Nursing student on a high risk OB unit... what to expect?

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    Hi all! I'm a second year nursing student, and I'm heading to OB clinicals in a couple of weeks. I will be spending 1 day in a high risk unit, 2 days in L&D, and 1 day in post partum. I've always dreamed of being an OB nurse, and I really want to impress my clinical coach... I'm hoping to get some tips on how to prepare for working with OB patients, especially on a high risk unit. Any info/tips/advice would be appreciated!! Thank you so much!!
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    Do you know how many births the hospitals has each year? Maternity clinicals can be such a hit or miss! You could see lots of stuff or you might twiddle your thumbs a lot. I guess it really depends on how much you know also. There were students in my clinical who had 1 goal and that was to see a woman in real labor. The problem is that those student were expecting what they see in movies - women panting and screaming and babies delivered very fast! Most women get epidurals so labor is little more than laying in bed. L&D can be a pretty sensitive area too - you don't want to try to jump in and "help" with anything that you aren't familiar with. If a baby is born in distress, you'll be observing as the NICU teams work. I actually really liked getting post partum assignments. I breastfed my 3 kids and I feel very passionately about it so I would try to visit moms that were breastfeeding. In one case, the mom was trying to get the hang of nursing and the RN walked out of her. So I jumped in! In another case, I had a post-c-section mom whose baby was in the NICU. The RN warned my professor that mom was "difficult" and laying in bed crying. My professor started hesitating about sending in a student until I assure her that I could handle a weepy post partum mom. Turns out, patient was not difficult at all! She was simply overwhelmed and needed to voice her feelings. She also needed to get out of bed (it had been 17 hours since her c-section) and get to the NICU to see her baby. I got on top of the RN and my professor about what we could do to help mom.

    A lot of maternity is teaching so make sure you really know your stuff going into clinical. A lot of women have unrealistic expectations. I had one mom they were trying to induce. She was shocked that her friend was made to labor for a whole 10 hours before they "finally gave her a c-section." I had to educate her on the fact that first time labors are typically a lot longer than 10 hours (without inserting my not-so-kind-opinions of the doctor who sectioned her friend after just 10 hours).

    The other thing that i might suggest is to go in with the passion of a student. A lot of this stuff becomes routine to some maternity nurses (not all!!! but you'll recognize the ones that are just going about doing their job). One nurse told me that, to her, "it was no longer the miracle of life." Try to see things through the parents' eyes! The nurse I just mentioned was taking care of a baby in the NICU. She kind of ignored the father the whole time (mom was in c-section recovery). I finally told dad that he could touch his daughter. After she was stabilized, he just stood there and stared at her; he didn't realize it was ok to touch her! And if you find a nurse that really shows passionate, see if you can be assigned to her patients. The head of the NICU treated all the NICU babies like they were her own and I really enjoyed learning from her (as opposed to the "it's no longer the miracle of life" nurse).

    Also, if things are slow, see if you can follow the NICU team or the lactation consultant.
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    Thank you, rbytsdy! I really enjoyed reading your reply! I can tell you're a very thoughtful and caring nurse.

    I'm not sure how many births the hospital has per year, but I'll have to look that up. I was actually born in the same hospital, so it's a cool feeling to get to go back to the place where it all started. lol

    I've heard that labor and delivery can be a hit or miss... hopefully I'll get some hits! I was hoping for more than one day on postpartum because that's the area I'm really interested in. One of my favorite things about nursing is educating patients, and I know there's a ton of that on postpartum. I've had three babes myself (one of them born 2 months ago!), all c-sections, and had many nurses that were definitely jaded with their jobs. As a new mom, it can bring you down when your nurse isn't warm or caring. I'm glad that I've had those experiences though, because I know exactly what it's like to be in the parent's shoes. I agree with you, I don't think I could ever see it as anything less than a miracle. I'm excited that I'll get to (hopefully) witness some little miracles .

    Thank you again!!


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