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I’m Cranky, and These Labor Nurses Aren’t Helping

January 31, 2008

Look, I know it can be helpful to members of every workplace or profession to blow off steam about their bosses, their clients, or whichever people make them crazy on a regular basis. However, I tend to think that kind of thing should happen privately, over beers, in person, rather than being posted online where all of your potential clients can see it.

Well-Preserved linked to this Rules of Labor and Delivery piece in the OB Nurses forum on CafeMom. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be funny. Yes, I know you have jobs that can be trying. However, when I see things like this, and then see other L&D nurses commenting on how hysterical and true it is, I hope as hard as I can that I’m never unlucky enough to be one of these folks’ patients. Sure, maybe they’re professional in person. I just don’t appreciate knowing the sentiment is there, underneath.

For example:

11. This day and time, if a patient is between the ages of 37 and 42… she has had approximatley 2-5 partners. If she is between the ages of 28-36, the average is 7. If she is in her early to mid twenties, then her age is how many partners she’s had… If she is a teenager, then “too numerous to count” applies. (and she has had, or currently has chlamydia or trich)


12. Open your damn legs. If you were a virgin, you wouldn’t be here.


13. Shave that sh*t. If we wanted a trip to the jungle… we’d go there.


15. You’d better be nice to your nurse. She, not the physician, decides when you get pain medication… There is such a thing as placebo. We can also make you wait the entire 2 hours… adding 45 minutes for our convenience… or we can give it to you 15 minutes early…. it’s all in your attitude.


16. The fewer visitors you have in with you… the better mood your nurse will be in.


17. Get rid of that one “know it all” visitor before it’s too late. She can ruin the entire experience for you by pissing me off.


25. If you’re an addict, we already have a preconceived notion about you, and we probably don’t like you. Nothing personal… it’s just the way it is. You chose that life… now live it.

In one fell swoop, we have assumptions about sexual history, disregard for drug addicts who may actually need their help, rude comments about women’s bodies, a threat to withhold pain relief, and general threats regarding visitors. If that’s seriously how you look at your patients, get out of the business. It’s not funny.

Update: It looks as though they’ve made the group private overnight so the forum posts cannot be seen. I’d say it’s a little late for that.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Emily permalink
    January 31, 2008 5:48 pm

    I have a nagging suspicion that nurses and dr’s believe this stuff when I say something and they have that “blank” nod and semi-smile that really wasn’t anywhere near as comforting as they probably thought it was. That’s around the time I stop co-operating. I feel safer left to haemorage than facing this sort.

  2. January 31, 2008 7:16 pm

    The sad thing about this is that for some nurses, its true. But I take offense that the person posting this assumes all nurses in labor and delivery feel this way. Here are my responses to the above list:

    11. I don’t ever ask my laboring moms how many sexual partners she’s had. All I care about is that she’s going to have a baby, and that she doesn’t have any current infections.

    12. While we all know that the only immaculate conception occurred many years ago, there is still such a thing as modesty and just because a woman is pregnant doesn’t mean she is ready to spread her legs to the world. On the other hand, you can’t give birth with your legs crossed, and so we need you to open up for that.

    13. Who cares? I know more nurses bothered by a woman who hasn’t cleaned herself like… ever.

    15. Wow. This is just unethical, and reportable to the Board of Nursing. I think this nurse has it all wrong… who wants to care for a woman who’s losing her mind because of her pain? I want to give these women the pain medication ASAP if they are asking for it!

    16. & 17. Of any of these, I’d say that many nurses would agree. I say ignore them if it’s that bad.

    25. People who believe this don’t belong in healthcare. This is an ignorant attitude. Shame on them! Yes, an addict may have initially chosen to take that drink or do that drug, but they didn’t chose to be addicts. No one does. Addicts are people with incredible emotional pain, and they need our understanding.

    Thanks, Rachel, for letting me rant!

