More than once I’ve said I applied to nursing school on a whim. When I got accepted, I continued with that whim. I have a clear memory of my first year, first semester, sitting with all of my peers, and being asked by one of our instructors what area of nursing appeals to us the most. Like many of my classmates (most being female), I said maternity. “Who wouldn’t want to be a maternity nurse?” was my thought. You get to see babies every day you’re at work!
Well, almost 7 years after answering that question, I’ve got my degree and a certificate to say I’ve specialized in perinatal nursing. That’s what nursing likes to call it, “perinatal nursing.” It sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Yet, there are people out there who have no idea what “perinatal” means. I once heard of a nurse whose I.D. tag said perinatal on it, and someone thought it was her name. So, when asked what I do, I say I’m a maternity nurse, much like what I thought I would, back in that first year of school.
But what does being a maternity nurse mean? Mean to me, anyways? I’ll start by saying I love and hate my job at the same time. It is incredibly rewarding, but can also be overwhelmingly terrifying. I finished my specialty training close to two years ago (but spent a little over a year of those past two years off on maternity leave- my life revolves around maternity in some capacity or another!). While at work recently, I had the pleasure of working with a mama who was getting ready to have her baby (not her first). From the time I assessed her, to the time I encouraged her through the pushing stage and delivery of her baby, I had this crazy high of excitement. I LOVE being present at a birth-I feel honoured to be by a mamas side, to offer encouragement, to help her understand what the doctor just said if necessary, to help her figure out how to have her best birth. Maybe it’s because I’m still new to the world of labour and delivery, or maybe it’s because I really do just love labour and delivery that much, but I get so incredibly excited to be a part of it all.
As I mentioned earlier though, I also hate it. Labour and delivery comes with so many unknowns. When you come to the hospital to have your baby, most likely you’re just thinking of meeting that baby. Your nurse is thinking of how you get to meet your baby, but also is thinking of what could go wrong. I won’t get into details, but there are a myriad of things that may go wrong (more often that not, though, things go smoothly), so we’re constantly prepared for any outcome (but of course, we’re always rooting for a screaming baby at delivery!). Those unknowns are really the only part I hate.
I’ve done a fair amount of rambling, for which I apologize. So I’ll finish with this-I love being a maternity nurse. It’s an honour to meet someone and help them navigate through one of the most important moments of their life. That moment they meet their baby, both moms and dads, whether it’s their first baby or their tenth. Becoming a maternity nurse is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, even if it did all start on a whim.
Perinatal (Maternity) Nurse