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What To Expect From Your Labor, Delivery & Postpartum Nurses

Labor and delivery nurse's station
Yale New Haven Hospital labor and delivery nurses Kalee Lewis and Dominique Lobello.

Parents having their baby at Yale New Haven Health can expect to encounter many different people during their stay from OBGYNs and midwives to members of the anesthesiology team. But it’s the nurses on the labor & delivery and postpartum units who they will likely spend the most time with. They will be with the patient and their families from the moment they arrive to the moment they go home.

These nurses undergo specialized training and are required to obtain a national certification in electronic fetal monitoring as well as a neonatal resuscitation certification. Despite their unique medical training, it’s often the attention to the patient’s emotional needs that sets these caregivers apart.

What to expect on the labor & delivery unit

Labor and delivery nurse Carissa Massaro
Yale New Haven Hospital labor and delivery nurse Carissa Massaro prepares a birthing room for a patient.

Once a patient is admitted to the labor & delivery unit, they will be assigned a nurse who partners with the patient’s clinician to monitor maternal and fetal status through the labor and birth. When it comes to having a baby, most parents know to “expect the unexpected” and labor & delivery nurses do just that.

They can help with pain management, offer tips on how to progress labor and are equipped to handle medically complex cases. They will be by the patient’s side in a birthing room or operating room during a C-section. If there’s a shift change, another nurse will be assigned to the patient so there is no gap in care.

“Labor & delivery nurses are expecting parents’ biggest cheerleaders and advocates through the birth process,” said Anneliese Stahl, MSOD, BSN, C-EFM, patient services manager at Yale New Haven Hospital. “The depth of knowledge required for this specialty, the critical thinking, that’s all while being that rock for someone during the intimate and tender birth experience with a family.”

What to expect on the postpartum unit

Postpartum nurse Hannah Sturman
Yale New Haven Hospital postpartum nurse Hannah Sturman prepares a room for a patient.
After the baby is born, patients and their families will be moved to the postpartum unit where that attention to care continues. The nursing team on the postpartum unit works closely with the pediatric and OB teams and conducts frequent checks on the patient and baby 24 hours a day to ensure the recovery process is going well.

In addition, the nurses will educate parents on newborn care, help with breastfeeding and provide critical emotional support, especially if the birth process did not go as the patient envisioned.

“All of our nurses on both units are so well trained and so attuned to their patients that we can change gears quickly,” said Amy Petrucelli, MSN, RN, patient service manager at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Some of that support may come from other members of the postpartum team, such as occupational therapists to help with feeding issues, lactation consultants to help with breastfeeding or social workers who can attend to the mental health needs of the patient. The nursing staff can make recommendations for the appropriate resources depending on what the patient needs.

“It’s necessary for our nurses to be both physically and emotionally present for their patient and family,” Stahl said. “All nurses work to create a trusting bond in a short amount of time, but L&D and maternity nurses have a special knack for doing exactly that.”

Families can expect their postpartum nurse to be with them up until the very end, even ensuring the baby is strapped into their car seat correctly for the ride home.

Expecting parents interested in learning more about childbirth, breastfeeding and newborn care can attend live webinars or in-person classes through Yale New Haven Health.