Nov 062012

“But you were so calm that I didn’t believe you.” – L&D Nurse to mother after the mother birthed her baby unassisted when the nurse suddenly ran out of the room to get help, as the mother had said she had to push.

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 November 6, 2012  birth, L&D Nurse  Add comments

  34 Responses to ““…You Were So Calm That I Didn’t Believe You.””

  1. So, why did you think I was saying I had to push?
    I’ll never understand this one. If mom says she needs to push, don’t you think she has some kind of urge? Why else would she say it?!

  2. If the baby is crowning, shouldn’t the nurse remain in the room to assist rather than running away to find someone else who can assist?

    And really, it’s not as if there are doctors wandering the halls of L&D of most hospitals. Whom did the nurse think she was going to find?

    Note that the nurse is subtly blaming the woman. The woman delivered unassisted not just because the nurse failed to believe her, but because the woman deceived the nurse by being calm and in control.

    • At my friend’s recent hospital birth, they literally did grab a random doctor from the hallway to assist when her baby was crowning. He turned out to be a pediatrician who was there to do a newborn exam. It had been years since his OB rotation, but he was so honored to be there.

    • My DD#2 was born in one contraction, two pushes. Sometimes, “I need to push” is all the warning you get.

      Or sometimes you don’t even say that(I didn’t say anything… just pushed. Accidental unassisted in the car. All future births will be planned home, with provision for the chance of another A.U.).

  3. I took it as the nurse apologizing for not believing her. Suppose it depends on the tone. Some women push for an hour and some pop those babies right out. Is there some reason the nurse couldn’t use her voice or the call button to get more help? Leaving the room doesn’t seem like the brightest idea.

    • The call button precisely! Isn’t this why we’re supposed to birth in the hospital, because help is only a call button away? And what if this had been a cord prolapse? Would the nurse have been running the hallways like a chicken with no head screaming for help? In my opinion, people who can’t keep their wits about them in an emergency should maybe consider a different career.

    • Without actually saying “I apologize” or “I’m sorry” all this nurse is doing is attempting to rationalize her behavior, make excuses and assign fault.

    • And yet, that’s exactly what happened when I had my second baby. And I had been pushing for quite some time, ineffectively because I was forced (literally, physically forced) into a bad position. I had told them repeatedly that I needed to move because I could feel my son nearly crown, and then slide back. Finally a new nurse came in and let me move — and she was SHOCKED when my baby immediately crowned. She yelled at me to stop pushing, and ran out into the hallway to get a doctor.

      So, yeah, no reason why they shouldn’t have been ready for me to birth my son, but the moment he crowned it was OMG panic, where’s a doctor?

  4. We’re taught in paramedic school to NEVER question 2 statements:

    1) Somebody calmly states that they are going to die
    2) Mother says the baby is coming.

    Apparently not all medical professionals are taught the same. Too bad!

    • How jaded is this nurse that she thinks mom was lying? What, pray tell, would be the beneit of such a lie?

      And maybe I shouldn’t be focused on the financial aspects of this, but I would be pissed if the bill included a charge for the delivery. Charge for the space fine, but if it was unattended the bill should reflect that.

      • I am in Canada so not up on all the billing stuff but…. I think I had read somewhere that some people have been charged for attending the birth as long as the Dr. was there to deliver the placenta…

    • If you don’t mind, what is the proper response when someone calmly states, “I’m going to die”? Do you then shift to comforting mode?

      • I’ve been an EMT for 12 years now. When a pt says that they are going to die, I tell them the truth. “I am going to do everything I can to keep you alive”. Only once did I say “you’re not gonna die today” because the girl jammed her finger playing basketball. And called 911 because of it.

        • Thank you. That sounds like a really measured and calming response.

          A friend of mine once had a guy who called 911 at 2AM because he broke his toe. She taped it up for him. I can’t imagine the thought process behind calling 911 for a jammed finger or a broken toe.

          • Jane, I’m an ER nurse and wish so much I could be surprised at these stories, but sadly no. So far my favorite is the gentleman who reported to the ER for a case of hammertoe….a painless, non-ill condition he was born with many decades earlier.

          • Maybe it was a symptom of something else, like he’d also been born blind and when his vision was miraculously restored, he looked down and noticed his toe?


      • Sometimes, usually if it’s a heart attack or trauma, people just know they’re going to die. It’s strange. At that point I get ready for some major resuscitation!

        • Exactly. Ideally nobody codes, but I do appreciate the warning from the pt.

          I have had people (usually family members) get upset with my answer of “I’ll do everything I can to keep you alive” becsuse it’s not really answering the question. It’s redirecting, and some people find it condescending. But I honestly don’t know what else to say. Do I reassure them that all will be fine? It might not be, then I look incompetent and open myself up to lawsuits. If I agree that they might die, I still look incompetent and have lost the trust of the patient. Between a rock and a hard place….

