Pregnancy can be a magical yet challenging time, especially when the time for the baby to be born comes around! That’s where labor and delivery nurses come in to help the mother through her delivery safely. Join Dr. Richard Marn as he sits down for a conversation with Labor and Delivery Nurse Shaina Brickner. They talk about the challenges faced by nurses and parents during labor and delivery, as well as Shaina’s memories of bonding with parents. They also talk about what you need to learn as a labor nurse and what qualities are important in a nurse in this profession.
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A Labor Of Love: Talking Pregnancy And Delivery Nursing With Shaina Brickner
Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. If you ask parents like myself, what’s 1 or 2 or a few of the most memorable moments in their life? Often, they will probably describe the moment when their child or children were born, which is understandable. In this episode, we’re going to talk with someone who’s there during those moments for the child and the parents. We’re going to talk with a labor and delivery nurse, otherwise known as an L&D nurse.
We’re going to talk with Shaina Brickner. She’s an L&D nurse in Southern California. Not only will she talk about those awesome moments that she’s there for, but most understand why she chose this profession and why it’s impactful for her in how she’s helping patients. Not only that, she was doing some awesome stuff outside of work. She has a great Instagram account. She has a consultation service. She has a podcast where she’s helping educate parents about the birthing process, but also what to expect after the birthing process, which a lot of parents need help with, quite frankly.
If you like this episode or feel you’re interested in careers about the birthing process and pregnant moms, check out some other episodes that can be insightful and maybe educational too. Episode 32, I’m talking with Ms. Kimm Sun. She’s a midwife. Episode 36, Stephanie Heintzeler, who is a doula, and Episode 40 of my show with my friend, Anna Barbieri. She’s an OB-GYN. Check those out as well if you’re interested in any of these types of careers around the birthing process. It can be eye-opening and insightful. If you like what I’m doing here, you like this episode and other episodes, I would love your support. I’d love it if you could give me a five-star rating on any podcast that you’re tuning in to, and leave a comment if it deserves it. A positive comment is preferable if you can do that, fantastic. Hope I can earn that from you guys. Without further ado, let’s jump into this episode.
I am with Shaina Brickner. How are you Shaina?
I’m good. How are you?
Thanks for joining me.
It’s my pleasure.
Shaina, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am Shaina Brickner from Los Angeles, California. I am a labor and delivery nurse. I graduated from a private Christian university called Biola in Los Angeles. I took a little break, but I got my first job in 2014. I worked full-time for two years at a hospital in Hollywood and then per diem for now going on almost five years at another hospital in Santa Monica. L&D the whole time.
L&D even out of nursing school?
Right into L&D.
No, I couldn’t do it.
Let’s go through some quick questions, so people get an overview of what you’re doing as an L&D nurse. As an L&D nurse, what do you do clinically exactly to help people?
We are managing the pregnant laboring patient, anywhere from the antepartum stage.
What’s antepartum to people that don’t understand the terms?
Someone coming into the labor and delivery unit who’s not necessarily in labor yet but has some issues going on in their pregnancy and they need to be monitored closely in the hospital. From the antepartum patient to the postpartum patient, which is after they’ve delivered the baby. I’m specifically in labor and delivery, where we are helping a woman manage her pain through labor, assessing her labor progress, monitoring vital signs, and the baby’s heart rate on the fetal monitor strip. Helping her push, deliver that baby, and bring life into the world. It’s amazing.
I’m very excited.
It had been dramatic, I’m sure. What are the usual steps for someone to achieve your professional degree?
You can be a registered nurse with your Associate Degree or a registered nurse with your Bachelor’s Degree. You then need specific training in labor and delivery. That’s usually about four months of training on the unit with classes on the side like the hospital and on-the-job training with the preceptor.
What’s the best part of your career?
The best part is seeing new parents be in awe of the new baby that they brought into the world. It’s really natural.
That would be an awesome moment. The least favorite part of your career?
The long hours. I’m night shift so it’s twelve hours from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM, but we don’t usually get out until 7:30 AM and then sleeping in the day and managing family life too.
That gives a nice overview of what you do as an L&D Nurse. To dive a little bit deeper, can you share a story or an example of a patient you’ve taken care of where it made you feel like this was the right career choice for you.
