Published Jun 26, 2009
During our three year struggle w/ infertility and then a high risk pregnancy, I learned a lot about women's health and pregnancy. I enjoy the topic and think that once I finish school I would love to work in L&D. I am of course aware that not all people that have babies are good parents but figured the happy situations would outweigh the unpleasant ones enough to keep from getting jaded and burnt out.
I was speaking w/ a fellow nursing student the other day who said she was really upset by her clincial rotation in OB. She said that she coudln't stand the thought of those babies going home w/ most of her patients. She had several who were already involved w/ CPS, a few who had babies test positive for drugs, several YOUNG teens who were apparently more concerned w/ what was going on in her social set then feeding her baby, one teen mom that spent her stay yelling at the nurse to "shut her kid up", a case of "whose the daddy" that got ugly, etc etc etc.
Are cases like these really that prevelent? How do you deal w/ these parents? What about the woman w/ low pain tolerances that scream for their entire 12 hours of labor? I have a somewhat low tolerance for the over dramatic and think that may be an issue for me in L&D.
to those who are bothered by punctuation/spelling, etc, please just skip my post! it's not terribly important or interesting...just my little old opinion...
at one point i dreamed of working L&D. there is just nothing in the world cooler to me than the whole conception, pregnancy, labor and birth of humans. after a while i learned that as a nurse, i was happiest when i dealt with the type of person i want as a patient. and thank god it takes all kinds, because my perfect job isn't someone elses!! i like to have a relationship with my patients (med/surg, L&D, quick patient turnover: not for me). i like my patients to realize how important i am in their care and respect my education and knowledge. this can be many types of nursing. i am touchy-feely--i want to hold your hand and hug you. therefore, the perfect job for me is outpatient oncology. the doctors do NOT get all the credit--they know who we nurses have a large impact in the decisions in their care. plus, in outpatient folks are usually continent and i am a big fan on not cleaning hineys too often (once in a while i don't mind, because i love them so much!).
the reason i am telling you this is because even though i thought i wanted L&D because i am so interested in that, i learned that a woman in labor and her partner do not often behave in the way i want them to! apparently they get cranky and yell and husbands demand we DO SOMETHING when the mommy is hurting. who knew? plus, hospital births are often rushed along with pitocin instead of being the natural beautiful thing i want them to be (maybe i shoulda been a doula). and if a separate unit, the post partum nurse is the one who has to deal mostly with the family after birth. so, the family dynamics of the people you mentioned in your post won't be as prevalent in L&D as they would be in postpartum.
for the record, when i did post partum, the young girls were often too shell shocked to not do what we say, when we were teaching feeding and changing and baby care. but i worked in a very fancy hospital that had celebrities and very rich folks, and they were often the most difficult. i even had one mom say, "you can just change the diapers because once we get home, the nanny is going to be the one to do it." or they wanted to do all the baby care during the day, but they were just so tired at 3am, could i wake them up in a hour to do it?
in all specialties of nursing you will be confronted with the people in society that are not nice and take advantage of the system and do horrible things. and there are always more of them than you thought. but, if you find the right area for you--L&D, med/surg, psych, whatever, you will be able to muscle through those types. i am still not used to it after years of dealing with all types. it is one of the things that makes nursing so stressful. it DOES make us jaded and burnt out. sometimes. you have to give good care to people who seem to not deserve it. hopefully you learn good coping skills and maintain boundaries in such a way that you can keep your heart loving while not letting the crap get to you. it's hard. it's very hard. but you keep trying and yes, the good often does outweigh the bad. sorry to be so long-winded. i think you asked a very thought provoking question. the great thing about nursing is that if you think you will love L&D and you don't---you can always do something else! good luck!
I have been a L&D nurse for 3 years. I have my share of pts who have attitudes, feel that they are in a hotel, worry more about Daddy than the baby, etc... but I also have wonderful moments where the family thanks me for being there, hugs from emotional and greatful family members, pictures for the baby book. It is great. When a new mom sees her baby for the first time the look on her face is priceless. I love being part of a miracle every night at work. That being said, I think it is a certain kind of nurse who can deal with the high emotions of L&D. You definantly have to be able to handle an adrenaline rush on occasion. There are bad moments, not finding a fetal heart rate and the sinking feeling of what comes next, the dad or family who is upset because the epidural isn't coming fast enough. In seconds the normal can become an emergency and the whole POC can change. But it is an AMAZING job. So yes, for me the good outweighs the bad. Always.:heartbeat
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