The Things You Do Make A Difference

Traciby, Traci Turchin

“But we had this for dinner LAST night” the five year old says.  My joke with the nine year old falls flat because he’s too busy sighing over his lack of clean socks.  “That’s IT!” I tell my husband with a wink, “I’m running away from home and going to work where I’m appreciated!”

I’m one of the luckiest nursing students in the world.  By day I drown in books and deadlines and elementary school paperwork and laundry, but by night I work as a CNA at the birth center of my local hospital.  I know, while the little efforts at home might go unnoticed, no small kindness is missed by our patients. 

We tuck those small kindnesses into our hearts and carry them around, forever grateful. Continue reading

Top Ten Misconceptions About the Use of Nitrous Oxide in Labor

by Michelle Collins, PhD, CNM, FACNM

The use of nitrous oxide as a labor analgesic has taken hold in the US in the past three years. It has been used widely in Europe for decades, with favorable results, along with comes educational information but all the perpetuation of myths.

10. Using nitrous oxide in labor is “just like” when you use it at the dental office. It’s not. In dental offices, the concentration of nitrous oxide to oxygen is variable, so the dentist can increase or decrease the concentration based on the patient’s needs. Dentists may use concentrations of nitrous oxide of up to 70%. The dentist also places a small mask over the patient’s nose, through which a continuous stream of nitrous oxide is delivered.

During labor nitrous oxide is only used at concentrations of 50% nitrous oxide to oxygen – no higher. And the stream of nitrous oxide is intermittently administered by the woman herself using either a mouthpiece or mask with a demand valve. The demand valve opens only when the woman inhales (breathes in) – which is when the gas is released. When the woman exhales (breathes out), the valve closes and the gas stream is stopped.10 Misconceptions about Nitrous Oxide in Labor

9. You will be confined to bed while using nitrous oxide. You will still be able to move around while using nitrous oxide during labor. About 10% of nitrous users may experience some dizziness, so your care providers will want to see you stand or move about without difficulty before they let you up on your own, but many women use nitrous oxide while standing, squatting, sitting in a rocking chair, or on a birth ball.

8. Continuous fetal monitoring will be required with nitrous oxide use. Whether you have continuous or intermittent fetal monitoring should be dictated by your obstetrical status, not because you are using nitrous oxide. In other words, if you are a candidate for intermittent monitoring, that does not have to change to continuous monitoring just because you begin using nitrous oxide.

7. If you choose to use nitrous oxide, you cannot use any other pain medications. A fair number of women who start out using nitrous go on to have an epidural placed at some later point in their labor. Using nitrous oxide earlier on allows you to maintain your mobility and stay upright, allowing the baby to move down well in your pelvis before being confined to bed with epidural anesthesia.

6. Nitrous oxide will stall your labor, or slow contractions. There has not been any research showing that nitrous slows down labor or causes contractions to be less strong or happen less often.

5. Nitrous oxide will harm the baby. Nitrous oxide is metabolized (processed) in your lung tissue, but because some of the gas passes into your blood stream, some can also pass through the placenta and go to your baby. However, studies have not shown adverse effects on babies of mothers who have used nitrous oxide in labor.

4. There is a point in labor when it is too late to use nitrous oxide. Actually, some women don’t begin using nitrous oxide until they are in the pushing stage. Other women don’t use it at all during labor, but find it very helpful if they need repair of any tears in their birth canal.

3. My family members can assist me with holding the nitrous oxide mask or mouthpiece if I get tired of holding it. As well-meaning as family members are, this is one area where they can’t help. A safety precaution for nitrous oxide use is that the laboring woman holds her own mask or mouthpiece. When she has had sufficient nitrous oxide, she won’t be able to bring her hand holding the device to her face. Allowing someone else to hold the mask/mouthpiece overrides this safety feature of nitrous oxide.

2. Nitrous oxide is offered at many hospitals and birth centers. Until 2011, there was really only one hospital in the US offering this option. Since that time, use of nitrous oxide has dramatically increased and there are currently over 100 hospitals and 50 birth centers offering nitrous oxide. Though it has come a long way, there is a long way to go to ensure that every woman who desires to use nitrous oxide in childbirth, has the opportunity.

1. Nitrous oxide makes you laugh (hence the nickname “laughing gas”). Despite the nickname, inhaling nitrous oxide doesn’t leave women laughing like hyenas! Because nitrous oxide decreases anxiety, it puts women more at ease and they may be more talkative and relaxed… but don’t count on side splitting laughter!

Michelle CollinsMichelle Collins is currently Professor of Nursing and Director of the Nurse-Midwifery education program at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. In addition to the teaching and administrative aspects of her job, she maintains an active clinical practice as part of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing faculty nurse-midwifery practice.  Currently she is a blogger for Nashville Public Television for the popular series Call the Midwife.