This happened some time ago. I had been in labor and delivery nursing for five years at that point. If I’m guessing how I felt at that moment, I probably didn’t want to go to work because I never want to leave my family at night and go to work for twelve hours. I got to the hospital. I had an assignment for a patient who was close to delivery. I helped her as she was pushing and then finally delivered her baby and managed her immediate postpartum recovery. Afterward, I brought her to the postpartum unit where she would have a different nurse.
When we bring a patient to the postpartum unit, we have the mom carrying her baby in her arms. When we get to the new room, I move the baby to the little bassinet, and then the mom goes to her bed. As I was going to take the baby from the mom and put the baby in the bassinet, the mom goes, “Go to Auntie Shaina.” It was heartwarming that in two hours of being with this patient, all of a sudden, we had this tight bond, and she was calling me Auntie Shaina to her baby. I teared up because that’s me and my nature. It felt special. I hope that she remembers me as her baby is growing old and thinking, “The nurse that helped me in labor and delivery.” I hope she remembers me because I remember her. That what made me feel like, “This is why I’m here.” I can have that special relationship with virtual strangers.
You just met them and you’re helping them out. One of those moments you’re going to remember probably for the whole life, you’re there for that. For me, as anesthesiologists, they’re lucky if they remember if I’m a guy or a girl after I did their anesthesia. What is your typical day look like, start to finish?
Do you want me to explain prepping for my night shift?
If I’m going to work a particular night, I try to take a nap in the day, around noon, for a couple of hours. Three hours would be the best nap that I could get and then I’ll pick up my kids from school. These days, my husband has been able to help pick up the kids from school. We have an early dinner at 5:30 PM and then at 6:30 PM, I go to work. I don’t wear scrubs to work because there are scrubs in labor and delivery. I get to the unit and change into my scrubs. We go into a room. For all the nurses, it’s our report room. We get reports on all the patience on the whole unit, which sometimes can range from 2 to 10 patients.
We’re a smaller unit. There are some labor and delivery units that do a lot more deliveries a month. In our unit, we do about 150 to 175 deliveries a month. We get reports on the whole unit and each patient and what’s going on with them. We then get our patient assignment. This is all happening at 7:00 PM for about 10 minutes. We go out to the nurse’s station. We find the specific nurse that has the patient we need to get a report on. We get reports on that patient or sometimes two patients, and then I meet my patient and do a quick assessment.Labor and delivery nursing takes someone who is compassionate, someone who's willing to think outside of the box too. Click To Tweet
I want to know how baby is doing. Mainly, I’ll look on the fetal monitor strip. How is the oxygenation level of the baby? Are there any decelerations? I look at mom and her labor progress. What’s your pain level right now? Does she have an epidural? Is she in the early stages of labor? Is she in active labor? Is she close to pushing and delivering? The rest of her body assessment. Does she have swelling in her legs? Does she have an IV that’s infusing well? Is she on Pitocin or any other medications?
Her whole history, too. For after, she has the baby and breastfeeding, does she have any history of breast surgeries or blood pressure issues that we need to watch out for? I’m doing this whole history and doing this quick assessment. Also, throughout the shift, I’m learning more about her through her chart and talking to her and the partner too. Usually, the husband is in the room or their partner. Throughout the rest of the shift, I’m helping her through labor. If she needs to get an epidural, I help her get an epidural. The anesthesiologist comes in and does the epidural. We’re checking vital signs frequently. If she needs Pitocin, I’m starting Pitocin, which is an IV medication to help labor progress faster, or any other medications.
If she’s GBS positive, which is bacteria in the vagina, then we run antibiotics every four hours to prevent her from getting an infection and passing it on to the baby through delivery. Once she’s ready to push, I’m helping her push. I am in communication with the doctor, the OB-GYN, and calling the doctor when she’s crowning, basically, and then the OB-GYN will come and catch the baby. Baby goes right on mom’s chest because doctors don’t deliver babies. The moms deliver babies.
Doing her immediate postpartum recovery period. Sometimes, this takes the whole shift. Sometimes, I can come in at any point in her labor, and it goes fast. If I got to work and she was already pushing, and I help her with the actual delivery, then I might get another patient or two throughout my shift. Sometimes patients will come in thinking they’re in labor. We triage them and put them in a smaller triage room just to see, “Are you in labor? Did your water break?” We’re assessing and trying to figure out if they need to stay at the hospital or if they can go home and go through early labor in a more comfortable place like at home.
