From the moment you arrive at the hospital, you will be assigned a labor and delivery nurse. A nurse will meet you in the triage area if your hospital uses this system, or you will be assigned a nurse in the labor, delivery and recovery (LDR) area in your hospitals birth unit. This nurse is responsible for all of your basic care and communications with your doctors and midwives. To put it bluntly nothing gets to you or form you without going through your labor and delivery nurse first.
This nurse will help you get physically ready by asking intake questions, starting your IV or saline lock. She will also help listen to your baby by adjusting the fetal monitor or using the fetal doppler while you labor. She is also likely to be the one who assesses your cervix through out labor. Needless to say this is going to be a very important ally for you in labor. Here are some tips for your best bet to have a fast friendship:
- Tell her everything.
She's got a lot of information to figure out in a very short amount of time. You can help her immensely by telling her everything about your medical history, even if you do not think it is relevant. All she's gotten from your midwife or doctor is a brief sheet with the basics of your prenatal care. This might save your life or the baby's life. It definitely makes her life easier.
- Be specific.
If you need something specific, tell her. If you need something out of the ordinary or want something special, tell her. This ensures that you get your needs met and that she's not left guessing. This might be in the form of a birth plan, or it might be in a conversation. She can only help you if she knows what you want.
- Introduce her.
If you brought people with you to labor, be sure to introduce her to them and explain how they will be helping you. This means your mom, your grandma, your best friend, your doula... everyone. This allows your nurse to give them the lay of the land and to understand what the rules of the room are as they pertain to you and labor.
- Know when it's not working.
Sometimes there can be a conflict. If you are having problems with your nurse speak up. Neither of you need to be in a situation that is tense. You have the right in every hospital to request a different nurse. You might both be glad that you spoke up.
- Cookies and other edibles.
You may want to find a way to thank your labor and delivery nurse when all is said and done. Or some people like to bring some home made cookies to start off on the sweetest foot. Be sure to bring enough for the whole shift, or multiple shifts... What will likely be a bigger thank you for your nurse is remembering in your postpartum haze to fill out the hospital evaluation and be sure to mention her by name or write the hospital as well.