  3. January 31, 2008 7:19 pm

    For 9 years, I worked with nurses on the administrative end of things in both a non-hospital and hospital setting…they can be some of the most kind-hearted people; and yet I have also worked with some of the most non-compassionate, jaded people who didn’t deserve the title RN, as well.

    I’m glad somebody got on that thread and called them out for it.

  4. January 31, 2008 7:25 pm

    Labor Nurse, I knew you’d have something to say about this one. Your responses are quite heartening.

  5. January 31, 2008 9:08 pm

    Even though I’ve never had a baby, I’ve been around a LOT of nurses. I’ve actually got a bit of nursephobia, because I think that what Ginger said is spot on.

  6. January 31, 2008 9:37 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some fantastic nurses – the recovery nurse who was with me when I woke up in pain and afraid after thyroid surgery will always stand out in my mind. Those fantastic nurses, though, were not just technically competent – they were caring, compassionate, and comforting, something the L&D list above clearly does not display.

  7. January 31, 2008 10:51 pm

    Oh, I’ve had some very wonderful nurses. In fact, my rheumatologist’s nurse is now one of my favourite people. She actually CALLS ME to make sure that I’m doing okay with my medication regimen. And she’ll stay on the phone for 10 minutes to talk me through things. That’s phenomenal.

    I’ve also had wonderful nurses in the ER and during various stays in the hospital. I’ll say, though, that for every 5 great nurses I’ve had 1 AWFUL nurse. For some reason the awful ones stay with you…

  8. snikta permalink
    February 1, 2008 9:30 am


    When you do eventually have children, you need to do it in Morristown. Our L&D nurse, Debbie, is the absolute best nurse in the entire history of medicine, and she will not ever lose that title. Sorry, Labor Nurse.

    A good nurse is so important in any medical situation, but I think the need is amplified with birth. Debbie was never far away, but never obtrusive when she was in the room. She was always welcome by us, and welcoming to our visitors. She knew our needs long before we did. She really made the experience (the labor part) wonderfully pleasant. And I know that an incompetent nurse would have made us miserable.

    I applaud all nurses. They are the often unsung heroes of the medical profession, and are terribly underpaid. They provide most of your care and doctors would be lost without them. A good nurse is the best thing in the world.

    We need to get together again, so you can meet P.

  9. February 1, 2008 10:54 am

    As a nurse (practitioner) it makes me really angry to see this kind of disrespectful crap in print. I am certainly guilty, as are most of us, of the random un-PC thought or even a comment, but this list displays a disregard for the patient’s humanity (and a disturbing misogyny) and makes those nurses look very uncaring. Sometimes judgement about what is humorous and what is cruel is not apparent. The “angel of mercy” stereotype of nurses is overblown and cliched–we’re not all selfless angels, but this portrayal is truly unfortunate.
    I’m not into religious references as a rule, but I say this nurse ought to, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” What goes around, comes around.

  10. Emily permalink
    March 17, 2008 2:15 pm

    What about this blog?
    The lady really seems to have an issue with natural birth. I’m suspect she thinks all pg women are idiots.

  11. March 17, 2008 5:05 pm

    Emily, I haven’t been reading that one for very long. I’m sometimes amused by the anecdotes, but haven’t gone deep enough there to get a feel for the perspective of the place.

  12. April 9, 2008 11:03 pm

    Wow, that is fascinating… and terrifying. I have to say, though, that I had nurse midwives for both of my pregnancies and deliveries — and they were just wonderful, nurturing professionals from start to finish. In fact, one of them (Mary Murray) writes a great pregnancy blog (
    for Mayo Clinic. I recommend it for any expecting mom. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you that I do some writing for Mayo Clinic, but I have no connection to this blog — except that I’ve posted to it once or twice!)

  13. Kendall Rogers permalink
    July 6, 2008 2:25 pm

    This is why I can’t stand female practitioners. They tend to be very rude to their female patients. I will only see male OB/GYNs, period. Can’t stand female doctors they make me sick. They are very judgmental of other women.

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