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

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Think Again, Smarty

I've been listening to some talk about how obstetrical nurses don't have enough compassion for laboring women, or women who have recently given birth, if the nurse has not done so herself. I've said this before, and I will say this again: that's bullshit. While those of us can not exactly know what it feels like, we know how to care for a women who does. If it so appears that a nurse doesn't have any compassion or caring in her for a woman in labor, it has nothing to do with whether or not she's given birth. It has to do with the nurse just being in the wrong speciality, or even career, or she just plain sucks.

Now, how ridiculous would it be to have these same expectations on nurses in other fields? If this were the case, then here are some of the following implications and requirements of nurses:

  • Oncology nurses must have suffered from cancer.
  • Orthopedic nurses must have suffered from injury resulting in multiple fractures.
  • Emergency nurses must have suffered from catastrophic trauma resulting in almost losing their life.
  • GI nurses must have suffered from a bowel disease resulting in a colostomy.
  • Bariatric nurses must have suffered from obesity.
  • Gyn nurses must have suffered from reproductive tract disease.
  • Psychiatric nurses must have been committed for mental illness.
  • OR nurses must go under the knife.
  • Home care nurses must have been housebound at one point in their lives.
  • Hospice nurses must be dying, or have a family member dying.
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (S.A.N.E) must be raped.
Get my point? It's absolutely insane to think that for a nurse to be effective in her (or his) care must know from a personal perspective what their patient is feeling.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree. The best nurses who cared for me when I had my son didn't have children of their own. Having children has nothing to do with it.

Jack and Lexi's Mom said...

I was a better L/D before I had my children without pain meds. Now my attitude is, "get a grip! This isn't that bad! I've done it twice, on pitocin, and without drugs. Quit your whining, shut up and push!" I try not to express this attitude. I try to be compassionate and patient. Sometimes it is very hard. Before I did it, I was ALL supportive and in awe of the process.

Hilary said...

Yes, that is ridiculous. Two of the best midwives that I trained with, including the one who was my doula for my second birth, are childless. In fact, one of them taught one of our classes, and told us that, historically, many midwives were childless. They were the ones who could leave at all hours and stay with laboring women - the ones with no babies of their own.

Your analysis of the other areas of medicine that it wouldn't apply to either make a lot of sense. it is a temperament and attitude thing, not an experience thing. I know plenty of people who have had children who would (and do) make lousy labor attendants.

may said...

i cannot agree more. in a similar point, i have seen so many pediatricians who do not have kids but are very compassionate to their patients.

i have had many AIDS and cancer patients to whom i have given all my compassion, without literally experiencing what they were going through.

in contrast, i have met nurses who cannot even be nice to people who are throwing up, like they have never puked in their lives before. it's all in the attitude.

Anonymous said...


One of the people I've gotten the best parenting advice from has no children (fertility issues and no money to adopt--she desparately wanted children). She did the next best thing--she became a family therapist.

She told me at one point that she felt that not having children allowed her to remain in a church that she eventually learned had some serious toxic attitudes toward children (which is where I met her--started going there 7 years before I had children and left before my first was born, so I was pretty oblivious to the parenting advice being given out). She was viewed as a "wise older woman" by the women of the church, and taught a parenting class for several years before she moved out of state. I still keep in touch.