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Adventures in Labor and Delivery


Reflection of being a labor and delivery nurse, my experience as a nurse, some history of obstetric nursing.

by JoAnn1973 JoAnn1973 (New)

Specializes in Women’s Health. Has 10 years experience.

Have You Considered a Career as a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Adventures in Labor and Delivery

I was an insurance agent for many years but the voice that reminded me of my dream was always there. I think what took me so long to go back to school was fear. The fear that I may not pass and become a nurse. One day I was visiting my friend after she had her baby and I decided to push that fear aside and make the leap. I had to go back to school and become a labor and delivery nurse.

A Brief History

I am going to tell you a little bit of history about women’s health. Women gave birth primarily at home with either a midwife or a family member who was familiar with the birthing process. Obstetric nursing surfaced in the mid-19th century in response to changes in societal views and increased medical management pushed childbirth into the hospital (Rinker). Over time obstetric nursing has changed but one thing remained the same, care for the patient is protection, emotional support, and education/teaching. It is important for the nurse to establish a good trusting relationship with the patient and her family. I also wanted to add an important breakthrough in women’s health. Through his study of vaginal cytology George Nicholas Papanicolaou created the Papanicolaou test also known as the pap smear (Siang & Tatsumura). This creation helped many women get early detection of cervical cancer and saved women’s lives.

My Dream

My dream was to be a labor and delivery nurse but as a new grad I was not able to get a position on a labor and delivery unit. So, I apply to a med/surg unit. I was elated and scared that I was able to work as a nurse. I remember during nursing school my professors telling me when a doctor came to the nurse’s station, I was to give up my seat to the doctor. I kept that with me during my time on the med/surg unit. After a year of being on a med/surg unit I had the opportunity to apply for a labor and delivery position at the hospital I was working at. Another time of elation and being scared. During my time as a labor delivery nurse I discovered I did not have to give up my seat to the doctor. The doctors saw me as a peer and fellow provider. They asked me for my opinion and respected my input.

Novice Nurse

Going into labor and delivery as a novice nurse I was naive about it. It is not all rainbows and butterflies. It is not like it is in the movies or television where you come to hospital, deliver, here’s baby, and you look like you were never pregnant. I have experienced times a patient coming in and delivering in a very short time after arriving. I can tell you that it’s not always as easy as it looks on television. Birth can be messy but it’s a beautiful experience to be part of. I have been doing the adventures of a labor and delivery nurse for 9 years. There have been highs and lows throughout the years. There have been tears of joy and tears of heartache. I have shared laughter with my patient. I have felt fear for the safety of patient. My fellow OB nurses and I often refer to labor and delivery as an emergency room. Sometimes we do not know what is going to walk through the door. We must be prepared for anything.

Connecting with the Patient

I am not going to bore with the medical portion of caring for a patient. I want to tell you about the connection with the patient. I am the woman’s coach when her partner is uncertain. I am her focal point when she is breathing through the contractions. When the patient thinks she isn’t “doing it right” I reassure her as she progresses through labor. I am the partner’s cheerleader when he/she is right there supporting the patient. For the brief amount of time I am caring for my patient I am a temporary part of her family as we anticipate the joyous arrival of her baby. Where there is joy there is also grief. During this time, I can tell what is needed from me. I am a silent supporter, quietly performing my duties as her care giver and provide additional support when needed. I am the physical and emotional support to help her and her family process this heartbreaking experience. This heartbreaking experience is the part of being an obstetric nurse.  We are here to help bring life into this world and to help prepare the family for death. It is an honor to be part of the birthing of a family’s newest family member. It is an honor to help a grieving family grieve their loss.

I love being an obstetric nurse.


Sylvia D. Rinker, RN, PhD: The Real Challenge: Lessons From Obstetric Nursing History

Siang Yong Tan, MD, JD and Yvonne Tatsumura, MA, MD: George Papanicolaou (1883–1962): Discoverer of the Pap smear

Antonia M. Nelson: The evolution of professional obstetric nursing in the United States (1880′s-present): Qualitative content analysis of specialty nursing textbooks

Mother of two children, labor and deliver nurse of 9 years, and current RN to BSN student.

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2 Comment(s)


Specializes in Sm Bus Mgmt, Operations, Planning, HR, Coaching. Has 39 years experience.

Thanks JoAnn1973 for giving us a glimpse into your work as a labor and delivery nurse.  It is fun to read about someone that is so passionate about their work.  We appreciate you sharing that passion with allnurses.


Specializes in Women’s Health. Has 10 years experience.

Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to read it!

Edited by JoAnn1973