Hating L&D

by NeoPediRN NeoPediRN Member Nurse

Specializes in Pediatrics, ER. Has 6 years experience.

I went to school to become a maternity nurse. I loved everything about it. I finally have my chance and it is taking all of my willpower to stick it out. I like the postpartum piece just fine and thought I'd love L&D with my ER background but I hate it. I am not an anxious person but find myself riddled with anxiety during my shifts. I don't like that I only have so much control over what's going on inside mom's body. I am finding that my passion is really just with the babies and would like to switch to special care. During stat sections I find myself gravitating toward the baby when I should be focused on mom. I've been in L&D for three weeks. Will it get better? Should I try to stick it out or am I better off talking to my manager now? Thanks so much in advance.



1 Article; 942 Posts

Three weeks! I'm not even in nursing school yet but from the months I've spent reading on all nurses you'll probably find that the coming responses will tell you to give it time, there are learning curves to specialties such as L&D regardless of previous experience. Also maybe try to specifically identify what is causing you the anxiety? Reading the strips and/or reacting to them?

Anyway like I said, I'm only prenursing but I think it's way too early to call it quits. It may be your passion may still be for babies, but I wouldn't give up just yet.



Specializes in Pediatrics, ER. Has 6 years experience. 945 Posts

What gives me anxiety is the following....

1) I can only do so much to bring a baby's heart rate back up and it's still at least five minutes from decision to stat section delivery.

2) Some of our docs will do anything to place blame on nursing, despite documentation. I have seen it and it's awful, especially when they place blame within earshot of the patient.

3) These patients CANT wait....there's no triaging, they all must be cared for as soon as they walk in the door.

4) The subjectivity....different docs want different things....each nurse has a different opinion on what kind of decel is occurring....etc...

The nurses are so amazing and give great care, but I can see how stressed they are. It's feast or famine on our unit. No patients or 7 in active labor with 12 scheduled NSTs and 3 evals with four nurses. I just miss taking caring of babies. I feel super comfortable with sick babies yet laboring mothers give me a pit in my stomach. I don't get it, and I am so surprised that I don't love L&D.

The reason I'm wondering if I should talk to my manager now is because I dread going in more each day and I don't want to go through the whole orientation, still hate it, and then have her frustrated that I didn't speak up earlier.

iPink, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, Postpartum. Has 9 years experience. 1,414 Posts

Three weeks is not enough time. You need to give yourself a break. There is a lot to learn in L&D. You may feel differently in 6months to a year. Many of the L&D nurses where you work will let you know that their first year was rough, including the ones who had experience in another unit/specialty.

I love the postpartum side, which is why that is my area. I like the fact I still care for adults as well as babies. But if you're still not feeling L&D, you may want to try NICU since you're gravitating towards babies including the sick ones or you can try PP.

Sent via iPink's phone using allnurses



Specializes in Perinatal. Has 3 years experience. 315 Posts

Although I started out differently, I am in a similar boat. I went to school wanting to be an L&D nurse and thought my dream came true when I landed my position. I LOVED it at first (maybe because I was orienting and learning and the weight of the decisions weren't on my shoulders?) but the amount of stress and anxiety this job brings is not for me. I am trying so hard to land a position in MBU now. Having done that before, I know that is where my happiness lies. It was hard to accept that my "dream" really wasn't what I thought it was going to be. But I have come to terms with it and can't wait to move on to MBU, hopefully sooner rather than later! Best of luck to you, whatever you decide. I will admit, I am envious of those that love L&D; I truly hoped that would have been me but after a year and a half, I know it's not.


NurseNora, BSN, RN

Specializes in L&D. Has 53 years experience. 572 Posts

Discuss your feelings with your preceptor and see if she can help you out. Three weeks is enough time to get terrified, bu not yet enough time to learn that there is a lot that you can do and to fell comfortable with your skills. Especially if you've been a nurse for a while. You felt competent and confident in your ability to react appropriately in any situation. Then you transfer to L&D, and you fell helpless and inadequate.

