How did you come to work as an obstetrics nurse?
During my childhood and adolescence, I had a great deal of exposure to the pregnancy and birth experience process. My sister gave birth to 4 children and my cousin was being schooled as an obstetrician. My family told magnificent stories of the birthing process. I found it to be very fascinating and was curious to learn more about the process.
What are some of the challenges that come along with the OB Nurse role?
The role of the OB nurse is intellectually stimulating, emotionally engaging, and completely physical. A nurse bonds with the mother who is going through the labor process. The mother looks to her for encouragement and support. You teach her about all the changes which will be happening with her body throughout the process. You encourage her and her husband and/or her family. You become a team in the birth of their baby. It is physically demanding for both the mother and the caregiver. You are helping her change positions throughout labor, walking in the halls, teaching her the different techniques of pushing in the second stage of labor. You become so engrossed with Mom and baby, you feel you have given birth at the end of the day. It is true elation as the baby emerges into the outside world. I still cry at the birth of a baby. It is a miracle.
Can you give us a kind of 9-5 of a day in the life of an OB nurse?
A nurse will receive report from the off going nurse as they both round on their patients. Usually the nurse will start the shift with 2 patients in active labor. The nurse will divide her time between both of her mothers, teaching, encouraging, administering medications, and offering support. As one of her Moms advances to the 2nd stage of labor, the nurse will give report to her Buddy (a nurse in L&D who has received information on a group of patients). The Buddy will take over the care of the Mom who is in active labor while I am preparing for the birth of the baby. The nurse remains 1:1 in the birthing room with Mom and her family until 1 hour after the birth of the baby. During this time Mom is pushing during the second stage. The nurse is actively participating in the pushing process and she is setting up the environment for the baby’s arrival. Once baby is born the nurse will assess the baby, introduce the baby to the breast, assess the bonding process, and make sure Mom is comfortable and her body is responding appropriately to the birth of her child.
With the increase of Caesarean Section rates, the OB nurse may be caring for a Mom who is not progressing in labor or the baby’s heart rate becomes bradycardic. This may lead to surgery and the OB nurse would accompany the Mom to the operating room. The OB nurse would circulate in the operating room and make sure that the infant resuscitation team is called to assess the baby. The baby would remain with Mom in the operating room if both Mom and Baby were stable. The OB nurse would care for Mom and Baby in the PACU.
An OB nurse would also triage patients prior to the Moms being admitted to the Labor and Delivery unit. The nurse would find out the chief complaint of the Mom. Assess the Mom and establish the fetal well being of the fetus. Once a provider makes the decision on the disposition of the Mom, the nurse would educate the Mom and transfer her to a labor room, operating room or possibly discharge the Mom with an order from the provider.
What were your favorite things about working in that department?
The biggest event of a woman’s life is the experience of childbirth. Knowing you make a difference in this experience is awesome. Watching a baby come into this world is such a beautiful and rewarding experience. It is a privilege to be a witness at such an event.
Nowadays lets say a nurse wanted to get into obstetrics or into the NICU, what is the best route to that job?
While a student nurse is in college, I recommend that she/he complete their senior practicum either in a L&D or NICU setting. The nurse will have a full semester immersed the birth experience or the NICU experience. If this is unattainable, I would recommend completing 1 year of Medical/Surgical nursing to gain experience as a new nurse. Usually a manager does not hire a new graduate in L&D or NICU unless they have experience beyond the customary college experience.