Working in the field of nursing takes an exceptional kind of person to devote all of those long hours and heart to perfect strangers. The people that choose to work in healthcare are some of the most reliable, most intelligent and compassionate people on the planet. Honestly, where would any of us be without their help and guidance at one point or another?
Working in nursing is a gratifying way to spend a life, but it certainly is not all sunshine and roses. Don’t believe us? Go ahead and find a labor and delivery nurse. They will be the first to tell anyone that while their profession has a lot of rewards, there are some dangerous pitfalls as well. Labor and delivery nurses often get to witness life’s highest of highs. Sadly they are also privy to the lowest of lows at times too. They also work incredibly long hours, do the jobs of 10 individuals, see some gross stuff, and handle it all with a smile on their faces. They deal with mountains of paperwork—even taller mountains of patient’s questions—and never lose sight of the big picture.
They are there to help whoever comes through the hospital doors.
Labor and delivery nurses could go on all day about why they love their work, but here are 20 things that most L & D nurses can all agree stink!
20. THEY SPEND A LOT OF TIME REASSURING PATIENTS
It is a part of the job that many labor and delivery nurses didn’t see coming when they were back in college. Sure they knew that they would be surrounded by yelling and pushing, fluids and machines, but they never quite thought that they would spend the same amount of time cheerleading that they do performing medical tasks. Labor and delivery nurses rarely meet a patient that doesn’t need at least a little bit of reassurance that everything is going to be okay. New mothers especially look to them for support, guidance, and help. A person who works in this field has to have the capacity to think quickly and also have a tremendous emotional ability for others.
19. THE UNPREDICTABILITY
Babies are nothing ifs not unpredictable. Twisted or knotted cords, sudden emergency procedures and snap decisions are all part of the labor and delivery experience. When it comes to the health and lives of mothers and babies, Labor and delivery nurses would MUCH prefer everything to go nice and smoothly if they could choose. Give them easy, peasy deliveries over complicated and stressful ones any day! Sure some of these professionals are adrenaline lovers, but not ever at the expense of someone’s well being. The best day in an L & D nurse’s life is most definitely a borning one!
18. THE ENDLESS CHARTING
Charting EVERYTHING is crucial to a labor and delivery nurse. According to YouTuber @nurseaggz, charting is exhausting and tedious, but essential in the field of labor and delivery. The typical hospital’s view on charting is: if you didn’t chart it, then you didn’t do it. Not only do L & D nurses have to chart every single thing that they do, but they also have to record what health care providers said or asked and what the responses were. Making sure everything gets written down or typed out can make all the difference should something go very wrong. Dotting I’s and crossing T’s helps to ensure no one gets sued if things go south. On top of being a health care provider, these people are a constant recorder of events and facts.
17. THE DAYS ARE LONG
Any nurse will tell you that just because they work three days a week, doesn’t mean that they aren’t grinding it out just as hard as someone who works five days a week. If a nurse works three days a week, then she likely pulls a twelve-hour shift each of those days, and that is if the hospital isn’t understaffed. Professionals in healthcare often work longer than what their shift is supposed to be, and it would not be uncommon for their nurses to be running around on their feet for thirteen plus hours in a day. This means their days “off” have to be devoted to running any errands that must be done during business hours and resting up.
16. MUCH OF WHAT YOU LEARN DOESN’T COME FROM BOOKS
Nursing is an interesting field because to be a top-notch healthcare provider you have to be both book-smart and worldly. Yes, of course, nurses all receive excellent educations so that they can excel in the medical world, but so much of this job is learned after a nurse’s life in the classroom is complete. No book can ever truly express how to handle a family coping with congenital disabilities or loss. No seminar will thoroughly prepare a nursing student for the high levels of intensity and emotion that come with the territory. Nursing is one of those jobs that is learned mainly on site and over time.
