What your labor nurse wants you to know, and other fun facts

Lilly Schott

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Phew! When Mary Alice asked me to write this post, I chuckled about what a book I could write on the topic (actually at one point I did start writing said book). And then I thought about what a special opportunity it is to write for a specific audience about the lovely Maternity unit at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Also known in my head as “Hôtel La Maternité.” It’s French for fancy.

First off, if you haven’t seen it, it is hands down the coziest and prettiest Maternity unit. It even has all the pillows you could ever want, and I assure you this is a hospital miracle. I’ll brag a little and say that the best part isn’t the building, it’s the nurses, midwives, and doctors. I can tell you that they care about your safety – not surprising – but they deeply care about your birth and parenting experience – amazing! Likely you will have one to one nursing care, which means that literally any time you need something, your nurse is available. This is basically a dream for nurses and families, and can’t be measured in terms of what it will mean for your wellbeing.

So here’s what you really need to know now that I’ve bored you half to tears:

1. Not everybody poops at delivery, so don’t worry about it! We do not care and deal with much worse as nurses! If it happens, we have a special technique called “the wipe and hide.” You’ll be none the wiser. Don’t ask me if you pooped or I have to tell you the truth...

2. Which leads me to number two (pun intended). I will NOT lie to you. We are long past the days when medical professionals thought it wise to keep things from you. If we are worried about you or your baby, you will be the first to know at every step. Ask us ANY question and we will give you the best answer we can. Which leads me to number 3...

3. Sometimes our best/worst answer is “I don’t know.”

a. When will I have this baby?

b. Why did my water break before I started contracting?

c. Why am I in labor at 32 weeks?

d. Why am I shaking?

4. My fourth and (last) piece of info for you today is about a topic which doesn’t get enough street cred! It’s the shakes. Imagine you are very, very cold and your entire body is chattering. Those are the shakes. Women get them in various degrees during labor and postpartum recovery immediately following delivery. They are hormonal in origin, and can be increased by epidurals and surgery. They are TOTALLY benign, but really can be annoying and a tad scary. Your nurse will ask you if you are cold, just to be sure. You’ll say “No, I’m just shaky.” And she will bring you a warm, toasty blanket anyway. You will think, “Does she listen? I said I’m not co - Oh wait, that feels SOOOOO good.”  Really the heat helps calm the shaking muscles a bit, and just feels comforting.

We listen. Promise.