Labor and birth can be scary and it’s important to have someone to calm everyone down, which is why obstetrical nurses (OBs) are the unsung heroes of so many families.
With years of experience under their belt, Sasha Osment, RN in labor and delivery for 28 years at St. Bernards Healthcare, and Erin Weeks, nurse educator and RN in labor and delivery for 10 years at NEA Baptist Hospital, share their stories about life at OB.
According to the Registered Nurses website, an OB nurse is a registered nurse who helps care for patients during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Osment said she knew in nursing school that she wanted to be a midwifery nurse.
“I’ve always lived in Jonesboro,” Osment said, “and I’ve always loved the idea of helping people have their babies. ‘Arkansas with my RN, I knew I wanted to work here in St. Bernards.
Osment started her dream job at OB in St. Bernards in March 1994, when she was just 21 years old.
Osment is the only one in her family who is a nurse, except for her youngest daughter who is in nursing school, and she said she loves it.
Weeks, who was an OB nurse for 10 years at NEA Baptist, also emphasized the important role of being an OB nurse and bringing new life to the world, as well as the profession of constant labor and delivery. evolution.
Like Osment, Weeks started OB right out of nursing school with a BSN from Arkansas State University in 2012, but she didn’t always want to be a nurse.
In fact, nursing was her second career. Weeks previously earned a degree in corporate finance from the University of Central Arkansas, a career she worked in for several years.
She said she had always worked in customer service, so nursing seemed like a perfect fit for her.
“I didn’t even know what kind of nurse I wanted to be,” she admitted. “But then I had Debra Walden (retired A-State nursing professor) as my instructor. She was amazing and captivating. After watching her and learning from her, I realized that was what I wanted to do.
Osment worked as a nurse at Paragould for the first seven or eight months of her career while waiting to go up to St. Bernards.
“It was tough getting into OB,” she said, “but I knew I wanted to be an OB nurse at St. Bernards.”
In fact, she was also born in St. Bernard, she laughed, noting that she and her husband, Scott Osment, have been married for 20 years and their six children were born there, as well as four of their five grandchildren. . She said it just seemed fitting to be able to help others through her work at St. Bernards as well.
Weeks admits that getting the chance to start in OB at NEA Baptist was amazing because she, too, said it was hard to get into OB right out of nursing school.
“It’s led to some wonderful opportunities,” she said, noting that she can also take OB unit training to help train nurses.
With most rooms remaining full, Osment said they were born on average around six babies a day in St. Bernard and 120 to 160 babies a month, so it’s unclear how many babies she helped deliver, but it would be close to 40,000.
“I think the maximum was 172 babies in a month,” she laughed, noting that she helped deliver so many babies that people would stop her in the store and thank her for everything she did for them and how much they appreciated it.
Osment laughed as she said there’s no such thing as delivering babies she’s delivered before.
Weeks said she has helped deliver thousands of babies over the years, but the main reason she loves being an obstetrics nurse is the unique family experience she can enjoy being herself. same mother.
“No matter how many times you see a baby born, it’s still amazing every time. Plus, we’re helping mothers through a crucial time in their lives and helping educate them,” she smiles proudly. .
Osment said things have changed a lot over the years.
“When I started, we didn’t have computers and everything was done on paper with clipboards,” she said, noting that there wasn’t much help when they went to the computer, so they must have found a lot of stuff.
“And it’s constantly changing, it’s all on computer now,” she said, “and there’s so many more graphics that have been added.”
“Although the actual delivery part is still pretty much the same,” Osment said. “Even back then, we were monitoring patients so much, but now we have alerts popping up all over computer screens.”
Weeks agreed that midwifery is an ever-evolving field.
“It’s changed so much in the last 10 years I’ve been here,” Weeks said, noting there are a lot more safety rules and procedures such as quantifying blood loss, which is an objective measurement. recommended for the early identification of haemorrhages in all births and continuous monitoring of blood pressure.
Osment said labor and delivery was on the fifth floor at St. Bernards the entire time she worked there, noting some of the phases the department went through, including the “at home” phase with carpets. , quilts and wardrobes.
“Everything was a dusty mauve and blue,” she laughs, “It was such a pain. We had to fold the duvets after the families saw them and then put them away in the cupboards. And don’t even get me started on carpets… Can you imagine what it was like to constantly have to clean those carpets?
She said they are now with the patients through the process.
Osment said they used to have different positions in OB, such as nursery nurses to help care for babies and nuns to rock babies.
“Now the babies stay with their mothers, and the nurses do that job as well,” she said. “We don’t even need a surgery team anymore, because we do that too.”
Weeks said she loves that all NEA Baptist maternity homes are now also labour, delivery, recovery and postpartum (LDRP) units, meaning they are all maternity homes designed for family-centered care in which women in labor and their families complete normal childbearing experiences in a comfortable room and the baby stays in the room with its mother.
Osment said she still prefers OB because it’s natural, pointing out that even blood is a natural part of childbirth.
“There’s something special about being able to help mothers breathe and push,” she said. “The excitement of having this new little baby is sweet and very precious.”
“Everyone has a story and being part of that story is pretty cool,” Osment bragged. “He never gets old and every birth is different, so it definitely keeps you on your toes.”
“I’ve seen doctors come and go and retire,” Osment said, noting doctors have had to adapt a lot too, from protocols to procedures.
“It’s constantly changing,” she repeated. “but it’s always worth it and to be able to help someone have an amazing experience. We want them to have a good birth and we are advocates for our patients.
She shared some of her most stressful times in OB over the years, such as throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the events of 9/11, and how important it was to keep patients calm what let it happen.
With COVID, she said they had to help Facetime people due to visiting restrictions.
“During 9/11 it was crazy but we had to stay focused, smile and try to keep the mothers happy and calm,” Osment said.
Weeks has also seen its share of stress in the OB after working through the pandemic, but feels like things are finally getting back to some kind of normality.
“After COVID, it’s been a long few years,” Weeks sighed. “But I’m hopeful that things will finally return to normality. The healthcare profession has been through a lot as a whole.
“You just have to stay calm and be able to react quickly no matter what,” she added.
“Being an OB nurse is something you never forget,” Weeks said. “I can help families, in addition to working with amazing nurses who are extremely skilled like Debbie McDaniel, and a great group of doctors.”
Osment said the most important part of the job is not letting anything else overshadow the important family day.
“You learn to put up a facade and not let parents see you stressing out,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in your own head about something going on in the world or if you’re just stressing about something in your own life. It’s your job to calm the parents down and stop them from get overwhelmed.