Thursday, February 14, 2013

Some L&D Misperceptions

There are some blatant and sometimes disturbing misperceptions out least coming from the point of view of a nurse.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much misunderstanding there is regarding human anatomy and the birthing process.  I think I've mentioned before about how many people have asked me, with horror on their faces, right after a woman's membranes rupture: "But how will the baby BREATHE?!"

(Answer:  They don't breathe until they are on the OUTSIDE.) (You may be confused because when doctors perform a Biophysical Profile to check the baby's well-being, he looks for "breathing movements."  Click here for a nice explanation of the simply miraculous chain of events that happen after birth for baby to move from umbilical cord oxygenation to breathing.)

Another one that comes up way more often than it should is when I insert the foley catheter.  "So how is the baby going to come out with that tube in there?"  After further investigation, I find that some people believe that women urinate out of the same place where the baby comes out.  Dear no.  OK, somebody didn't pay attention in health class.  Women have three holes.  (Diagram for your educational benefit.)

But the funniest anatomy misunderstanding comes from my traveling nurse friend.  We'll call her Peggy.  (Did I mention how much I LOVE travelers?  They save our LIVES!  And those nurses who are mean to them should be made to work a few shifts all alone without help with a full census to help develop their sense of appreciation...and then tarred and feathered.  Just sayin')  Anyway, Peggy tells of a husband who came running into the unit with his wife straggling behind him.  He held up a ziplock bag containing a blood clot about the size of a fist.

Now, before I go on with this story, let me just interject something on behalf of your well as your doctor:  I know that on some websites and in some books they advise you that if something comes out of you, to bring it in to be examined by your healthcare professional.  PLEASE DON'T DO THIS.  It's gross.  

Why do so many of you bring in your mucus plugs?  None of us want to see that.  And really, we NEVER care that you lost your mucus plug...ever.  Amen.  

You can just describe it...that should be sufficient.  Please, for heaven's sake.

But back to my story.  So, here was Peggy with this Asian man, who was obviously extremely fearful, holding up a plastic bag full of blood clot...dark red, coagulated, and jelly-like, shouting, "It's her LEEE-VER!  It's her LEEE-VER!!" with his poor unfortunate liver-less wife walking by herself behind him to the desk. 

I don't blame him.  If my liver just came plopping out of my uterus into the toilet, I think I'd be pretty distraught too...and certainly not alive enough to come walking into the hospital by myself.  Who could blame him?

On the serious side, though, these may make us chuckle, but that's where our classic duties of nursing come in to play...duties of "Comforter," "Care-Giver," and sometimes most importantly "Educator."  Thank the Lord for nurses...and their patience! I'm not trying to toot my own horn here. I'm talking about the people I have worked with over the years. I am always humbled and amazed at the hearts of these men and women.


  1. lmao that diagram haha!!!!! is your vagina supposed to be that big?! omg :)

  2. Gotta love those "show and tell" patients! Thanks for the laugh, from a fellow labor and delivery nurse. :)

  3. Patient, professional, competent nurses are WONDERFUL. I'm looking forward to the teaching part of my job as a nurse because I used to be a teacher; I have two teaching credentials. And one of those is in Special Education. Given the patients you're describing, that extra credential could come in real handy - if I can keep a straight face!

  4. PLEASE post more L&D stories. They are very nice and entertaining to read! I've been on your blog for a while just reading all your experiences and i love them! Hope you post more soon :)

  5. One of my favorite experiences came after I'd been a nurse for a year or two (practically a baby myself, right?!) First indication that this family is not very education or informed is when I walk into the room carrying a bag of Pit for her induction. Her FIL asks, "Is that thing right there the bag of seduction fluid to get this going? I couldn't help myself...."Actually this is the INduction fluid...I think she might've had the other type 9 months or so ago." (The patient, who WAS very well-informed and educated, couldn't catch a good breath for 5 min.)

    We have a nice, beautiful delivery that goes wonderfully. Cord is cut, babe is placed skin to skin until mom requests we clean the baby up a bit before she nurses. The baby nurse has the baby under the warmer for assessment across the room, and she's just cooing and squalling and kicking up a storm, so healthy! I'm still beside mom, assisting the doc, when the placenta is delivered. The FOB gets a horrified look on his face as he looks from the placenta, to his wife, back to placenta, to the doc, placenta again, then several times rapidly between his daughter and the newly delivered placenta. In a shocked whisper he asked the doctor and I if that was his daughter's liver. First thing I do I shoot warning darts with my eyes at the nurse attending the baby....she's been known to be quite the jokester and definitely is the Queen of Sarcasm. With a completely straight face, she looks at the new dad and says, "Yes, that's she liver. These babies DO come with some assembly knew that right??" His face was priceless.....