In one shift, I presume that you can be present for no deliveries or maybe three deliveries in one shift.
There have been times where I’ve had three deliveries in one shift.
That’s a lot of charting as well.
It’s a lot of charting.
Your typical day, you end off by signing off at the end of your shift to the nurse.
The day shift nurse will come and I’ll pass off reports to that nurse saying, “She is four centimeters already. I got her through the early labor, now you get the fun part of delivery,” and passing off all the pertinent information about her medical history. The main labs that we go through are kind of quick reports are blood type. If she’s GBS positive or negative, RPR negative, that’s syphilis. Sometimes, in my old hospital, we would say chlamydia and gonorrhea, but we don’t do that at this hospital. Hep B, HIV, and COVID-19, and Rubella status, either immune or non-immune.
Shaina, what kind of misconceptions do people have about being an L&D nurse or nurse in general?
I’ve talked about this with some of my coworkers. The main misconception is that we’re just there to rock a baby and feed a baby with a bottle or something. That is far from what we do, or we coach them through and be like, “You’re doing great.” Be more encouraging, “You’re doing amazing. Push, good job.” It can be much more intense than that. It’s not so happy-go-lucky all the time. Sometimes, it’s scary. In some ways, I feel like we are emergency room nurses and labor and delivery room nurses because we have that triage aspect where we’re the first unit that a pregnant person will come to if they’re over twenty weeks and if they have any kind of issue. Although, a lot of pregnant women will go to the emergency room if they have other problems going on that have nothing to do with their baby and pregnancy like they broke their ankle or something. We can’t help with that in labor and delivery, but we can send a nurse down to do a Doppler and check on the baby and make sure that everything is okay with the baby.
How would you describe your work-life balance as a nurse?
That’s something that I’ve struggled with my whole career the past years. That’s one of the reasons why I went from full-time to per diem, which is one shift a week or two shifts in a two-week pay period because I want more time with my family. I was pregnant in nursing school with my first. That’s the reason why I took a whole year off from even looking for a job after I graduated because I wanted to have time with my daughter and have that experience of being a stay-at-home mom. I then felt ready to launch into my career. Having a partner who is so supportive, my husband, is what makes this much easier.
He can be like, “It’s fine. I like that you go to work.” He’s not begging for me to stay home or anything. That sounds horrible. He loves me when I’m home. He loves me, I love him. He’s very supportive. He knows that I find my passion and joy in being with patients and having that connection as I described as Auntie Shaina. He sees the spark in me when I get home from work, even though the night before when I left, I didn’t want to go. He’s like, “You’re going to be fine.”
What do you think the future outlook is like for your profession? Not necessarily your career, but the profession itself?
It’s here to stay. People are having babies all the time. We thought that COVID-19 would deter people from the hospital. No, there were more deliveries. In 2020 it seemed like than in any other year. People are still going to have their babies whether there’s a pandemic or not. There are 3 million babies born a year and most of those deliveries are in the hospital setting. There are some home births and birth center births but labor and delivery nursing is here to stay.
Is it difficult to find a job as an L&D nurse?
Sometimes, yes. As a new grad, you are more likely to find a job for a new grad residency program in a Med-Surg unit. After you have that one year of experience, you can transfer to labor and delivery, but then you’ll have more training to do. It was unique that I found a new grad nursing residency program into labor and delivery. Straight out of nursing school into labor and delivery because most L&D units want an experienced nurse to come on to the unit.
What type of students do you think the best flourish in this type of career?
It takes someone compassionate. Someone who’s willing to think outside of the box. In labor and delivery, there’s the whole labor process, which is a natural process. It has become a medicalized thing because of issues that can arise in pregnancy that are dangerous and warrant the medical approach with medications and sometimes surgery on cesarean deliveries. For someone who wants to have an unmedicated delivery in the hospital setting, the nurse needs to be able to think out of the box. How do we manage this person’s pain without all the interventions and medications that are available in the hospital? This patient doesn’t necessarily want all that, but they’re here, so we need to help this patient.
It’s out of the box thinking and someone who’s an advocate. A lot of women, from what I see at my current hospital and the demographic of patients, are educating themselves about labor and delivery. They have specific things on their birth plan. As the nurse, we want to grant them their birth wish and help their birth plan to come true. That means being an advocate for your patient. Someone who stays calm through emergencies because everything can seem to be going fine throughout this person’s labor, and then all of a sudden, the baby has a long deceleration of the heart rate. Something else warrants an emergency C-section.
