Labor and Delivery: A Nurse & Mom of Four Shares Her Valuable Lessons

Andrea DuMez in the hospital bed with her 2 baby girls

I had all four of my children (and two losses) before I became a Labor and Delivery Nurse. Due to moves and job changes, I delivered with four different OBs at four different hospitals. I took many lessons from these experiences and am grateful for what I went through.
 
1. Expect the unexpected. My water broke with my first baby on my due date. This was unexpected for several reasons. I had been on bedrest for 9 weeks (which is no longer recommended) and prepared for a premature delivery - not a full term 9 pounder! I went in with a birth plan that I'd had 9 weeks to perfect. I got IV pain medication, an epidural and then had a postpartum hemorrhage. None of those were part of my plan but I forgot about all of that the second they handed him to me.
 
2. The nurses are expecting the unexpected. With my second, my cervix changed from 4 to 10 in 7 minutes…thankfully, I had an epidural! I mentioned that my epidural didn’t seem to be working. My nurse checked my cervix and let me know that she was going to let the doctor know that it was time to push. After she shut the door, we heard a commotion. My husband looked out the window and watched the doctor run across the street from the clinic. The nurses got me ready and my doctor arrived as I pushed twice and baby number two arrived!
 
3. Your birth story is important. My birth records weren’t available at hospital number three, so my nurse asked me to share the stories of my other births. This time my doctor stayed in the room after the epidural and nobody had to run! You know your body and others should trust your expertise.
 Labor and delivery quote

4. It’s okay to get sent home. I hate sending people home and often spend time reassuring and educating moms on why it’s okay. I got sent home twice with my second but the caregivers were sweet and wonderful. They did not make me feel dumb even though I had already had a baby and was a nurse! I appreciated that care so much.
 
5. Pain medication and education don’t mix. While breastfeeding my second child at 2 am, I began to experience afterbirth cramps that rivaled labor. I called my nurse to ask for pain medication and crackers because I was nauseous from the pain. She brought them and then said, “Since you’re awake, I’ll do some of your discharge education.” That is the only time I have ever told a nurse to leave my room immediately. Patient-centered care means that mom is in charge!
 
6. Don’t “think” you’re ready for something that you’re not. After one birth with an epidural, my nurse asked if I was ready to get up. Well, I can do anything and I had birthed a human so of course I could walk 15 feet to the bathroom. Except that I couldn’t and the poor nurse broke my fall.
Labor and delivery quote
7. Ignorance is bliss. Looking back, there are a few moments where things went wrong, but I was none the wiser. I didn’t realize it until I became a labor and delivery nurse. The nurses quickly took charge of situations that I now know had them on high alert. They did it with grace and ease and it made my labor experience so much better. I am still grateful for them.
 
8. No question is a dumb question. After my fourth baby, I was sure that my uterus was falling out and I called my nurse. She checked things out and assured me that I was swollen but everything was in its proper place. She became my coworker and friend and reassures me that she doesn’t remember that. I can now say with confidence that I have been asked enough questions like that and I believe her.

9. Every birth is amazing. I remember the moment that I first laid eyes on each of my babies. And on the other side of things, I still tear up at most births. A healthy baby is a precious gift and amazes me every single time.
 Labor and delivery quote

10. A hospitalized baby is always devastating. My first born
was hospitalized for a week when he was 6 weeks old. Going home to his toys, clothes and gadgets was heavy. He’s okay now but for a while we didn’t know what the outcome would be. My nurses knew when to push me and when to let me process.
 
11. When things go wrong, a quiet presence is good. With my first loss, it seemed my doctor read me a list of “what not to say to a woman having a miscarriage”. With my second, the ultrasound tech gently explained what she saw and got my OB. He sat with me and held my hand and asked if he should contact someone. A nurse walked me to my car and hugged me. A few days later when I arrived in the Emergency Department hemorrhaging, that same doctor held my hand until the effects of general anesthesia washed over me. My nurse gave me time and let me lead my discharge and followed up with a phone call. I have no idea what she said or if she spoke but I remember her sitting with me in the dark.
 
I love the ups and the downs of my job. You have to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie to work in Obstetrics but the pauses are my favorite. The realization that life will never be the same after this moment. Momma, we’re with you. We’re honored to be part of your story.

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