All babies are special, but first babies have the unique gift of changing a woman and man into a mother and father. There is something extra special when a family is welcoming their first child or grandchild. There is also something special about the first baby of the year. Nurses, all over the world, are betting on which mom will deliver the first baby of the new year. Each hospital wants to be the first in the area to claim the New Years’s baby. Newspapers will feature photos of the star newborn. The lucky first-of-the-year babies will be showered in gifts from hospitals and companies.
There is a lot of focus on the first baby of the year and nurses ensure that the birth is special and celebrated. This is a fun tradition, but that feeling fades quickly as the never ending line of pregnant mothers stream in for delivery. Even the most benevolent and happy nurse can forget that every delivery is someone’s special day. Some days feel like just another ordinary day at work. Nurses have bad days just like everyone else. The difference is that a labor nurse’s bad day can darken a family’s memory of their birth forever.
When labor nurses begin to lose sight of the magic of birth it is important to recharge, refresh and relearn what makes each birth special.
Here are 1o ways to bring magic back to labor and delivery:
1. Identify something you like about your patient. This may be difficult with some patients, but everyone has some redeeming quality. Find it.
2. Smile. If you smile your patient will feel welcome and it can change your attitude as well. Fake it till you make it.
3. Acknowledge and speak to all the people in your patient’s room. The mama is not the only one welcoming a baby into the world. The patient’s family is important and they will appreciate being recognized. Also they can be recruited to help get ice, hold legs and fan the patient. The people in the room will be the ones that will be there to support the mom at home when she is tired and needs help. Include the whole family in patient education so that they can help mom and baby transition successfully.
4. Include the partner or coach in conversations with the patient. A mother’s support person needs to understand and give input on the patient’s plan of care. The decisions are the patients to make, but they often look to their partner or labor coach for guidance.
Including the partner in the conversations with the patient establishes trust and is an element of family centered care.
5. Take lunch off the unit. This may be impossible at some hospitals. If at all possible, leave the unit for your break. Go outside and breathe real air. Take a walk in the sunshine and absorb some vitamin D.
6. Use your relaxation skills to relax yourself. You teach these techniques to patients every day, those same relaxation techniques can benefit stressed nurses!
7. Use your vacation days. Don’t hoard vacation days. People that take less vacation days have less job satisfaction.
8. Join your professional nursing organization. Keeping up to date on new research is exciting and stimulating. Challenge yourself and continue to grow in your specialty.
9. Go out of your way for your patient at least once a shift. They may not thank you, but you will know that you put in extra effort to make your patient’s stay better.
10. When the baby is born take a few seconds to look away from the IV pump, computer and delivery instruments. Witness a new person take his first breath. Watch as a mother holds her baby’s for the first time. Look at a father’s complete reverence and amazement at the miracle that has just occurred.
My New Year’s wish is for all nurses to be reenergized in 2015.
Take the time to make every delivery special for your patients.
For nurses it is just another day at work, but for each mother it’s a day that she will always remember.
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