You are unplugging everything from the wall. You’re rushing to the operating room, and trying to be fast. If you’re freaking out and running around like a chicken with your head cut off, it does not help the situation. Someone who can stay calm as well, which also transfers to helping your patient through labor pain. If you’re calm and they sense that calmness from the main person who is helping them through their labor, that will hopefully transfer to them staying calm.
Changing gears here, were you always interested in going to nursing and being an L&D nurse?
Yeah. My dad is a doctor. Medical, doctor, nurse, and healthcare, that was always looming over my head like, “That’s a possibility.” There was a brief moment I wanted to be a singer and actress. That didn’t pan out. When I was sixteen, I started helping my dad out in his doctor’s office. I’d be his secretary.
What kind of doctor is he, by the way?
He’s a family doctor. He practices homeopathy, which is unique. I’d be a secretary in his office, see patients, and see how he interacted with patients. That was intriguing to me. There was a career day at my high school and there was a panel of people. I knew that I wanted to be on the science track because I thought maybe physical therapy or something like that. I was in the room with the panelists all talking about their different careers.
There was a nurse and she said, “Nursing is versatile. I’ve been a military nurse. I’ve been a flight nurse. I’ve been a nurse in the hospital. I’ve worked in all these different units, Med-Surg, ICU, and all these different things.” I was like, “You could do a lot of things with nursing. I thought it was in the hospital in your twelve-hour shifts, but you can do so many things.” That’s when my interest was sparked even more like, “I think I want to be a nurse, what kind of nurse? I love pregnant ladies and babies.”
What do you mean you love pregnant ladies and babies?
It was people I was drawn to, I’d see a pregnant lady and I would want to talk to her and learn more about her pregnancy and hold babies. It was part of my heart. It’s something inside of me. My dad, who’s a family doctor, also delivered babies at the time as a family physician. He brought me to the hospital where he had privileges and had me shadow a nurse. I was 17 or 18 years old. The nurse said, “Go put on some scrubs and meet me right back out here.” I put on some scrubs, little me, seventeen years old. I came out and she’s like, “We’re going to watch the C-Section.” I was like, “What?”The baby goes right on mom's chest because doctors don't deliver babies; moms deliver babies. Click To Tweet
Is that what you jumped into?
I put on my little bonnet, the hair covering, and then my mask. I go in, she plops me right in the middle and I’m watching the C-Section. I’m sure my eyes were bugging out of my head. I started to feel hot because I’m breathing my own air. The nurse spotted me that I didn’t look good. She waved at me to come out of OR. I felt like I was going to faint, but somehow that didn’t stop me. It did not deter me. I said, “This is what I want to do. I want to be a labor and delivery nurse.”
From there, you pursued a degree in nursing in college?
That’s right. I did my prerequisites. At my particular University, you have to go through the prerequisite of Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, and then apply to the nursing program, be approved, and then go into the nursing program, which was three years of clinical.
Shifting gears here a little bit, I want to do some rapid-fire questions for you. Are you ready?
I think so.
Straightforward here. Favorite day of the week?
Least favorite type of movies to watch?
Favorite and least favorite subject in school?
Favorite, Math. Least favorite is History.
Favorite thing to do with your kids?
Going to the Natural History Museum to see dinosaurs.
That is fun. Although the eight-month-old probably won’t take much in.
He’ll be okay.
If you had to, what is one thing that you would change about yourself?
I would be taller. I’m 4’11 and it’s hard for me to reach the IV pole sometimes.
I can see how that would be a quality you’d like to change, just a few more inches. The best thing to do on date night?
Go out to a fancy dinner, and sit at the bar where we can look into the kitchen and see them cook. There’s a specific restaurant that we like to do that because it feels fancy, even though you’re sitting at the bar. You can see them cook and it’s fascinating. I love it.
What would you consider to be one of the most important qualities of a parent?
Being intentional with your kids. Seeking out the conversation, starting conversations, and learning more about your kids. They’re all different. Each of my three kids are opposite from each other. We took them out on dates on their birth date of every month. My daughter is born on June 2nd. On the 2nd of every month. Either I or my husband, take her out on a date. On the 11th of every month, my husband and I alternate taking out my son on a date. I’m learning about them.
