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For most of your labor, the most important medical support person in the room will be your nurse…Had the nurse not known how to read a fetal heart monitor strip or had she failed to take immediate action, the baby would have suffered catastrophic injuries.

As this example illustrates, an experienced labor and delivery nurse can tell when looking at a fetal heart monitor strip if your baby is in distress and take timely and appropriate action. An inexperienced nurse without proper training could miss the warning signs. Irreparable harm, including birth injury, brain damage, or fetal demise, could result. Likewise, if a nurse misses the warning signs of preeclampsia, or uterine abruption, the laboring mother could die.

In addition to her education and training, your labor and delivery nurse should be conscientious and prepared. She should always review your medical and personal history and be familiar with it before meeting you. She should welcome you to the hospital and introduce herself and her support people and then tell you her hours so that you know what to anticipate in terms of shift changes.

What Should Your Labor and Delivery Nurse Expect from You?

Your relationship with your labor and delivery nurse should be one of mutual respect. Nurses aren’t there to do your bidding—they have a job to do. While a mother should suppose certain things from her nurse, the nurse also has the right to presume certain things from the mother. You will find that when you work together, the entire process goes much more smoothly. The following pointers explain what the RN should be able to expect from you.

Five Pointers for Working Effectively with Your Labor and Delivery Nurse

  1. Be honest. Remember that your nurse is your greatest advocate and knows best how to get in and around the system.
  2. Be direct. Nurses want to do everything they can to help you, but they can’t read minds. If you need something, please ask!
  3. Speak up. If you don’t like something your nurse is doing or you want her to do something right away, let her know. Always ask if you don’t understand something, because it’s best to get questions cleared up right away.
  4. Be reasonable. Nurses want to respect your wishes in terms of how you want your labor to go, but sometimes labors don’t go as planned. Keep your expectations reasonable so that you don’t set yourself up for failure or disappointment.
  5. Show sincere appreciation. A thank you goes a long way, and when earned, is always appropriate.