May 6th through 12th is National Nurses Week in the USA. As birth doulas know and research shows, nurses can make or break a client experience during their client’s labor and birth. While doulas and nurses have clear and distinct roles when there is a collaboration between them, everyone, especially the family benefits.

Nurses are a critical part of a family’s hospital experience. Nurses work very hard to balance all of their clinical and recording responsibilities with patient support during labor, birth and postpartum. We have witnessed how nurses keep all the balls in the air with the goal of keeping patients safe, comfortable and satisfied, all the while keeping the doctor or midwife informed of changes between the provider visits.

During National Nurses Week, DONA International wants to recognize the key role that labor, delivery, postpartum and NICU nurses play during such a porous and vulnerable time as birth. Nurses are seen and appreciated every day by the doulas who work with clients birthing in the hospital. Today, doulas from around the world share their thoughts and/or light-hearted stories about working with nurses. We really are better together!

Monica Elliot, CD(DONA), CLC, BA

Antipolo, Philippines

Every year, dozens of nurse interns serve here at Shalom. These soon to be graduates come here for a short time before they commit to full-time positions in the nursing field. They give 100% of themselves and practice their skills in a culture they are not familiar with. Working side by side, I’ve come to understand these bright young people could be doing a number of things besides giving their time away. Instead, they choose to love and give to the women of the Philippines. I’m so proud to be a part of their experience here and they have enriched our lives.

Holly McNicol, CD(DONA), PCD(DONA), LCCE

South Surrey, BC, Canada

A client was not pushing for birth. The nurse asked, “Why are you not pushing?” The client said she was scared she would damage herself and she would not be “the same” for sex anymore. The nurse said, “I have had five babies and no one has complained.” Everyone laughed and the mom was happy to birth her baby with confidence!

Denise Bolds, MSW, CD(DONA)

New York, NY, USA

My son would be the only baby I carry to full term. I was 26 years old, pregnant and I was having preterm labor. Due to a failed marriage, I went into the hospital that night alone. There was a Black nurse. Martine Jean Baptiste. She calmed me and my preterm contractions down, explained everything to me and stayed with me all night. The medication they gave me made me sick. Martine was the nurse who helped me stay away from a premature birth. Martine would go on and become one of the top midwives in NYC. She and I reconnected over 20 years later at a workshop; she was an established midwife and I had just entered birth work with a grown son and an MSW degree. We have remained connected ever since. Martine Jean Baptiste and I attended and graduated from Cathedral High School in NYC. Two Black girls would grow up and travel full circle and now work side by side in birth work, one a midwife, the other a doula. What a journey!

Teri Nava-Anderson, PhD, CD/PCD(DONA)

Mountain House, CA, USA

My deepest gratitude to Amber, a nurse who has always honored and advocated for my clients’ preferences, who stays in the room to support her patients physically and emotionally, who practices trauma-informed care in a masterful way, and who has taken doula training in order to bring more of what we do to her floor. I truly appreciate you and everything that you do.

Vanessa Lovejoy-Guron, LCCE, CD(DONA)

Seattle, WA, USA

My client was in active labor when we got to the hospital & her contractions were getting good & intense. But there were some issues with a certain family member in the birthing room & client was asking for silence so she could concentrate. Holly, our nurse, was there to help clear the room so the client could get her rhythm back in action. Holly opted to intermittently monitor with a doppler so the client could stay as active & upright as she needed. She helped me talk the client into certain laboring positions. Holly & I made such a good team! When my client didn’t want me to leave to use the restroom, Holly helped by easing client’s anxiety & assured her that I would be back, that nurses & doulas need small breaks, too. This client’s birth is still in my top three favorite hospital births list! I love the feeling after a birth when the nurse & I hug before I leave because we appreciated each other so much.

What are you doing to show your appreciation for the nurses in your community?  Are there any stories that you would like to share about when a nurse really made a difference for you and/or clients. Please share in the comments below.  Happy Nurses Week!