15. IT CAN BE HARD IF YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN BABY JOURNEY
Is there anything more difficult than wanting to become a mother yourself and simply not seeing it happen? How about dreaming of parenthood day in and day out while you deliver babies for other couples. Yeah, that would be a bear. Women who work in labor and delivery, and are experiencing fertility woes, have it hard. Just because they cannot have a baby themselves doesn’t mean that they up and quit because it’s too hard to see other women welcoming children into the world. They have a job to do, and they do it gracefully, even though they are crying on the inside.
14. WORKING WITH SICK MOTHERS
Reddit users also agree that working with extremely ill mothers is not their favorite aspect of the job. Mothers who have developed severe health conditions can make a nurse’s role difficult. One Reddit user swears that helping mothers with Pre-eclampsia through labor is the pits. Some of these mothers become so ill that the baby’s health almost becomes an afterthought. Nurses have to work extra hard to keep the mom alive! These high-risk unit nurses have the most challenging L & D job of all; they are responsible for bringing a healthy baby into the universe, but also for making sure mom makes it out of childbirth alive.
13. HAVING TO TAKE CARE OF SEVERAL MOTHERS AT A TIME
Hospital workers all know what it is like to be short staffed. These work environments are notorious for not scheduling enough staff on any given day. Not only does this mean that L & D nurses have to work longer shifts, but it can also mean that when they are on the floor, they are being pulled in several different directions. Many nurses have revealed that one of the less than pleasant aspects of working labor and delivery is having to take care of several women at one time and not being able to give them the undivided attention that they require and deserve.
12. WRITING ON THE FETAL MONITORING TAPE
When a woman comes into the hospital to deliver a baby, she is typically hooked up to a few helpful monitors that watch both her and the baby as she moves through the labor process. One monitor keeps a close eye on the mother’s contractions while the other paces the fetus’s heart rate. Per YouTuber #nurseaggz, if a woman has had pitocin or an epidural, the nurse has to chart stats on the fetal monitoring tape every 15 minutes. If labor is progressing naturally, then they mark what is needed every half hour. Either way, it is still more charting and notetaking.
11. ADJUSTING MONITORS
Those monitors that get hooked up to mommy do not always do what they are told. Some nurses get pretty irked when they have to go back to a laboring patient and readjust the monitor every couple of minutes so that they continue to pick up heartbeat sounds as they are supposed to. If a laboring mother is moving about a lot, a baby is wiggling up a storm, or the fetus is premature and very small, shifting around the monitor can end up taking a whole lot of time, as if they have all that much time to spare!
10. CLEANING UP VOMIT IS JUST PART OF THE JOB
Nurses are as tough as nails, but some nurses still have trouble watching their patient get queasy and toss their cookies. Nausea and vomiting are pretty common occurrences in the labor and delivery room, but not all nurses can handle a bit of regurgitation. Some of the hospital staff still considers ill patients to be the crappiest part of the job. Any nurse working in this particular unit will tell you that bodily fluids are part of the game here, but that doesn’t mean that nurses ever get used to having throw up splashing onto their shoes on the daily. Thank goodness laboring mommies often only have ice chips in their tummies.
9. THEY GET ASKED QUESTIONS THAT THEY CAN’T ANSWER
Many labor and delivery nurses have to shrug their shoulders when patients, friends, and families ask them medical questions that they can not answer. One L & D nurse put it, “If it isn’t about your cervix, then I cannot answer it.” People assume that because these specialized nurses work in specific areas of healthcare, they can also advise on rashes, viral illnesses or other conditions that pop up. Not so! Labor and delivery nurses are intelligent, essential and more than competent, but they have no crystal ball nor a generalized degree that would allow them to play doctor to you and save you a pricey trip to urgent care.
8. THE DREADED LOSS OF A CHILD
The vast number of mommies who walk into the hospital to have a baby, walk out a couple of days later with a six-pound bundle of joy in their arms. Labor and delivery nurses are almost always able to give their patients the most magical moment of their entire lives, and this is not something that they take lightly. For every thousand births that they can make happen, there will almost always be one that went very opposite of how anybody envisioned. When the most unthinkable scenario occurs, it is crushing to families as well as the nursing staff.
