Travel May 20, 2016

How New L&D Travel Nurses Deal With the Ick Factor

Most labor and delivery nurses never have a dull day. The vast majority of births go smoothly and result in happy patients, beautiful babies and the ooohs and ahhs of supportive families. Those who become staff or travel L&D nurses participate in the most wondrous experience in human existence.

On the other hand . . . when beautiful brides become new moms, no part gets photoshopped.

Mom’s gas, vomiting, bowel movements and placenta can destabilize even the most well-trained—but new—traveling labor and delivery nurses. The experienced nurses get through these sights and smells only through the power of repeat exposure. Reading through what you’ll be seeing on a daily basis starts to take the edge off. 

1.  Bowel Movements

Common when mothers push their babies out. Don’t be surprised to see your fair share of fecal matter, as many moms are caught unaware when that first labor pain hits and may have eaten beforehand.

2.  Vomiting

Also a common side effect of post-c-section medications. Most of the time new moms know that their vomit bowl is right next to them, but there are instances where a new mom’s reflexes aren’t quick enough to retrieve the bowl, and their vomit can cover themselves, their baby and nearby doctors and nurses.

3.  Gassy Outbursts

A regular occurrence for birthing moms, especially those who have just received an epidural. This is because epidurals remove feeling from the waist down, preventing moms from controlling any gaseous release.

4.  Placenta, Blood Clots and Umbilical Cord

Miracles of reproduction, but they’re also large and often highly vascularized. Take a look on Google images to prepare yourself for the bloody, brain-looking structure that fed the baby for nine months.

5.  Mother’s Hormonal Destabilization

You can handle the clinical tasks just fine, but how about handling a mom who is in loads of pain and under radical hormonal fluctuation? Some new moms may even immediately begin demonstrating signs of postpartum psychosis or postpartum depression. 

6.  Upsetting Personalities of Spouses

Usually the spouse of the birth mother is elated with anticipation about his soon-to-arrive bundle of joy, but there are those dads who have their own crazy range of emotions, from fear, to stress to sadness. It can be touchy dealing with a dad who has control issues and is unable to manage his own out-of-control feelings about the onset of fatherhood. Travel nurses who come into the scene just for this birth can be taken by surprise by belligerent family members.

How Can New Labor and Delivery Nurses Cope?

Just because you shudder or stiffen during uncomfortable situations that occur during the birth process doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the wrong profession. Keep these tips in mind: 

1. Expose Yourself to Images of What You’ll Be Seeing

Any labor and delivery travel nurse program will expose new nurses to graphic photos of every stage of the delivery process. Don’t turn away from these. Toughen yourself up to seeing these natural and normal occurrences.

2. Share Your Stories of “Gross” Incidences With Others

Talking about any and all “horror stories” is a release, and a little venting on your part can be healthy. Be careful whom you choose to share with, however, and do not violate any HIPPA laws while doing so. If you’re going to share with other L&D travel nurses or friends and family, leave out specific information like any names or other descriptors that could identify the patient. If you feel even this is unprofessional, consider journaling.

3. If Possible, Work Out a Nurse-Duty-Swap Deal

Some nurses have a higher tolerance for certain “gross” procedures than others, so if you can handle needles or blood samples just fine, but you’re skittish when it comes to cleaning up bowel movements, work out a task-swap with another nurse on duty with you.

4. Make Sure Your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is on Correctly

The PPE is frequently the only barrier between you and a projectile poop or vomit in your direction. If it weren’t for your PPE, your time would be wasted cleaning yourself up, instead of where your time should be: caring for your patient. Also, the PPE helps you feel more confident, making you a better nurse.

5. Develop Trust With the Birthing Mom

When birthing moms feel taken care of, they respond with a sense of relief, which will ultimately ease their stress levels. The new mom’s production of milk can also be adversely affected by high stress levels as well. Still, all staff and travel labor and delivery nurses must be aware of the signs of depression and psychosis. These illnesses may be brought out of a latent state by the delivery.

Ready to take your nursing skills on the road? Be a part of the most wonderful time of a family’s life when you read about fantastic travel labor and delivery nursing jobs available across the United States.


© 2016. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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