Prairie Wife of the Week Shannon: (Postpartum Nurse)
Posted August 29, 2014 by Prairie Wife - 4 comments
I first met this week’s Prairie Wife of the Week while I attended the University of Wyoming, when she began to date one of The Cowboy’s close friends. Over the years we’ve moved to different states and mostly stay connected through Facebook and yearly get-togethers. When chatting with my OB a few weeks ago (at CowBaby 5’s check up) we talked about my hopes for my birth experience. I’ll get into that in a future post but, it really got me thinking. I’ve interviewed a Prairie Wife that has given birth at home, as well as an OB in her last year of residency…but never a nurse on the mother/baby floor. When I reflected on my personal birth experiences my OB obviously played a large part in it, but it’s the nurses that come up the most in my memories.
I will never forget the nurse who first showed me the wonders of a diaper filled with ice (trust me on this), the sweet nurse that brought me an infinite number of warmed blankets when I was struggling with blood loss, and the aftercare nurse who was so interested in what we finally named Cowboy C that we were her first stop when she came back on shift! Shannon and her husband were the first friends to come to the house to meet Cowboy J (and to babysit) and the picture of her husband holding him as she stands by, is still one of my favorites. As we’ve both grown as women, wives and mothers I’ve reached a whole new level of respect for her and what she does. As a working mother she focuses hard on finding the right balance for her family, and as a nurse her vast knowledge and passion for what she does makes me envy all the women who have been in her care. Shannon is a woman of grit and grace, who strives to leave the world a little better each day, because of these qualities she is a true Prairie Wife!
Prairie Wife (PW): First tell us a little bit about your family.
Shannon (S): I’ve been married to a handsome firefighter for 9 years and we have two beautiful children, ages 7 and almost 3! I’ve worked as a nurse for 11 years and have enjoyed every moment of it.
PW: What led you into the nursing field?
S: My mother is a physical therapist whom in my childhood worked with special needs kids and taught childbirth classes in the evenings. I was always curious about what she did, so she would often take me to work with her. I saw firsthand how my mother impacted those children’s lives and brightened their days. In the evenings I became her faithful “assistant” during her childbirth classes. It was those experiences that shaped my passion for nursing.
PW: You currently work on the Postpartum/Antepartum floor of a large hospital in Colorado, have you always wanted to work with new moms and babies?
S: When I first graduated from nursing school, I thought I wanted to go into Emergency medicine. I sought out job opportunities but ultimately got a job on a cardiac unit. Within two years, I realized that wasn’t really my passion. I loved the people I cared for but there was something missing. It was then that I started toying with the idea of the mother/baby floor. As luck would have it, a little while later a job on the postpartum unit opened up and the rest is history!
PW: What are your favorite parts of your job?
S: Being a part of something greater than myself! The birth of a child is so beautiful, I feel blessed to be a part of it. Truthfully, I love connecting with my patients. There is something so satisfying in knowing you made a difference in someone’s life. I set out each day to find what it is that I can do to make someone’s day a little brighter. It could be help with breastfeeding, a shoulder to cry on, or helping a dad change a diaper for the first time. To me, they are all special moments.
PW: Now that you are a mother yourself, has it impacted how you do your job?
S: Absolutely! Now that I’ve experienced childbirth and the trials and tribulations of raising a child, it brings a whole new dimension of understanding and compassion to my work.
PW: Lately more and more women are looking into home birth, and hospital births have seemed to develop a “bad rap”. Why do you think that is?
S: I think there is a perception out there that the hospital decides how a mother’s birth experience is going to go; that her wishes and desires are not taken into consideration. There is this sense that the hospital conducts needless procedures and tests, causing undue stress on a family and/or newborn. So often, people don’t understand the “why” of what we are doing. Patient safety is our first and foremost concern. Our ultimate goal is a healthy mother and healthy baby in every delivery while striving for patient satisfaction. We (nurses) pursued this career path out of care and compassion for others. It gives us no greater satisfaction than to make someone happy. We truly don’t want to interfere with a mother’s desires or beliefs, and will do everything possible to support them, without compromising the mother or baby’s safety.
