labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

P.O. vs B.O, It Still Stinks

I think it is time to repost one of the all time biggest hits from Life & Times. Hope you find a chuckle in it the second time around.

P.O. vs. B.O.

Sometimes there are women who must have a poor sense of smell or even maybe even a lack of olfactory nerves that comes into the labor unit. And she always seems to have a posse of others with the same problem.
What do you mean, you ask? I'm talking P.O. people. Think B.O. just substitute that B. And I must say I would highly prefer the B.O.
Now I usually try to remind myself that these women are in labor. Maybe they felt like they didn't have enough time to take a shower. Or maybe it began on the drive over to the hospital. I really try to cut them some slack, but it's really hard to do when the person came in for an induction and had plenty of time to shower before coming in because she wasn't in labor. And it is really hard to do when you are assisting in an exam where you end up having to revive the person going into the battlefield, if you know what I mean.
Now, nurses and doctors don't sit around the desk talking about your private parts. We see so many of them that if you walked in with a vagina on your forehead we wouldn't blink. But when we have to resort to shallow breathing and Haz-Mat suits while in the room or keeping a bottle of Febreeze handy it gets us talking.
First we make the pronouncement that yes, Virginia, there is an odor. And no, Virginia, it isn't pretty. And so we contemplate as a group, "Does she realize she stinks?" and "Does anyone else that is with her know she stinks?" If the answer is yes to the second question, then I want to know why didn't they kindly inform the woman of the stench so that she could do something about it? And then we wonder, is it infection? So depending on the doctor they may decide to do a culture but I must say it always comes back as a really bad case of stink puss. I've had one case where the stink was so bad that the baby came out smelling foul, and it persisted even after a bath. Who wants to snuggle a baby who smells like a 10 day old dead salmon?
And it also put us in a predicament. Do we want to say something? Absolutely! But how do you delicately approach such a topic with someone you just met? First off, I offer the shower or jacuzzi as a way to help with labor. This will provide a two fold bonus for all involved. It will help the woman feel better and keep the people caring for her from singeing their nose hairs. If she doesn't do this, then I start hosing her down. When I am changing the wet pads underneath her in bed, for instance, I use that little peri bottle to wash her off a bit. It doesn't work perfectly, but at least keeps the amniotic fluid and bloody show from joining in the potpourri. And when all is said and done, I push the shower. And let me tell you, for as many women who beg for a shower even before they have got out of bed for the first time after the birth there are as many who don't want anything to do with it at all. Maybe they like their stink. Perhaps it's a way for them to make a mark of where they have traveled.
Likely no one will ever tell you that you have stinky crotchitis. So do yourself a favor and take a shower if at all possible prior to coming to the hospital. Use soap. And dry well after. Put cotton underwear on. These simple steps go a long way.


kellg said...

Labor nurse:

I took 5-6 baths (with good smelling body wash) before going to the hospital to deliver in late July, and yet I was still concerned that my nether regions would be stinky. Throughout my pg, I was acutely aware of a smell eminating from that area that no amount of bathing and cotton underwear seemed to help. I don't know if it was due to an increased sensitivity to smell or an actual change in my body. I wish that if my doctor would have noticed that he would have said something, so I could have taken corrective action. Am I crazy or is this normal? Any ideas?

Labor Nurse said...

I've never heard of pregnant women having a smell. Yes, the senses are stronger so you were likely more sensitive to it; typically anything foul, pungent, fishy, etc, needs to be checked out. And vaginal discharge increases in pregnancy as well. I'd like to think any provider would say something to their patient if they consistantly smelled something. But its a delicate situation.

Anonymous said...

Ditto what the first poster said.

I constantly felt "not so fresh" during my pregnancy (despite frequent showers) so your post is pretty mortifying. Could you be talking about me?

doula_char said...

I'm one of those women who actually has anosmia, a mild genetic birth defect related to cleft pallet, which results in having no sense of smell.

I'm also adopted, which means that I didn't know about the birth defect until I was in my twenties, and looking for my birth family.

To make a long story short, from the time I hit puberty, I stunk. I smelled bad.. but I couldn't tell, and I didn't believe my mom... I couldn't smell me.. how could I smell bad?

I WISH one of my pediatricians or nurses as I was growing up had said something to me about this! I would have had a LOT more friends.

Michele in Michigan said...

ROFL--and perhaps I shouldn't--but I can TOTALLY relate! I just HATE pulling covers down a little to listen to FHTs. Holy shit.

Anonymous said...

Honey I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. I truly truly believe in my heart that normal lady parts are fantastic, clean, and work just fine-- but yeah there are some pts that just shock ya...

I think its a product of self-neglect and/or a bad relationship with their body. Some ladies just literally don't go there much less use a little soap and water. They are totally dissociated from their vagina.

I also swear that the ladies that truly have this problem are the same ones that think breastfeeding is too "gross" to try. I could be wrong, but its a theory...