Take AWHONN fetal monitoring classes and learn for yourself what kind of dec is occurring. The basic monitoring class can be taken at the AWHONN website. With six months experience you can take intermediate.

I'll bet that different ER docs want different things done in different ways too. After while, you learned the docs and who did what, when, and how. It takes time to get to know their individual quirks and OBs are the same. Again, you're going from knowing how to respond to a new situation requiring you to learn all over again.

Yes, it's expensive orienting a nurse to L&D but I think you might want to give it a little more time before giving up on it. Good luck no matter what your decision.



82 Posts

I'm currently in nursing school and know I don't want to do L&D or anything with babies. (At least that's what I feel now, but I am keeping an open mind). There are many facets to nursing and to each their own, if you have found yours then go for it! If you approach your mentor with your desire perhaps there is a way for you to get what you want and they have not wasted their time and money training someone that will jump ship because they are unhappy.

Good luck in whatever you choose!

OB-nurse2013, BSN, RN

Specializes in Labor and Delivery. Has 3 years experience. 1,229 Posts

Its hard to say I started in labor and delivery and that's all I've done. It's really rough the first few months and i think partly that it is different then e expected. Most people really don't understand what it's like. I would give it time and maybe try out the NICU?



24 Posts

I remember being in your shoes when I first started in nursing 6 years ago. My reason for becoming a nurse was to be a L&D nurse, but I knew early on it was the not the fit for me. I was always stressed and had a lot of anxiety as well. So I transitioned into working on a mother baby unit. It was a good choice for me, but I always think back to that time and wondered could I have made it last a little longer. If I were you, I would be honest with your manager and try to explore other opportunities if you really feel like you can't go on any longer. Or give it a little more time and see if you can find something you like in this specialty. Good luck to you with everything!



10 Posts

I can relate! Before going to nursing school, I always worked with moms/babies. I was a doula, midwifery apprentice, taught childbirth classes and was a clinical assistant on an ante/pp floor. I always thought I would do L&D. I got my 1st Job right out of school in L&D. I did it for 2 yrs. the first few months were really tough. I cried many times. My 1st 2 preceptors were awful. My last one was great. I learned a lot and began to feel more comfortable. I still felt like it wasn't quite the right fit for me. I transferred to a much bigger hospital where the acuity level was much higher. That also raised my anxiety. After 2 yrs, I decided that the Antepartum unit was a better fit for me. I have been doing only Ante for the last 3 yrs. We also get a lot of higher acuity PP on our unit. Sometimes if the census is lower, they try to float us to L&D. Almost all the antepartum nurse I worked with have L&D experience. That being said, none of us ever want to float over to L&D. Some of the nurses I have worked with have a few years in L&D, some only a few weeks and they knew it was not the right fit. I wish you luck with your decision. You might want to stick it out a little longer, however if you truly know in your heart it's not the right fit, then it might be time to talk to your preceptor and find an area of nursing that you enjoy! I understand that feeling of being stressed going to work and not truly enjoying your job! You worked so hard to become a nurse, you want to be on an unit that you love and feel good about the job you are doing!

Mel Rose

Mel Rose, ADN, LPN, RN

Has 5 years experience. 1 Post

I know this was posted a few years ago but this is exactly how I’m feeling. I’m currently at 5 months into my orientation for l&d with one month of PP. I thought I had landed my dream job but the more time I’ve spent on l&d the more I realize it’s not for me and I’d rather work PP. I get so much anxiety whenever it’s time to go to work. About two weeks into l&d I ended up at the ED with a panic attack and I didn’t know why, since then I’ve had recurring asthma attack that I believe is triggered by my anxiety. 

I’m a new grad and I felt like I didn’t want to disappoint myself, my preceptors and my managers for investing so much into me but I don’t know how much longer I can continue. 
Any advise would be much appreciated.