Job Title: Maternity Nurse
Type of Company: Community Hospital
Education: BS, Health Care Administration
Previous Experience: I worked for a couple of years as a post-partum nurse in a city hospital before moving to my current position. I have been here for twenty-eight years.
Job Tasks: I work in a small labor and delivery unit. We deliver approximately 600 babies a year. My responsibilities include providing care for a laboring mother and at delivery assuming care of the infant as well. I also care for families after delivery, including teaching about infant care, breast feeding and self-care for the mother.
As a maternity nurse I am responsible for a number of mothers and babies. I monitor their vital signs, administer any medication needed, teach new parents about infant care and provide assistance in caring for the new mother medically. These duties center around the mother's adjustment to the post-partum period. For instance we monitor the amount of blood loss and the condition of the episiotomy. In our unit we also perform C-sections and "recover" the mother as well as taking care of high risk infants until a transport unit can arrive to take them to a neonatal intensive care unit.
Occasionally we have babies that are boarding with us while they withdraw from an addiction that they acquired in gestation because their mothers were users. In general, our unit is a happy place but on occasion we also need to help parents deal with miscarriages or stillborns or babies born with serious birth defects. Most of the time, though, being present at the birth of a baby is a privilege and something I enjoy.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The worst parts of the job are the times when a patient is abusive or confrontational and refuses to comply with our advice or our suggestions. Another very bad time is when a baby is stillborn or has birth defects that may permit to live. A third part of the job is as I mentioned before, when we have babies born addicted that have to withdraw, suffering the symptoms that could have been avoided.
Job Tips: Try not to be judgmental. For example, the mothers with addicted infants do not want that for their babies but have a problem that they need to address. Try to put yourself in their shoes and treat them with kindness as all patients should be treated.
Also, don't try to push your agenda on someone else. They may want all the drugs modern medicine has to offer while you feel natural childbirth is the best. The patient is the consumer and has the right to decide what kind of experience she wants.
Additional Thoughts: One of the best parts of the job is the different people I have met while helping them bring babies into the world. Some remember me when they encounter me in the supermarket years after the child was born. Labor and delivery nursing is a hard job both physically and mentally. It can be draining and intense. Things can go wrong very quickly in labor and delivery and can cause a lot of anxiety about poor outcomes. One of the most important personal qualities for success in maternity nursing is to listen to the patient, be flexible, and trust your instincts when you feel something is wrong.
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