Resource on Nitrous Oxide For Nurses

AWHONN has a Nurses Leading Implementation of Nitrous Oxide Use in Obstetrics webinar to describe the history of nitrous oxide use to present day and the necessary steps nurses need to take to initiate nitrous services at their institutions.

Nitrous Oxide as Labor Analgesia, Nursing for Women’s Health, Volume 16, Issue 5, pages 398–409, October / November 2012.

Our Nurse Changed Our Lives

Jessica_Familyby, Jessica Grenon

When I think back to the birth of my second child earlier this year, tears almost instantly begin to fill my eyes.

Unlike the birth of my first child three years prior, this isn’t because I am overjoyed by thoughts of holding my baby against my chest for the first time while I stare in awe at the life my husband and I created, a life that I grew in my own body and delivered into the world after many, many hours of hard labor. Instead my eyes fill with tears because I think of my labor and delivery nurse and how I believe her actions on that day affected the trajectory of my life, my son’s life, and the future of our family.

I am not a nurse, I don’t even work in the medical industry, but for the past nine years come June my work has brought me to the annual AWHONN convention, where I support the online system used by those submitting proposals and assist presenters’ presentations. Through this work I have read hundreds of abstracts and watched dozens of presentations on standard topics such as home births and skin to skin care for newborns, to more memorable subject matters like how to care for a vaginal piercing during a delivery.

My work with AWHONN does by no means make me an expert in the field of labor and delivery, but on January 30th of this year, I had gained enough knowledge from working with AWHONN to know what the possible outcomes could be when something suddenly went wrong during the birth of my son.

After 13 hours of laboring in the hospital, the time had finally come to begin pushing. Not yet knowing the gender of my child, I felt extra encouragement to push as hard so I could finally meet my baby. It took only 21 minutes of pushing to hear the words, “only one more push, Jessica, and you will be able to hold your baby!”, however, that was quickly followed by a sudden shout to stop pushing.

Stop pushing, but why? I looked down and between my legs I could see the head of my baby, turned toward my inner right thigh; he was silent and lifeless. Right away I knew that it was shoulder dystocia, and like any mother, my mind went to straight to thinking about the worst case scenarios. Was my baby getting oxygen, would he have brain damage? Is his shoulder going to be broken? I don’t care if he has broken bones, bones heal, just make sure he can breathe! Just last June at AWHONN a presenter and I had a conversation about shoulder dystocia, what was it that she said the other outcomes could be?

The next few minutes were all a blur me screaming at the doctor to help my baby, my husband kissing my head and doing the best he could to stay strong for the two of us, the student midwife attending her first delivery still holding onto my left leg waiting for someone to give her instructions and then there was a voice that I will never forget. Then the firm voice of my labor and delivery nurse as she turned to the doctor and said, “Doctor. Would you like me to call for another set of hands?” I got the sense that she wasn’t asking for permission, but rather she was politely informing the doctor of her intent to ask for assistance because she knew it was needed.

The doctor nodded as my nurse instantly took one side step closer to my head, she looked me straight in the eyes and smiled as she pushed the call button for the nurse’s station and requested another attending physician join us in my delivery room. A moment later the door swung open and the already crowded room began to fill with more people. In an instant, my nurse and another doctor were in the delivery bed with me, pushing on my low abdomen , doing all they could to change the position of my baby.

In this chaotic scene I once again heard that firm voice calmly say, “Doctor. Would you like me to call in a NICU team?”. The doctor nodded yes and soon a NICU team stormed into the room to wait for my son to be born to take over his care.

At the end of this ordeal, I was blessed with a perfectly healthy child; not one bruise on his body, no torn muscles, no broken bones, and no lack of oxygen to his brain. He did stay in the NICU for two days to be supervised for a potential infection, but otherwise all 10lbs, 5ozs of him was unscathed during his traumatic birth .

It may have been my doctor’s hands that brought my son into the world, but it was my nurse’s voice that I credit for my son’s health and our future without the need for further medical treatment.

Would my son have been fine if he were stuck during the birthing process for another couple of minutes? I don’t know. Fortunately because my labor and delivery nurse spoke up during a time of crisis, I don’t have to find out.

JessicaJessica L. Grenon is the Director of Continuing Education Services at The Conference Exchange, where she has worked with AWHONN since 2007. She, her husband, and their two young children enjoy traveling and spending time with their extended family, especially with her twelve nieces and nephews.

 


Resources on Shoulder Dystocia

Definition: Shoulder Dystocia is the impaction of the fetal anterior or posterior shoulder behind the material pubic symphysis resulting in delay in a cephalic vaginal delivery. This creates a high-risk intrapartum complication affecting both mother and baby.

For Parents: Health providers can’t always predict or prevent shoulder dystocia, but there are some risk factors you can learn about.

For Nurses: AWHONN has a Shoulder Dystocia online product to help prepare clinicians for this level of critical care event.