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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Delivering care, guidance and babies

Registered nurse in the Obstetrics department of St. Francis Hospital & Health Services, Christine Moore, checks the vitals of newborn baby Aiden Dennis on Monday.

Delivering care, guidance and babies
By Megan Tilk
Maryville Daily Forum

For first-time parents, having a baby can be an overwhelming experience. Questions, concerns and emotions take over and the long, nine-month journey can quickly seem like not enough time to have prepared, that's where Obstetrical nurses come in.

The mother of twins, Christine Moore is no stranger to caring for babies and does it on a daily basis as a registered nurse in the OB wing of St. Francis Hospital & Health Services.

Averaging 30 deliveries per month, OB nurses not only care for the newborn following delivery but provide complete care for mother and baby prior and following the birth.

"We're not just a nurse but a coach and a teacher too," Moore said. "We're kind of like the patient advocate for the mom and baby."

A direct line of contact, OB nurses often act as an extra set eyes and ears for the doctor .

Moore meets with expecting mothers nearly 16 weeks before the delivery to make a plan and address any concerns.

From that point on, the OB nurses and doctors continuously monitor the mother and baby for signs of stress or health concerns. Patient education also begins at that point.

Providing more than just medical attention, OB nurses spend countless hours educating new and expecting mothers and family members on the basics of what to expect during delivery and caring for a newborn following the birth.

At St. Francis, a majority of the nurses in OB work 12-hour shifts. Arriving at 7 a.m., Moore greets her patients and preps for any scheduled deliveries, which take place in the morning.

"A lot of it is on-the-job training," she said. "Moms who have been through delivery before can really teach you about what works and what doesn't."

Following all her prep work with the expecting patient and required paperwork, Moore and her patient move to the operating room for delivery.

Remaining with the mother through the entire delivery, Moore and OB nurses alike, care for the newborn and check for any medical needs directly following the birth.

Once the mom returns from the operating room, she also returns to Moore's care.

From then on out, Moore says it's a lot of running around.

Diaper changes, bottles, food for mom and necessary medications — along with routine checks of vital signs every 15 to 30 minutes — have OB nurses on the go for several hours.

On slow days, an OB nurse may get moved to a different department to help out.

"You have to be flexible," Moore said. "You never know what your day will be like."

Though generally all smiles and excitement, the life of an OB nurse comes with its share of sadness.

Stillbirths, birth defects and loss of life are all a possibility that the nurses have to be prepared to deal with.
"We often joke at really inopportune moments," Moore said. "It's not because we don't care. It's actually the opposite. That's our way of building a wall and distancing ourselves so we can remain calm and be strong for the family."

Regardless of heartbreak and the stresses of caring for sometimes up to three mother-offspring pairs at a time, one emotion remains with Moore constantly, a smile.

"I knew I wanted to work with babies when I was really young," Moore said. "When I was 16, I injured my knee and that's what I knew I was either going to be a nurse or a physical therapist and here I am and I love it."

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