Last question, if you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children about life that would be the most important thing for them to know to get a head start? Heavy question. That is rapid-fire by the way.
This is not so rapid-fire, probably to manage their finances well. I know that sounds so practically old, but that’s what I’m learning now. Figuring out where to put your money and how to be generous with it too. That not just to save it all and hoard it, but to be generous to the right places.
That’s it for the rapid-fire questions. Thanks, Shaina. You did fantastic.
That wasn’t so rapid for some of those questions.
In 2019, I started a business called Preparented like a prepared parent because I wanted to use my labor and delivery experience and also my experience as a parent to help new parents to feel 100% prepared for parenthood. I teach birth education classes. I also teach breastfeeding classes and newborn care classes. Everyone prepares for their labor day, their day of birth, but not necessarily for after being a parent and how that impacts your relationship with your partner.
Each stage of parenthood, like the newborn stage, is my favorite. I’m one of the weird ones. I love the newborn stage, but even past that. Starting solid food and all these things that you’re not taught as a young adult or an adult. That’s my business., I’m also a lactation consultant. I help new parents in their breastfeeding journeys, as well. In my podcast, I started with one of my coworkers. Her name is Liz. She is a labor and delivery nurse but has been doing this for way longer than me. She’s been a nurse for about 30 years.
What’s Liz’s full name?Figure out where to put your money and how to be generous with it, too. Click To Tweet
It’s Liz Baker Wade. We have a podcast called The Birth Nurses. We talk about our experience as nurses. We’ve also started interviewing people about their experience in the labor and delivery unit. We talk about more behind-the-scenes things of labor and delivery, not necessarily what the patient sees all the time, but what the nurses are going through as well.
Where can people find and learn more about you?
I’ve seen your Instagram. It’s informative. It’s personalized too. It’s a great thing, especially if you are a young parent or interested in this career to learn about labor and delivery and also some of the things talked about, which is after the delivery. It can be quite educational. I liked it a lot. Check that out. Shaina, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate you coming on board.
This is fun. Thank you.
That’s our show. Thanks for tuning in. To learn more about today’s guests or other past guests, check out my website HealthCareersWithDrMarn.com or HCWithDrMarn.com. If you like what you read on the show, then please go to my website, add your name and email to my email list. That way you can get the latest announcements and news as they arise. You can also find me on Instagram @DrRichardMarn. Thank you so much for reading and catch you on the next episode.
- Episode 32 – Home Birth: The Joys & Adventures Of Being A Certified Nurse Midwife With Kimm Sun, CNM
- Episode 36 – Stephanie Heintzeler On How A Professional Doula Works
- Episode 40 – Anna Barbieri: Delving Into Various OB-GYN Sub-Specializations
- Shaina Brickner
- The Birth Nurses – Apple Podcasts
- Liz Baker Wade
- @Preparented – Instagram
- @DrRichardMarn – Instagram
About Shaina Brickner
Hi! I’m Shaina! I’m a Labor and Delivery nurse to the core…and I’m an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). I love talking about labor and delivery, assisting women through labor and helping them deliver their babies into this world. When I see a mom and dad meet their baby for the very first time, I truly have to fight back the tears. It’s a beautiful experience! I’m a wife, a mom to 3 wonderful and crazy kids, and a lover of dairy-free ice cream on top of a gooey brownie. 🙂
I’ve worked with young moms, older moms, IVF moms, moms expecting twins, moms with high risk pregnancies, moms who go “all natural,” moms who get epidurals, moms who get c-sections. You name it. I will NOT replace your OBGYN, midwife or doula, but I want to be a part of your parenting team. I want to help you in your journey from pregnancy through delivery and after your baby is at home with you.
I was young when I first got pregnant with my oldest, and even though I was going through nursing school at the time, I still felt clueless and scared about the daunting journey of pregnancy and childbirth. I had a couple of older “mom friends” that I could talk to, but no one who could answer all of my questions.
That’s what I’m seeking to provide for you. I especially feel passionate about helping new dads figure out how to be confident, strong, and educated in their role as fathers and how to best support their partners in their pregnancy, labor, and delivery of their baby.
So if you want help to be a prepared parent, schedule a consultation with me! I’d love to meet you!