Entering A Women's World..........

Posted
by Just1Question (New) New

When I entered nursing school, I was certain my goal would be critical care. I thought the lure of intense nature of the work would capture me. I was unconcerned that the deaths would get to me - I felt my upbringing on the farm made me immune to such emotion. I got a job in the ICU (PCA) a little under a year ago and I am wavering on my convictions - I don't really like critically ill patients and my farm experience didn't make me tough enough!

My wife is pregnant and I am having a fantastic time being a long for the ride. This past week at my pediatric rotation the census was low on the peds floor so someone had to float to maternity - I was the drawn out the hat. The nurse I was with was amazing - she introduced me and every family welcomed me to care for the patriarch and the baby. I did a lot of assessments, saw a baby be born, took care of the newborn, participatied in education, etc. To date I have never felt so overwhelmed and confident all at the same time. After we had finished up, she complimented me on my work and said that I should strongly consider L&D nursing - it had never crossed my mind before.

Since then the thought of being an L&D nurse has entered my mind and become lodged firmly in my aspirations - I am even thinking that in the future I might even continue to become a midwife. My problem is we did our maternity at a different facility and as the only male in the class I was clearly discriminated against. In 6 weeks, I took care of 2 babies whose mothers were discharged, after my instructor spoke to them they gave me a postpartum mother, who was discharged before I finished getting report (they said it was bad luck), and the other three weeks they let me look at charts and watch the shaken baby video (multiple times). The nurses would instruct the other students that I was no invited in the delivery suite, without even asking the patient.

My goal of entering L&D nursing is not to be a male nursing renegade, it is I truly because think pregnancy and birth is magical. I love strong families, new babies and educating everyone to become one strong harmonious team. The birthing mother I took care of thanked me profusely for caring for her and her baby - even took a picture of us. I previously did EKGs and never had a lady request a female tech and although birthing is slightly more intimate I am not convinced many women would be put off by a male nurse and I fully understand if they would rather a female.

How common is a male L&D nurse? Do you think a lot of centers although never admitting it will not hire a male for this role? Am I under estimating how many patients will ask for a different nurse? Any and all advice is appreciated. I just want to make sure I am not wasting my time on something unobtainable.

Thanks for all your advice.

LadyAscheRN

16 Posts

I just wanted to share with you that when I had my daughter back in 2000, I had a male OB nurse, and he was FANTASTIC. In fact, the experience I had, as a patient (long before I even thought of being a nurse!) was one of the things that eventually convinced me to become a nurse myself nearly a decade later.

While I won't say they are common, I personally know 3 male L&D/OB nurses. And while I am sure there are people that will give you grief for your gender, I will say that they will probably be the minority - just as I have the ocassional patient who refuses to allow me to care for them because of my size (to put it bluntly - I am fat. Some patient find it offensive.)

I wish you the best of luck in your career! You are fortunate to have found a field you are truly passionate about, and your patients in turn will be fortunate to have you.

I know of 2. One was even studying to become a midwife! So it's uncommon, but not unheard of. The only time I can remember of a patient asking for another nurse, was when it was against her religion to have a male (ANY male) touching her after delivery.

It sounds as if you have found your calling. May we all be so lucky!

kesr

162 Posts

If male doctors can deliver babies - and have for eons - why would a male nurse be a problem? There may be the occasional patient that objects, but most will be fine with your excellent care. Go for it! The beauty of nursing is you can always change your mind and go to ICU if it doesn't work out.

Infinisynth

41 Posts

Doesn't matter what type of genitalia you possess, if this is your thing, then it's your thing. I'm sure that it will be challenging from time to time, but oh well if it's what you enjoy, then go for it.

MissJulie

214 Posts

Personally, I think the main thing is that a nurse is well educated, not what their gender is! Think about how many women have their children delivered by male doctors, surely there wouldn't be a problem with a male nurse. And, even though this plays into a stereotype itself, you know there will be instances that lifting patients will be required, and as a male, you may be called upon for that.

I myself have not seen a male L&D nurse, but then again in my area of the country (Kentucky) there aren't a lot of male nurses in general. In fact, in a class of 50, we only have 4 guys!

