11 Things Your Labor And Delivery Nurse Wants To Tell You

05/15/2015 12:10 pm ET | Updated May 15, 2016
Staci Sheets

If you've never done it, childbirth is intimidating. Shoot, even if you have done it -- even if you've done it a lot -- it's still intimidating. Wonder what it's like to be on the other side of the birthing/delivery/operating room door? Insider secrets?

With much experience to back me up, let me tell you a few things about your labor and delivery nurses:

1. They like snacks.
Especially cookies. Let's just get this out of the way up front: If you want to be loved eternally by the L&D staff, bring treats. Coffee. Cookies. A veggie platter. ANYTHING. It's a hard job and it's not unusual to not get a break or a lunch or a chance to pee. Food is always awesome. There is no exception.

2. They will kick your family out of the room.
Without flinching. If your mother-in-law is making you homicidal, tell your nurse. She will be more than delighted to tell said mother-in-law that visiting time is over. And then take the blame for it. And she'll probably enjoy doing it. Because your mother-in-law is probably making her homicidal too.

3. They still think birth is magical, but it is sort of the same thing over and over.
Ad infinitum. This doesn't mean they don't value your experience and want it to be amazing. This just means that they've probably done it like a thousand times. It's your life. It's their job. If they act aloof, it's probably because they need to pee. Like 88% of the time they need to pee. It's really hard to get a bathroom break sometimes. Also, they are probably dehydrated. It's hard to drink water too. And if they drink they'll have to pee and that's a whole other situation.

4. After the baby is born, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, stand up without help.
Your blood pressure may be low. If you had an epidural, you may think your legs are working but they might not actually be working. There is no faster road to falling on your ass than standing up without help. DO NOT DO IT. If you ignore their warning and stand up and fall, they will tell the other nurses. "Can you believe that the patient in room 203 stood UP? After I told her like 17 times not to stand up! I had to use my last smelling salt on her. And now I have to do an incident report. UGH."

5. The length of your birth plan is directly proportional to your risk for having nothing go according to plan. If it's three pages or more, you're probably going to the OR. I don't know why this is. I can't scientifically explain it, but it's probably something to do with karma and control. If you're writing a birth plan, keep it to one page or less.

6. Your OB/GYN may be the best person you've ever known.
He/she may be as wonderful as any doctor you could ever imagine. That does not mean he/she is nice to the nurses. Sometimes the nicest physicians are the meanest behind the desk. They make nurses cry. They make nurses want to quit. They make nurses want to punch them. They are sometimes real jerk faces.

7. If you are pregnant, and you call and ask the labor and delivery unit what OB/GYN or midwife you should see, they can't tell you.
Oh, they will want to tell you. Or more aptly, warn you. But they aren't supposed to. If they could, they'd probably not recommend the mean one.

8. They need to pee. 88% of the time.

9. If they see you in Costco in five years, they might not remember you.
I had a mother once who was on the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic softball team. I'll never forget her (Hi, you know who you are!). Her husband loved history and the baby was born June 6th (D-Day for you non-history buffs). She was awesome and the baby was adorable and after the birth she sent me a thank-you note and a Starbucks gift card. And coffee is important. You don't have to be an Olympic gold medalist to be memorable. But, you only have one or two nurses. Your nurses see, like, hundreds of babies born. If you see them and say hi, they will definitely pretend to remember you... but they might not. Also, thank-you notes are really, really appreciated.

10. Most OBs are very particular about when the nurses call them to come for delivery.
Obstetricians, as they are typically coming from their office or home and see a lot of patients, don't want to be called until the baby is pretty much falling out.

That said, sometimes your doctor will not make it before the baby is falling out. DON'T FREAK OUT. The nurse will tell you not to push because they are supposed to. But if you do push and the baby comes out, it's OK. Nurses catch babies all the time. It's not as unusual as you'd think. And it's not really that hard. Babies pretty much deliver themselves most of the time. Also, they do not get paid extra for this. Not even a tip.

11. They love what they do.
When things go perfectly, they smile with you. When things don't go perfectly, they cry with you. They take their work home, a lot. And they love what they do. Except when the OBs are jerk faces.

This story by Joni Edelman first appeared at, an alternative news+culture women's website.

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