Pregnancy and you blog

Pregnancy care: Are students welcome?

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. July 10, 2013

My husband has had serious health issues for more than 20 years, including a heart transplant four years ago. He enjoys having learners involved with his care. He gets to tell his stories twice and reuse the jokes his attending physicians have already heard.

I'm enthusiastic about learners, too.

When I was in labor with my second child, a group of student nurses were on hand. I knew the nursing instructor and when she asked if her students could watch the birth, I consented without a second thought. There were at least six students standing at the door of the small birthing room. I didn't notice them because I was pretty involved in pushing the baby out. Later the instructor told me that several of the students told her they'd never realized what a miracle birth really was. I'm glad that I could contribute to their sense of wonder.

Still, not everyone is comfortable with learners being part of their pregnancy and birth. Even the words we use to describe learners — greenhorn, novice, beginner — don't inspire confidence.

Find out if your obstetrical provider has students or residents as part of his or her practice.

If you're not comfortable with learners participating in your pregnancy care, address those concerns with your obstetrical provider. Keep in mind that some institutions require the inclusion of learners, while others might let you exclude learners if that's your choice.

It might reassure you to know how much supervision will be provided for the students or residents. Be encouraged that learners don't fly solo.

You might also talk with the learners themselves about their experiences and their comfort level with labor and birth. Be honest about any concerns you might have with their involvement in your care.

Remember, we all have to learn to do what we do. I thank all of the women I cared for during my time as a student. I wouldn't be the midwife I am today if it weren't for them.

July 10, 2013