And, to add, I think it was a major disservice to you that your instructor didn't "allow" you into any of the action, so to speak. The issue may not have lied with the patient, but with the nursing instructor herself, if she didn't want you in the rooms. Our school has a simple rule, if the patient's okay with it, and you're qualified to do it, go for it!

Just a few thoughts.

Julie :)

nurse2033, MSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU. 3 Articles; 2,129 Posts

I say go for it! There is discrimination and it is your job to not allow it to adversely affect you. I also have loved birthing babies (as a medic) and L&D would be in my top 5 specialities. I'm sure the vast majority of women would want a professional, engaged nurse, of any sex. Good luck!

Just1Question

8 Posts

Thanks for all your encouraging posts!!! I am excited to hear it is an option.

I myself have not seen a male L&D nurse, but then again in my area of the country (Kentucky) there aren't a lot of male nurses in general. In fact, in a class of 50, we only have 4 guys!

I am actually the only guy in my class - we have 47 students.

And, to add, I think it was a major disservice to you that your instructor didn't "allow" you into any of the action, so to speak. The issue may not have lied with the patient, but with the nursing instructor herself, if she didn't want you in the rooms.

It wasn't actually my instructor - she is a woman's health NP and really tried to get me involved during birthing and postpartum care. The way the clinical work the charge nurse paired up a student with a staff nurse and 1 patient. Our clinical instructor would make rounds, check in on us, do a PA with us, etc. I was always paired up with a patient who required no woman's care and when a birth was taking place they would ask the patient if they minded students - when they said yes, the staff nurse always made sure to mention to the instructor 'no men'.

I spoke to the director of our program about my recent great experience - she is eager to get students there.

LoveANurse09

Specializes in Cardiac. 394 Posts

If its what you want to do, then I say go for it. But beware others (staff,managers) may not like it. A manager can always say "no expereince" as a reason for not hiring you, when they really didnt want a male on their unit. I plan on going straight for midwifery degree, because there is probably no way I'm getting into L&D in this market.Good luck!

roser13, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience. 6,504 Posts

If male doctors can deliver babies - and have for eons - why would a male nurse be a problem? There may be the occasional patient that objects, but most will be fine with your excellent care.

Unfortunately, the reality is quite different. Even when a laboring mother has a male OB, they will often object to a male when it comes to their nursing care. I have no personal experience with this and really cannot understand it; I have just read many posts here on this subject. There are men who have truly experienced discrimination when it comes to being hired into L&D. OP's experience in his L&D rotation was pretty standard, in terms of not being allowed to participate completely in the mother/baby care.

OP, I suggest you do a search here for "male nurse L&D" and read some of those threads. Not to discourage you, but it would be good to have an understanding of the realities of the situation.

kesr

162 Posts

It wasn't actually my instructor - she is a woman's health NP and really tried to get me involved during birthing and postpartum care

This NP may be a good resource for you - maybe she will mentor you, at least try to talk to her about your idea.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 45 years experience. 13,469 Posts

I don't think there is anything wrong with a man specializing in L&D. However, let's face it ... it's not common and choosing that specialty will require that you overcome some obstacles on a regular basis. Some patients and some husbands (andnurses) will not be comfortable with it regardless of how terrific you are.

So I am going to propose an alternative for you to consider: Neonatal nursing. Men are much more common in the NICU world and I have never known anyone to raise an objection to having their baby cared for by a man. In fact, there have been several prominent leaders in neonatal nursing who have been men. Have you done clinicals in the NICU yet? Have you explored that field?

NICU nurses often attend births to take care of the baby. They are also a key part of the process as new parents (and whole families) get to know their baby. It can have many similar emotional rewards -- without the male/female issues that you will commonly encounter in L&D. NICU nurses get to work closely with new life, new parents, new families, etc. do a lot of patient teaching.

The highest level NICU's are "more ICU than nursery," if you know what I mean -- and you might find such an environment too intensive for your taste. But there are many Level II nurseries and "special care nurseries" that do not deal with the most critically ill babies on a regular basis. Their population of patients needs a little help, but most will have happy endings. You might really like that environment as it would give you some of the same emotional rewards without a lot of the male/female sensitivities and politics.

As a 3rd option ... have you done your pediatrics rotation yet?

Good luck with whatever you decide.