A Day In The Life Of An OB Charge Nurse

The OB charge nurse. I will talk about what I do from the moment I walk in the door until I clock out. I will include my daily tasks, some situations I am dealt with, and how prioritizing is key to the charge nurse role. Specialties Ob/Gyn Nurse Life


"All you do is sit around until a baby is born," "your job must be great, all you do is sit and hold babies", "be happy, you're in the happy part of the hospital." I have heard it all. My job as an OB charge nurse is nothing like sitting around, holding babies in the happy part of the hospital. Many of you know that OB nurses care for the fetal demises that come through the unit, but we also see much more unhappiness. Abused mothers, drug addicts, and drama within the families are more common than the hard-working, married couple with jobs in the world. That's not to say I don't love my job; I love my job.

A Day In The Life Of An OB Charge Nurse

 5:00 am  Wake up and get ready for my day. If I don't start the day with a cup of coffee, I will have a headache by 7 am, so there's where it starts. I get showered, make sure my family is set for their day, and off I go.

 6:20 am  I arrive to work. Yes, I am one of those. My shift doesn't start until 7 am, but I need to know what I am in for. I get dressed into my fancy scrubs, work shoes, and pull out my nurse toolkit (pens, highlighter, pencil, stethoscope, badge, vocera holder, and notepad), and head to the breakroom. I always put fresh coffee on for my coworkers. Always take care of your tribe. I may or may not take a cup with me, depends if my son was up during the night (so usually yes).

 6:50 am  I glance at the hallway. I can tell you if the night was bad or not if the hallway is a mess. Somehow, before 7:00 am, everything is cleaned up. We have the respect for each other not to leave a mess. Take care of your tribe.

 6:58 am  I am awaiting my crew. I glance at the assignments and plan (ha) how the day will run. Here they come, "coffee's on, ladies.", and we await the report.

 7:00 am  We listen to report about the floor, not a detailed report, but enough to get us an overview of who is in labor, who has issues everyone should be aware of (family drama usually), and what is scheduled that day. I take over as the charge nurse and tell my coworkers what I will do for them. Sometimes, I am lucky enough not to have a patient to start with; I am pretending this is one of those days.

 7:15 am  I say goodbye to the night shift, and offer them a cup of coffee. Wish them a safe drive home, and say a little prayer for each of their safety (take care of your tribe). I start my QC checks. I always will start with my operating rooms. There are two of them. I have a scrub nurse, but I always try to make sure these are ready to go because you never know what the day will bring. I check all of the QCs in the unit, including, three crash carts, refrigerator temps, discard old medications or specimens, clean dirty equipment (even though I have an aide, don't ever think you are too good for any job), and check to make sure I have some labor rooms set, as well as a triage room. If I can get through that without too many interruptions, it's a good day. I think about my family, try to call my husband, sometimes, I just get a text from him letting me know everyone is off to school and that he made it to work.

 8:00 am  Our first scheduled inductions is usually scheduled at this time. I help as much as I can with that patient, as well as answer phone calls from various departments, answer physician questions about patients, and start getting the postpartum patients ready for discharge or post op care.

 9:00 am  The lactation nurse arrives (thank goodness). Breastfeeding, as natural as it is, is always a problem. Some baby can't latch on; another mother has flat nipples, and another wonders if her baby is getting enough milk. There is only one lactation consultant and limited nurses. I step in to help who I can, when I can.

 11:00 am  The pediatrician arrives, and the Pitocin is started on our inductions to try to have new babies by the end of our shift, ideally. Now, the office is calling. They are sending over a patient who thinks her water broke at 4 am this morning, every 10-minute contractions and hasn't felt the baby move. There goes any lunch I thought I might get that afternoon.

 12:00 pm  The triage patient arrives, it turns out I know her, or she knows me. I delivered her last baby. I don't remember her, but she said she'd never forget me. That's why I do this; I tell myself. The day is good. I am in the happy part of the hospital, but still haven't held a baby, or sat down. I check to see if she has ruptured her bag of water, it is not, but she is 5 centimeters, and she's due. Let's have a baby! I phone the physician, admit her into the computer, and start her IV.

