10 Non-Clinical Nursing Skills for Labor and Delivery Nurses
By Jane Anderson, contributor
Labor and delivery nursing includes the routine and emergency care that is provided to a mother and her soon-to-be-born child or children. During labor and delivery, a nurse needs an extensive supply of medical knowledge and clinical skills. The working environment can swiftly change from routine birthing care to an emergency surgical procedure.
Clinical skills, however, are just one dimension of a labor and delivery nursing job. There are other attributes that will help you perform at a higher level and with more satisfaction. If you’re interested in becoming a labor and delivery nurse or just want to enhance your abilities, try adding these 10 non-clinical skills to your repertoire.
10 tips for working effectively in labor and delivery nursing
1. Teach effectively
Labor and delivery nursing requires the ability to transfer a considerable amount of knowledge. New mothers are experiencing birth, breastfeeding and caring for an infant for the first time. The job of explaining and demonstrating these procedures falls upon the nurse. Clear, detailed instructions imparted in a calm, audible voice goes a long way toward relieving a mother’s worries.
Nurses frequently have to instruct subordinates and aides, and it’s important to remember that you were new at one time too. Patience and a sense of humor with labor and delivery nursing earns more respect than a critical spirit.
2. Show assertiveness
The Journal of Clinical Nursing defines autonomy as “having the authority to make decisions and the freedom to act in accordance with one’s professional knowledge base.” Labor and delivery nursing requires fast-paced decision-making. You must be prepared to act in a way that is best for the patient while following nursing law and hospital policy. You’re often the first to notice any complications during the birth, and it’s your duty to mobilize the correct response.
3. Be a coach
Although every health care profession expects a patient to contribute to their own care nowhere is this more evident than in labor and delivery nursing. The mother will do the bulk of the work during a vaginal delivery, and you as her nurse must provide the support and direction. Some days you’ll have to use all the motivational techniques you possess to get the job done.
4. Communicate clearly
To succeed at a labor and delivery nursing job you need to be a good communicator. You should respond to doctors, coworkers and aides with dignity and civility. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology states that “effective communication is a hallmark of safe patient care.” The article also lists several ways to improve communication within the labor and delivery team. As with any organization, it is important to follow the chain of command.
You must also be approachable and available to the patient and their family members regardless of the circumstances. Keep in mind that patients may be in pain, and attending family members may be worried. They will often speak unkindly out of frustration. It’s your responsibility to defuse uncomfortable situations with a professional demeanor.
5. Encourage teamwork
In addition to communicating with coworkers, you should be able to work together. Labor and delivery nursing requires a team approach. When the birthing moment arrives you may need to direct your subordinates and follow doctor’s orders all at the same time. A good team equals quality patient care and a comfortable work environment.
6. Practice empathy
A delivery and nursing job can include moments of pure joy intermixed with periods of utmost sadness. You need to be able to adjust to each patient’s needs as you enter the room. It has been shown that a nurses’ compassionate care can affect patient outcomes.
It is also important that you learn to share and understand a patient’s feelings without taking part in those feelings. Make sure you leave your work at the hospital and don’t allow your capacity for caring to weigh you down.
7. Enhance your labor and delivery nursing career
There are always new practices, new procedures and new theories in any field of study. Labor and delivery nurses ought to continuously update their medical knowledge and skills. Continuing education helps you stay current in your field. Sign up for any workplace development classes your organization may offer.
8. Manage stress
Stress affects all nurses, and to avoid burnout, you need to embrace stress-management techniques. Take advantage of any perks your hospital has, such as relaxation rooms and counseling. Your mental and physical health is important too, so place a priority on healthy eating and exercise.
9. Maintain a calm disposition
Labor and delivery nursing jobs require a complex balancing act. You must satisfy patients, follow doctor’s orders and heed your nursing best practices all while working at a frantic pace. The ability to perform all of these while appearing calm and confident is a trait worth building.
10. Prepare in advance
If you plan your day wisely, you won’t waste adrenalin on inconsequential items. A pre-packed lunch and ready supply of clean scrubs goes a long way to starting your day off on the right foot. Once you get to work, keep your duty station tidy and stay current on chart work. Labor and delivery nursing requires the staff to be efficient and organized.
These 10 actions can turn a merely competent nurse into an excellent one. Take pride in your labor and delivery nursing career, and you’ll notice an improvement in patient satisfaction and coworker relationships. These same traits will also enhance every area of your non-working life.