Tales of a Doula: Scrubs malfunction!

They say you learn something at every birth. Today I’m going to share with you about the time I learned more than I wanted to about a nurse I was working with. It’s been more than a decade since this happened, and I can truthfully say I don’t remember what the nurse looked like. So if you happen to recognize yourself from reading this story…your secret is safe. It was hands down the most awkward situation I’ve experienced at a birth!

I had labored with my client in her home for a few hours, and she started feeling a need to get to her birthing place and settle in for labor. So we moved from her home to the hospital where she had arranged to have her baby. When we arrived, the staff had us go into a triage room and wait while they pulled her records. My client’s husband brought in their birth ball, and we got my client settled in on the ball swaying side to side during contractions and resting against her husband in between.

After a few minutes, a nurse came in to set up the monitors and take a health history. She got everything set up, and started in on the history questions. Midway through the health history, she noticed the baby’s heartbeat wasn’t registering any more. The nurse squatted down in front of my client’s belly, adjusted the fetal monitor, and then stood up to finish her questions and charting. Only the nurse’s pants stayed down when she stood up! That day I learned that it’s fairly common for nurses to not wear underwear beneath their scrubs.

It took a few seconds for the nurse to realized exactly what happened. When she did, she briefly made eye contact with me – with a deer in the headlights – help me! look – and ran from the room, pulling her scrubs up as she went. Thankfully, she managed to avoid tripping as she did. We never saw her again. A different nurse soon took over caring for my client.

I wish I could say that I handled it super professionally, and immediately diffused all the awkwardness and got my client refocused on her labor, but the truth is, I don’t really remember what I said that day. I remember that I tried hard not to laugh. And failed. I remember my client’s husband making references to the moon throughout the rest of the labor, and my client missing the references entirely. And I remember debating about whether or not to put the incident in the written birth story I gave my client. (I did.)

So there you have it: My most awkward moment at a birth. What’s yours?

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