 1:00 pm  Another call from the office, they will be sending over a patient for a repeat c section, she is in labor, or sounds like it from the phone call. I have the aide prep a bed for a section (we add a different mattress), and go through my nurses to see who could take the next patient. Everyone is crabby, I take that back, hangry. No one has eaten lunch yet, and the pediatrician just left. She put in her orders for discharge, but the first patient to go isn't going to leave until 2 pm. Unfortunately, that nurse will have to take the c-section.

 2:00 pm  My patient needs an epidural, she's booming contractions out and cannot take it anymore. She is 6 cm. The c-section patient has arrived, she ate an 8:00 am, but is contracting. The doctor says to get her admitted, and we'll have to do her c section. I am trying to find an assistant, let other nurses know, the anesthesiologist, and try to prep my patient for an epidural and delivery.

 3:00 pm  My patient received her epidural. She is progressing! I need to find a nurse who will help me with my delivery. In the midst of the patient relaxing after her epidural, her blood pressure drops to 60/40; she is symptomatic, and the baby is in distress. I push ephedrine with the physician at the bedside, as well as administer O2 via facemask, bolus more fluids, and pray that the baby recovers, or we will be going back to the OR before the other patient.

 4:00 pm  Thankfully, the baby ("my baby" is what we always say when it's our own patient) has improved. The C-section patient is ready to have a baby. Prepping the OR and counting the instruments, as well as arraigning a code pink team, and the team prepares for delivery. The patient is prepped for spinal anesthesia and laid down to a left tilt. The circulator takes over, on her own, and back to the floor I go before my patient delivers. I make a second batch of coffee because I didn't eat. I sneak a cookie from the break room for my breakfast and lunch.

 5:30 pm  The c-section went well, mom and baby are recovering. My patient is 8 cm and sleeping. We're tired and ready to go home. I figure out staffing for the night shift and clean the triage beds from earlier. Just in time, another triage patient arrives who is bleeding. I find another nurse for, and luckily, after an hour, that patient is safe to go home.

 6:30 pm  Almost quitting time, but wait, my patient is complete and ready to have her baby! I prep her for delivery.

 6:52 pm  Delivery time! The patient delivers a healthy baby girl with no problems. I can have a nurse step in my place at 7:00 pm.

 7:00 pm  The upcoming shift received a report. I stop and say thank you to all my coworkers for their help. Always take care of your tribe.

Throughout my day, you will notice, I held no babies. I did everything but sit, and that day, no sadness, but always lots of drama. If you want an adrenaline rush and an ever changing day, become a labor and delivery charge nurse. You have to be able to multitask and think on your toes, and you must always remember to take care of your tribe!

Specializes in Nurse Health Writer / Author.
Seasonednurse1 said:
Was pre-eclamptic with my first pregnancy, My 27 week daughter did not survive (1976). Never thought for a moment that you have an easy job. Forever grateful for the kindness and compassion shown to us during that difficult time. We need to always put ourselves in others' shoes.

So so sorry for your loss :( Thank you for your kindness and recognition.

Specializes in Oncology, LDRP, Case Management.

Great article Janine! It reminded me of my days in OB :) I love how you "take care of your tribe"

Specializes in Nurse Health Writer / Author.
StayAtHomeNurse said:
Great article Janine! It reminded me of my days in OB ? I love how you "take care of your tribe"

Thank you so much ?

Great article. I have been a nurse for almost 2 years. I have a year in psyche and I recently transferred to med-surg. My goal is to get into maternity. Any advice?

Specializes in Nurse Health Writer / Author.

What is holding you back?

My advice, apply for the next open position!!

Get in there!


Andrea Piccinini said:
Great article. I have been a nurse for almost 2 years. I have a year in psyche and I recently transferred to med-surg. My goal is to get into maternity. Any advice?
Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Great article You guys work hard! Your patients are never stable in that their condition changes by the hour.

Specializes in Nurse Health Writer / Author.
Nurse Beth said:
Great article You guys work hard! Your patients are never stable in that their condition changes by the hour.

SO true!!

Thank you ?