PW: What are some myths about hospital births that you really hate to hear, and can you share the truths with us too?
S: The most frustrating misconception is that mother’s who give birth in a hospital will end up with a c-section. Hospitals monitor their c-section rates and strive to minimize them as much as possible. The only reason a person would require a c-section is if it is medically indicated to keep their baby or themselves safe.
PW: As a Postpartum nurse what advice do you have for new moms?
S: Savor the moments of those first hours and days with your baby. Enjoy your time with your new baby and support person, and take time to adapt to this new dynamic. Excited friends and family members can wait to see you
Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding is not easy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Nurses like being helpful! If you are struggling don’t feel bad asking for support, enlist the help of your postpartum nurses (a lot have taken additional training in lactation) or seek out a lactation consultant within the hospital.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself too! Often new mothers are so focused on caring for their new babies and their families, that they often forget to meet their own needs! Sleep when the baby sleeps, take time to eat, shower and enjoy this journey through motherhood.
PW: I know that you work closely with the labor and delivery floor. From your experiences, is there anything that women can do that can help them to have the birth experience they want?
S: First, make sure that you and your obstetrician are on the same page. Be open and honest about what you want and any concerns and fears you may have. If you don’t feel comfortable with any of the answers (no matter where you are in your pregnancy) find another obstetrician! You need to trust your instincts. During labor and delivery it helps so much to be confident that those around you know what you want and are supporting you. This means your support person as well (husband, partner, friend, or family member). Before you go in to have the baby, make your needs and wants clear. Take time to talk about “worst case scenarios” and your wishes should you be unable to express your needs when the time comes.
I highly recommend doing your research when picking your hospital (if you have a choice). Find out what your local hospitals have to offer. Decide upon your birthing preferences and find out what your hospitals can do to support those preferences. I strongly encourage everyone to take a birthing class not just for knowledge about the labor and delivery process, but also to get a tour of the local hospital and an introduction to their practices. Just walking through the units and interacting with staff can give you a feel for what the facility is like. What are their lactation services like? Do they have a lactation program that can follow patients after they go home? Many hospitals around the country are working to achieve a Baby Friendly Hospital designation which focuses on supporting the 10 steps for successful breastfeeding and promoting mother/infant bonding through skin to skin time, etc.
PW: What would you like to see happen with postpartum care in the next five years?
S: I would love to see expanded outpatient support throughout our communities. Breastfeeding support groups, outpatient lactation programs, car seat safety and increased support within the county/state agencies to help those that need extra resources to care for their children. I want to see every patient and family succeed in raising their children!
PW: What are some signs of postpartum depression and what should we do if we recognize it in ourselves or a friend?
S: Postpartum depression generally is diagnosed within the first two weeks after birth but can occur any time within the first year. Signs to watch for are: overwhelming feelings of sadness, mood swings, loss of appetite, disinterest in caring for the baby, withdrawn from family and friends, inability to concentrate, insomnia, overwhelming fatigue, overwhelming feelings of anxiety, thoughts of harming yourself or the baby, feelings of guilt or inadequacy.
It is important to seek help immediately if you recognize any of these signs or symptoms in a loved one or in yourself. Don’t be ashamed, being a mom can be hard, and asking for help is the first step to making things easier. Call your obstetrician or family physician and get evaluated as soon as possible. They can prescribe the right treatment for you and make recommendations for further follow up.
S: As a working mom in a high stress job with young children how do you keep your balance?
PW: It is not always an easy task but I make it a priority each and every day to work on maintaining the balance. Thankfully, my husband and I are a strong team, and we work to keep the balance by checking in constantly to see how each other is doing. We both seem to know instinctively when the other needs a break.
On my days off we go biking, swimming, to the park or just play games at home. During our bedtime routine, we take time to talk to our children, see how their day was, etc. I ask our 7 year old what she liked about her day at school and what was challenging. Then we read to each child individually and sing songs. I want our children to know how important they are. I make a point to not compromise anything because of our busy schedules. I also focus on leaving work at work and home at home so that each feel I’m giving them undivided attention.
PW: Any last Prairie Wife words of wisdom?
S: Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. –Maya Angelou
Categories: Prairie Wife of the Week