5.7.07: Why I'm an Expert
I credit Butterfly McQueen as my inspiration for becoming a labor nurse. "Miz Scarlett. Babies! I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies.' I like to quote that line from Gone With the Wind right about the time my patients start pushing. It lightens the mood. OK, not really. I've been a labor and delivery nurse for so long (17 years) I ought to know everything 'bout birthin' babies. Then somebody different shows up and "birthing styles" change. There's still plenty to learn.
I've lost track of how many deliveries I've assisted. Thousands, at least. From the most natural to the most medical. I can hypnobirth, Lamaze, or Bradley/Reed with the best of them but can also get you a quick epidural. I claim five kids in my personal posse: Three daughters, a son and a niece. They currently range from 7 to 23 years old and I'm 46 (proud of it). They've each taught me something different about pregnancy and parenting. Pregnant all the way through nursing school (at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center) with my two oldest (back-to-back) daughters I became an expert on "pregnant-in-college" and learned that "yes-you-can-too-get-pregnant-while breastfeeding" (and using contraceptives). I worked night shift (yeah, '“all night" while everybody else sleeps) when my son came along—achieving my '“pregnant-and-working" merit badge. I earned my '“advanced maternal age gran multip stripes" when my youngest was born and I was almost 40. That's medical-speak for "older mom with lots of kids." I had three in the hospital and one in my midwife's office. Two doctor, two midwife deliveries. Three with epidurals and one without. Breastfed them all well past a year, except for the youngest who only got three months. Then I got breast cancer (don't worry, I'm fine but I don't want to be anyone's expert on this). I learned about parenting through illness and bottle-feeding. My niece is the oldest of the five. Hers is a special story accompanied by it's own set of learning experiences.
I'm an RN (registered nurse), not an MD (doctor) or CNM (certified nurse midwife). If you're pregnant and need to visit a maternity unit, I'm your girl. I guide patients through pregnancy, labor, delivery, recovery, breastfeeding and newborn care. Yes, every patient's different, but the basic anatomy, physiology and birthing process is the same. Most practitioners leave labor up to the nurses and trust us to call when we need them and in time for delivery.
If you need a C-section—I'll get you ready and take care of you and your baby during surgery and recovery. If you come in sick, I'll administer the medications to get you well. First baby? I'll teach you everything you need to know to safely take the baby home. Breastfeeding? I'm on it—from the first latch all the way through pumping. Bottle-feeding? No problem, I'll help you decipher the mysteries of formula. First bath? That's me, teaching as I go. I don't diagnose (I gather information so your practitioner can), do surgery (I have other jobs in the operating room that don't involve the scalpel), prescribe medicine (I give them) or (routinely) deliver the baby though, after all these years, I've delivered quite a few. Some babies are fast and some doctors are slow'… In my business, you have to know a lot about birthin' them babies.
Six years ago, I started freelance writing about anything I could sell to magazines and newspapers. No big surprise that I write a lot about pregnancy, parenting, and newborn care. I've got a range though—truffle making to skateboarding. Like I said, whatever I can sell. I'm a working mom. My husband (and father of all my kids) is my tag-team partner in raising this family and the best man I know. We've been married for 25 years. We live in Portland, OR and I work at Providence Portland Medical Center. That's me—your labor and delivery expert and this is my blog: Ask a labor nurse'…anything.
Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be answered in a future blog post.
This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.