February 18, 2010
Every once in awhile I have the rare opportunity to be a labor support. I'm a labor nurse, but that doesn't always mean that I am able to be at the bedside the duration of labor. Most times, laboring moms have designated support people with her that she is comfortable with. I am a stranger. I do my part to help her with contractions, usually by getting the dad involved. I'll show him how to provide counter pressure, efflurage, and generally give mom ideas on what she can do to work with the contractions, not against them. Don't get me wrong, I do spend quality time with patients and provide them support. Usually though, they don't need or want me there every minute.Most of the time I'm just not able to do that as I have other patients to tend to. But sometimes I get to do just that: be at the bedside. My patient had been there for quite sometime laboring. The fetal monitor strip wasn't the greatest, but it wasn't horrible. The evening shift nurse pegged her for a c-section. Her baby was one of those babies that wanted to keep you on your toes. Mom was unable to get an epidural because of a history of back problems. She knew it was a possibility, but hoped that there was a chance it was possible. There wasn't. She was only 4 cm and ruptured when I came back on and starting to get into the full throes of labor. Dad was scared, worried and felt helpless. He wanted to do what a lot of dads want to do: make the pain go away and didn't quite know what to do to help. Once I entered that room at the start of the shift, I didn't leave until she was delivered, but to get our box of goodies: muscle massagers, stress balls, lotion, tennis ball. Mom need Dad there to hold her hand and she needed me there to help her with the contractions. I provided counter pressure with each contraction, she used stress balls to clench, we used the massagers on her back and legs. I encouraged her to move around in bed, to stand, use the ball and to try hands and knees. She initially felt "silly" on her hands and knees but soon realized it was pretty helpful. Finally, she entered transition and she spent 1 hour on the toilet (I was able to monitor her while she was in there, baby looked the best in there!). Being able to sit and have the openness of the toilet helped with the back pain and rectal pressure. Shortly after that hour she returned to the bed, told me she just couldn't do it anymore, she wanted a c-section, and this was the worst thing she's ever done. I knew then she was probably ready to push. About that time, she made that earthy grunt as her abdominal muscles clenched to push the baby out. Yep, complete. If you look at a mothers belly when her body starts pushing down, you can see it happnening. She didn't push too long, and delivered a healthy baby. After it was all said and done, she looked at me and said "That was interesting". I had read in one of my midwife memoirs a story about a woman who called birth "interesting". I was just surprised to hear her say those exact words. She said it wasn't too bad and that it was what she expected in some ways, but not in others. She was glad and proud she had done it. As for me, I felt like I was a "real" labor support. She delivered that baby after a long labor, Dad cried, and Mom was proud of her ability to give birth. The greatest thanks came when out at the desk, Dad came out and thanked me for my support to her, and to him, and when Mom said she couldn't have done it without me. Well, she could have, but I'll take it. I left work satisfied, tired, but happy.