Updated: Nov 17, 2021
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 hubby agree that it’s time to head to the hospital. You arrive at your chosen 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 enters the room. She doesn’t say hello, but instead walks to the computer and as she’s typing she says, “Get the gown on and lie down on the bed.”
You exchange a worried glance with your husband. 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’ll have a moment alone 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.”
Here’s the secret, you’re not stuck. In order to create the brith you want you may have to get uncomfortable and fire your nurse. And you can fire her for any reason. During labor, moms are sensitive to smell, sounds, touch, and their intuition and emotions are heightened. If your nurse has a strong perfume on, if her voice is grating, if she isn’t aligned with your birth plan then you can get yourself a new nurse. Our clients have chosen to swap nurses for each of those reasons.
Hospitals don’t advertise that you have the power of firing your nurse, but you absolutely do! Remember, a hospital is like a restaurant. If you don’t like your server, ask for another. 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. And chances are, if you’re not enjoying her she’s not enjoying you.
This is where Super Partner comes in. Partners, your number one job upon arriving at the hospital is to vet the nurse. You need to decide if she belongs on Team Mom. And the best way to do that is by spending a few minutes getting to know her and being vulnerable. Here’s how to do that in two simple steps
Begin by answering the intake questions in lieu of your partner.
Next, share your birth plan out loud, read it line by line to her. Moms, you are doing the wonderful and all-consuming work of labor. Let your partner handle the business end of the hospital and you continue breathing and focusing.
If, after spending those minutes with her, you feel uncomfortable that’s your signal that it’s time to take the next step. Here’s how to get yourself a brand 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, you might say, "Sarah isn’t comfortable with our birth plan and we’d like to have a nurse who can support the choices we’ve made.”
Remember this is just one shift out of a career of thousands of shifts for your nurse. You are one birth amongst many. But this is YOUR birth and you will only experience this once. Partners, you may have to endure a moment of embarrassment as you ask for a new nurse, but the end result of a harmonious birth team and a beautiful, empowering birth are worth any effort or discomfort—promise!