Picture this – you’ve been laboring all through the night, now it is morning and your contractions have gotten to the point where they are long, strong and close together. You and your hubby agree that it’s time to head to the hospital. You arrive at the hospital excited and a little bit anxious about what’s coming next. You’re greeted by a lovely, warm nurse who gets you checked in and walks you to your room. Nurse Friendly tells you that you’re doing great and “Your nurse will be with you in just a minute.” “Darn”, you think to yourself, “I wanted that nurse!”
A moment later your nurse walks into the room. She doesn’t say hello but instead walks over to the computer and as she’s typing she says “Get the gown on and lie down on the bed.” You and your husband exchange glances and raised eyebrows. You tell the nurse you plan to wear your own clothing. She seems annoyed. Then your husband tells her, We’ve got a birth plan that we’d love to share.” Now she seems really annoyed and was that an eye roll you noticed? As your husband shares your carefully worded birth plan she makes it clear that she doesn’t agree. Comments like “We don’t do things that way here at this hospital,” and “I think you should have chosen a birth center.” and “You’re not a doctor so we’ll let him decide about that,” begin flying out of her mouth. You find yourself close to tears and your husband is struggling to keep his frustration in check. Your nurse suddenly says she needs to leave the room to get something. Hallelujah! You two will have a moment to chat about Nurse Grumpy. She leaves the room and you fall into his arms. You say, “She’s awful. I really don’t want her here.” Hubby responds, “I know but what can we do? We’re stuck with her.”
But here’s the secret, you’re not stuck!! In order to make your birth go as smoothly as possible, sometimes you have to make choices that might make other people uncomfortable. One of those choices might be firing your nurse. And you can fire her for any reason! During labor moms are sensitive to smell, to sound, to touch and to emotions. If you nurse has a strong perfume on, if her voice is grating and loud, if she seems stressed and anxious then you can get yourself a new nurse. I have had clients choose to swap nurses for each of those reasons.
A hospital won’t advertise that you have the power of firing your nurse, but you absolutely do! A hospital is like a restaurant. If you don’t like your server, ask for another one! If you’re unhappy with the food, send it back to the kitchen! Your nurse is an integral part of your birth team, and if she is not on board with your birth plan or she’s having a bad day, then it is time to seek out a new team member. If you’re not enjoying her chances are she’s not enjoying you!
This is where super dad comes in! Dad, you’re number one job upon arriving at the hospital is to vet the nurse. You need to figure out if she’s going to be warm and supportive. And the best way to do that is by spending a few minutes getting to know her and being vulnerable.
Dad, start by answering the intake questions.
Next, you share the birth plan verbally line by line. Meanwhile Mom, you are doing the wonderful and all-consuming work of labor. Let your partner handle the business end of the hospital!
If after spending those minutes with her you feel uncomfortable then that’s your signal that it’s time to take the next step.
Get a new nurse.
Here is how to request that new nurse:
Find the nearest nursing station
Ask to speak with the charge nurse (the nurse in charge). Tell her “Nurse Sarah isn’t working out for us and we would like a new nurse as soon as possible.”
If pressed for more information, give them as little information as possible. (ex:”she just wasn’t a good fit”)
Remember this is just one shift out of a career of thousands of shifts. You are one birth amongst hundreds for the nurse. But this is YOUR birth and you will only experience this once. Dad, you may have to endure a moment of embarrassment as you ask for a new nurse, but it is worth it to have the end result of a supportive birth team and a beautiful, empowering birth.