7. KEEPING UP COMMUNICATION WITH SEVERAL HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS
Nurses working on the labor and delivery unit have to be able to effectively communicate with many other healthcare professionals as well as family members all day long, and this can be taxing. Doctors need constant updates on their patients. The anesthesia staff has to get often involved as well as surgical teams if the birth is no longer taking the natural road to success. On top of having to update and communicate with other healthcare teams, the nurses sometimes have the families of laboring patients to update and discuss plans with. We can see how his aspect would take a toll on L & D nurses.
6. THE DREADED DOUBLE SHIFT
Working a double shift in nursing is something that no nurse looks forward to. Imagine being in the labor and delivery unit for 16 long and intense hours at a time! Nurses who have to put these long hours in sometimes put their patients at risk, albeit unintentionally. Pulling double shifts can sometimes cause nurses to make mistakes that they would otherwise not make. Extremely long work days also sometimes results in nurses allowing patient care to slip through the cracks. One study from Patient Care also found that nurses who worked double shifts washed their hands much less than their counterparts working a single shift.
5. IT’S MESSY WORK
Childbirth is a messy business, so nurses working in this field will never come home nice and clean. They will leave covered with life…literally. Working in a hospital will make nurses daydream of a warm shower and a bar of soap. You can’t go right from the office to the bar to meet up with friends for drinks when your shift is over. If you work in the L&D unit, then you will likely always have to stop home, shower, and change before trying to have a life outside of the hospital walls. No one will have an appetite if you waltz into a restaurant covered in birth material!
4. IT CAN TAKE AN EMOTIONAL TOLL
How can it not be? Every shift you work in labor and delivery is intense. Babies’ lives are in your hands; mothers lives are too. You have to be “on” all of the time. A day of slacking could be utterly detrimental to families. Aside from such immense pressure on their shoulders, there is the added layer of having to deal with births gone very wrong. There are families to console and the aftermath of traumatic births to handle. Labor and delivery nurses leave their long shifts feeling complete, emotionally drained. The highs in this field tend to be high, and the lows are extremely low. All in a day’s work we suppose.
3. HOSPITAL GERM EXPOSURE
This pitfall doesn’t only go for working Labor and Delivery though. Any position you take in a hospital environment ups your chances of picking up some yucky virus that happens to be floating around the premises. Hospitals are gross. Even though the janitorial staff does their very best to keep germs at bay, hospitals are a space where sick people congregate; germs are unavoidable. If you work in a hospital, there is little chance that you won’t eventually pick something up and end up down for the count yourself. Working in an environment that can make you sick is not the most glamorous part of this job. That’s for sure!
2. MOMS WHO THINK THEY ARE THE EXPERTS
Nurses on Reddit.com all can agree that one of the more frustrating aspects of working in labor and delivery is when the laboring mothers or the mothers of the laboring mother consider themselves to be experts in childbirth simply because they have had a baby a time or two. Yes, experience counts for something, but it doesn’t quite make one a doctor or a nurse. Every childbirth is different and should get treated uniquely. Nurses know this, mothers don’t often realize it. It can be very frustrating to try and convince non-hospital staff who the actual professional is in any given situation.
1. DEALING WITH HOSPITAL POLICY
Reddit users working in labor and delivery often complain about their hospital’s corporate policies, and how that effects them in the everyday work environment. One user said that taking on inductions is her absolute least favorite thing because of the pitocin policies. Sometimes they are forced to do things that they would rather not, all be because of the hospital’s policies. Working as a nurse in hospital can be frustrating when you feel like the higher ups do not understand what life on the floor looks like. Nurses sometimes feel like the messenger in situations, getting scolded for things that are way out of their control.