A day in the life of a labor and delivery nurse
Labor and delivery nurses are present for one of the most pivotal moments in people's lives. They support mothers before, during and after childbirth and are crucial members of the delivery room team.
One such labor and delivery (L&D) nurse is Reaghan Reynolds, who works at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center—Fort Worth. Here, Reaghan offers her insight into her day, highlighting the hard work, empathy and the incredible commitment that defines her profession.
Is there such a thing as a “typical day” as a labor and delivery nurse?
There is no such thing as a typical day as a labor and delivery nurse. While I do expect to deliver babies each shift, no two
deliveries are the same. Each mother has her own unique set of circumstances and needs that require intricate observation and care.
From the beginning of the labor process at check-in to delivery, L&D nurses must find specific ways to treat each mother, from the medicine she receives to the hands-on care that brings her new bundle of joy into the world. Sometimes, if we are really lucky, we will get a drive-by delivery, which is where the mother is already laboring as her car rushes into the drop-off area.
Nurses can’t predict emergencies, so I must always be prepared to intervene and provide the best care for my patients. While this is typically a joyful job in which we get to experience the happiest of days with new parents, we unfortunately also experience some of the darkest days. No mother comes in expecting the worst, but the toughest part of our job is one that is tragically inescapable. Luckily, most of our shifts are filled with joy, and for that I am always grateful.
What inspired you to become a labor and delivery nurse?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to work in the healthcare field. When I was 7 years old, my mother had a miscarriage. As I was so young, I was not able to fully grasp the impact of that tragedy. I will always remember that day, but I specifically remember how the nurses treated my mom, myself and my other family members. Their intimate care and kindness spark in me a desire to extend that same care to those around me.
Years later, I asked my mom why the loss had occurred, and I was inspired to think deeply about providing care to others who may be going through a similar situation.
When I attended Texas Christian University for college, I worked through several clinical rotations in my time as a nursing student. After visiting and working in several different units, I found myself gravitating toward the Labor and Delivery unit most. For me, this was as clear of a sign as I could ask for, and I knew that I wanted to be an L&D nurse.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
The delivery of a baby is one of the most joyful moments for me; I find the experience is truly amazing. There is something beautiful about being there to help a new mother when she is at her most vulnerable and assisting her when she needs it.
How do you collaborate with other members of your team, including obstetricians and midwives, to deliver the best care for a mother during labor?
I am in constant communication with providers. I frequently suggest unique plans of care that are specialized to women and their n
eeds. Sometimes expectant mothers will come with their own birth plan, or even a list of things they do or do not want during their stay. My role is to communicate these desires to the physicians and help facilitate labor the way they want, whether that be labor positions, birthing plans or specific requests. As mothers in the unit progress through labor, the doctors and midwives are readily available if I need them to medicate the mother or begin the delivery process.
What advice would you give to expecting mothers to help them feel more prepared and empowered for their labor and delivery experience?
One of the most important things I recommend is for any expecting mothers to educate themselves before coming in for delivery. Many hospitals provide classes, education and added support for parents, so I highly encourage the utilization of these resources.
Secondly, know your labor preferences: breastfeeding, epidural, pain medications, birthing position, skin-to-skin, etc. More than anything, don’t be afraid to communicate these needs to your nurse!
No matter how a mother decides to handle her delivery, the most important outcome is a healthy baby and a healthy mom. Your delivery may not go according to every preplanned detail, but I want you to know that you can trust your nurses and doctors. We will do everything in our power to keep you and your baby in good health.
How do you maintain a work-life balance and take care of your own well-being?
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can oftentimes be tricky as a nurse, especially on the night shift. However, there are a handful of things I do to try and form a sustainable balance. In my free time, I like to work out to help de-stress and clear my head. I also enjoy reading my Bible, spending time with family and playing with my puppy.
I also take care of myself by cleaning my house. I find that I think most clearly when I’m in a clean and organized environment, so I try my best to keep things neat and tidy so that I can rest comfortably.
Lastly, I do everything I can to get as much sleep as possible after a shift. Recovery is so important; I always make sure to make plans to truly rest on my off days. Rest is a must, so I will always make it one of my top priorities.
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