Labor and Delivery Complications: Bad Nurse, Sick Baby, No Doctor!


A new baby may need additional medical care – are you ready for a longer hospital stay? Photo courtesy of Janine Kelbach

As a nurse in labor and delivery, I deal with many apprehensive parents on a day-to-day basis. You are nervous and excited about taking home this little bundle of joy and calling him your own – but, what if he gets sick and you can’t take him home right away? What if the biggest day of your life is ruined by the nurse who you feel is careless about your needs? Your doctor said he will deliver you, yet he’s not on call tonight? Here’s what you need to know in these situations, and how to feel a little more at ease if it happens to you.

Sick Baby Can’t Go Home

Approximately 10% of infants need resuscitation at birth, according to the Neonatal Resuscitation Program. 

What if your baby is part of that statistic? Sometimes baby health problems aren’t even an issue at birth; some babies have to receive antibiotics for infection, some have feeding problems, and some may be jaundiced and need phototherapy.

In situations like this, it is good to know what your options as parents are. First, check with the hospital prior to admission to see what happens if your baby has to stay.

I urge you to attend a prenatal class for your institution and ask them specifically, “What does this hospital do if my infant has to stay longer than me?” The most common situation is the parents would get a room on the unit free of charge and would be free to come and go as their infant recovers, but in a hospital that is routinely overcrowded, you may need to make alternate arrangements.

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Bad Nurse in Labor and Delivery

Another situation in which you may be caught off guard and not know the next step is your nursing care. Most people think of their obstetrician or midwife as the most important person in the delivery of their child, but most women would disagree after actually having a child. Your OB or midwife won’t show up until the very end – your nurse is the one who really matters. The nurse is the one who is with you the entire time, and is your advocate for pain relief, comfort options, and the “tricks” to get you delivered.

Now, what if you and your labor nurse just didn’t get off to a good start? Maybe she is having a bad day, and you feel she’s being overly harsh, or not responsive to your needs? Ask that nurse if you could speak to the ‘charge nurse’ and voice your concerns. In the unfortunate event that your nurse is the charge nurse, ask to speak the director of the unit.

Remember, you’re not being mean to your nurse; you need to get the care you deserve. Requesting a change of nurses does not to mean that you are going to get bad care, either. As an assistant nurse manager, I can tell you that patient satisfaction is always top priority, so if you aren’t happy, please explain the issues and get a new nurse if necessary.

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  1. […] birth team are your labor nurses. If you are in a large-enough hospital, always feel the freedom to ask for a different nurse if you don’t mesh with yours. Having a nurse in the room that you don’t like or feel […]

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