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What if I don’t like my labor and delivery nurse? Do I just have to deal with them?

Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood

Heck, no. If a nurse makes you feel uncomfortable, you get to “bye, Felicia” them. As the nurses assigned to you are the primary care providers you’ll have during birth (doctors usually just show up to help deliver the baby), you want them to make you feel safe and heard. If you cringe every time a certain nurse comes into the room, that’s a clear sign you need to request a different one. Many women don’t realize it’s even an option to ask for a different nurse, but it definitely is, and you won’t be the first person to utilize this right.

The thing is, not every nurse is a great fit for every mother. It’s not personal — it just means their vibe doesn’t jive with your vibe. If you’re wanting an unmedicated birth, for example, and you see the nurse roll their eyes when reading your birth plan, it’s clear their presence is not going to fill you with confidence or empowerment. And you deserve to feel confident and empowered. You deserve nurses who enhance your experience.

What to do

If a nurse makes you uncomfortable, think about what type of personality you would prefer. For example, do you want someone supportive of un- medicated births? Someone with a gentler energy? Someone who is direct and open with information? Someone with a good sense of humor?

Once you’ve determined what type of nurse you do want, ask your birth companion or doula to go to the nurses’ station and request to speak with the charge nurse, as they have the power to assign a new nurse. Your birth companion doesn’t have to go into detail about why you want a nurse reassigned, they can simply say something along the lines of, “My partner and I don’t feel that [insert nurse’s name here] is a good fit for us. We would prefer someone who is more [insert the traits you would like your new nurse to have].”

There’s no guarantee you’ll get the exact type of nurse you want, but chances are they’ll be a better fit than the last nurse, especially because they know you’re willing to advocate for yourself and are paying attention to how you’re treated.

While some women feel that requesting a different nurse is being dramatic, I think it’s one of the most empowered decisions you can make during birth. The people in your birthing space have a profound impact on how your birth unfolds, and you deserve to have the final say over who is and isn’t welcome. This is just another day of work for them, but it’s a monumental experience for you. You get to be as picky as you want. In addition, I wouldn’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings — you’re not in the hospital to make friends, you’re there to have the happiest and healthiest birth experience you can.

Come prepared: Another option is to ask your care provider if they know of any nurses at the hospital where you’ll be delivering who they think would be a good fit for you. You can then ask for them by name when you check in. If those nurses aren’t available, ask if there’s a nurse who shares your general birth philosophy. For example, if you’re hoping to have an unmedicated birth, request a nurse who has had an unmedicated birth or is skilled at supporting them.

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