        • But how do you talk to them at that point? I know you’re an EMT and you can’t just hold their hands — I do like the above response, “I’m going to do everything I can to keep you alive.” It’s calm and professional and would leave me feeling reassured if I were on the receiving end.

          • Exactly what Trisha said – it really is between a rock and a hard place. My response is usually something like, “It’s my job to do everything I can to prevent that from happening.”

    • Great tip – thanks. I wish…

    • I’ve also been an EMT for years, and I have the same response as Jenn & Trisha. Take the patient seriously (considering the context). If there’s no chance we can rescue them (although we keep trying often), these are their final moments: as solemn as birth and not to be wasted. They usually want a message delivered to their lived ones, and part of my care for them is delivering that message, not shutting them up as I blather on about how they’ll be fine and can pores on the message themself.

  5. My daughter was born with only the nurse (and my family) in the room on our request. The doctor/residents had checked me, found me to be 8cms, walked out and 15 mins later my daughter came falling out. lol

  6. This happened to me as well, rocked up at 6cm walking and chatting, headed up to l&d where the nurse got huffy when she couldn’t find the heart rate via Doppler (mid major contraction btw) because I wanted 15min to settle in before any monitoring so walked out, the next contraction I had my now 8mth old in a push and a half and was holding him before they could reply to the call button despite being just out the door.

    • I had also just come off the monitors from downstairs on admission, god I wish I had know to drag that midwife with me she was awesome, instead got stuck with what I got. On the plus side my hubby now admits that we could have stayed home (big issue for him prior)

  7. Dear Nurse,

    Human beings have instincts. You might consider learning to trust them.


  8. Almost missed this when (finally) sorting through my email.

    This was a little over a month ago when I had my 6th delivery. I warned the nursing staff that I have a nearly nonexistent pushing stage, the longest that I have voluntarily pushed was 3 pushes for any of my kids. The OB/Midwife has only made it to my room in time for 2 of my deliveries.
    I think what threw her off the most was that I was laboring completely naturally. The only thing that I consented to was a hep-lock and I let them monitor baby before, during and after one contraction each hour. I am just naturally a very calm, quiet person. I was completely fine between contractions and the loudest I got during a contraction was maybe a few slow, deep breaths. (Hubby literally sleep through 95% of my labor.)

    I stayed in the shower for most of my transition until my water finally broke. (My only dramatic water breakage, it sprayed a good 5 ft before hitting the wall.) I reached down to feel forehead and a little nose and realized the he was presenting with his forehead/face. I woke up Hubby so that he could call the nursing station to let them know. When the nurse came in the room, I had her break down the bed so that I could sit/squat on the edge of it and asked her if the squat bar was in the room. (It wasn’t.) She then told me that they wanted a 20 minute strip since my water broke. I told her that I was feeling pushy and there wouldn’t be time for it. I could feel him starting to crown at the beginning of the next contraction. She saw that and she freaked out a bit. She ran out of the room yelling for a nurse. His head came out in that contraction so I supported his head and Hubby took over at that point and got to deliver our son and placed him on my chest. Just the three of us in the room. It was quite nice and peaceful. A little while later a midwife strolled in and joked about hubby getting a part of her paycheck. Everyone just kind of hung out while we waited for the placenta to be delivered and then Hubby cut the cord. Since he looked good, they waited to give him his first exam until her was a couple hours old. We got to rub all the good vernix into his skin and Hubby also gave him his first bath the next day right before we were discharged.
    The same nurse that freaked out came back later and admitted that she had panicked. She said that about halfway to the nurses station she realized, “Wait, I am the nurse!” and then followed up with the above comment. It was her first week on the floor and based on my behavior, she had guessed that I was at maybe a 5 or 6 at the most. (I didn’t consent to internal exams from the staff.)She seemed to actually learn something from it though.
    The funniest thing to me is that I had actually considered birthing at home but Hubby was nervous about if he had to catch the baby if the midwife didn’t get there in time, lol.
    (Ok, time to brag a little.)
    He is a calm and happy 5 week old now. He was a teeny little thing at 6lb 11oz. Since I didn’t have any IV fluids he only lost about 2oz and was up past his birth weight at his 2 day old appointment. He is now over 10lbs after only getting breastmilk! His big sisters and brothers fawn over him incessantly and he takes it all in stride.

    • Wow, that is an awesome story!
      I’m glad you taught newbie a thing or two and I’m glad she was open to learning. I don’t like that she sort of blamed you, but I think she came out with a good lesson. Glad hubby got to catch!!

    • That “Wait, I am the nurse” comment is awesome. Since she was new to the unit, she gets a pass. :-) I’m glad you had such an amazing birth, and congrats on him getting so big!

    • That is such an awesome story, despite the nurse’s mistake! I’m glad you had a good experience. :)

    • I always wonder with birthers like this on why you don’t just stay home to birth if this is what your birthing history is like?! O.o

  9. Oh how ironic! An unassisted hospital birth!

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