patient too. On top of that, labor nurses have to “watch” everyone else’s patients. All the time. Because if any baby crashes, everyone has to be prepared to help out —minutes matter.

We’re wearing this mask when you get an epidural because we want to minimize the risk of you getting an infection. Really, your breath just stinks. Most places don’t make us wear a mask if we’re standing in front of you and not behind you, where all the action is happening.  One word: halitosis. Not everyone has stinky breath, but usually that’s the last thing on your mind when you’ve been laboring all night. I get it! I’m just still going to wear my mask.

We’re doing a perineal wash with Hibiclens when you’re admitted because that’s just what we do.  Or we may not be able to handle the smell. On a better note, we will not remember what your vagina looked like/smelled like/felt like 5 seconds after walking out of your room. Guaranteed.

No, I don’t think it’s weird that you want your brother or dad in your room when you deliver.  To each their own…but seriously, this is a little strange.  And by the way, they never stay at the head of the bed…

You have my favorite provider. You might have our favorite provider, but you might have one that we think is a complete prick. We’ll still tell you they’re our favorite provider because they’re your provider. But as your labor nurse, regardless if we like your provider or not, we will fight for anything that we think is right for you. We’re like lawyers that way.

I love your baby’s name. In my head, I’m screaming WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!? In fact, if I really don’t like your baby’s name, I’ll literally try to say it 100 times before you deliver, hoping that you’ll hear it and realize how crazy it sounds.

Press the call-light if you need anything. What we really mean to say is, press the call-light if you need anything important. And if you need anything that anyone else in your room can help you with, ask them first.  I’m just saying there are ten people in your room that can get you more ice.  Just throwing that out there.

I’m not sick, it’s just allergies.  Ok, I might be sick. All I know is, I’m not dying and I don’t have a fever greater than 101. I just don’t want to leave my coworkers in a bind. And I don’t have any more PTO. And if I call in one more time I might get fired…

I can’t stay to deliver you because I have to pick up my daughter from her babysitter. What I really mean to say is that if I come home late from work one more day this week, my husband might divorce me and my daughter may stop calling me mom. But I do wish I could be there for your delivery.  Just not that bad.

There’s no more pain after you deliver the baby.  This is something we say to give you a little extra urge to push when it counts the most.  And although it’s true that the pain you will have after you deliver a baby vaginally is nothing compared to the pain you feel when you are actually trying to push that baby out, it’s still a baby, coming out of your vagina. It’s going to be a little sore! But again, it will be nothing like it was when you were actually pushing.  And don’t get me started on cesarean deliveries…

I talk to your provider all day long.  Okay, we called them when you got here, and we’ll call them again when your baby is crowning. If I had to call them at any other time between those two events, it was to report something that wasn’t going too well.

It’s okay that you screamed at us/tried to hit us/acted like a complete psycho during labor.  We were really gritting our teeth while we tried to calm down the crazy, and depending on your level of craziness, we may have even talked about you in the lounge. But trust me, you weren’t the first and you will not be the last, so don’t sweat it (we don’t!).  And, it gives us all something to laugh about.

Until my next delivery.

p.s. Labor nurses love their patients! That’s the only reason we can keep doing it day after day.  MUCH love to all my patients out there…even the ones that have bit me, kicked me, or called me names

Shelly Lopez Gray is the author of Adventures of a Labor and Delivery Nurse

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