Who's caring for mama and baby in the hospital?

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When you enter the hospital to have your baby, you'll meet several new people. All are there to ensure your safety and comfort.

"I think it's helpful to have an understanding of who these very important people are and what they do," said Kathy Priester, a certified registered nurse at HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center. "Even something as simple as knowing that our RNs wear navy blue scrubs helps you sort out the 'who's who' of maternity care." Here are the staff members you'll encounter:

Health unit coordinator

Your first point of contact will greet you, ask your name and your doctor's name. The health unit coordinator will call back to the maternity unit and direct you where to go.

Who's caring for mama and baby in the hospital?

OB triage nurse

Once you're on the maternity unit, your OB triage nurse will hook you up to a fetal monitor and ask a lot of questions, all to ensure the best possible care for you and your baby. Your OB triage nurse will determine your stage of labor and prepare you for surgery if you're there for a scheduled C-section. You usually spend only a short amount of time in triage. One exception is if you need cervical ripening (synthetic prostaglandins that soften or thin the cervix), which might take more time.

Labor and delivery nurse

When you're in active labor, you'll meet this nurse. Depending on how long the process takes, you may have just one or you may have a few due to shift changes. Your labor and delivery nurse will check your progress, administer medications as necessary and communicate directly with your obstetrician.

"As a labor and delivery nurse, our sole job is to ensure safe passage for you and your baby," Kathy said. "Every nurse you meet is there to make sure you have a beautiful experience. Your safety and comfort are our top priorities."

Patient care technicians

They take vital signs, collect specimens and help you with personal hygiene and grooming when needed.

Anesthesiologist

If you request an epidural, you'll also meet this physician who specializes in pain relief.

Transition nurse

Once you're close to delivery, you'll meet this nurse. Your labor and delivery nurse will continue to care for you, and the transition nurse will prepare to take care of your baby when he or she is delivered. The transition nurse will ensure your baby is breathing appropriately and has a strong heart rate. This nurse also will get your newborn's official weight and length measurements.

Hospitalist

You may encounter this board-certified obstetrician. He or she may work with your personal obstetrician in case of emergency, or if your doctor is unavailable or needs assistance. The hospitalist will also see you in OB triage if you come for any reason other than a labor check.

Postpartum nurse

You and your newborn will be cared for by a postpartum nurse. This is also referred to as couplet care — one nurse for you and your baby as a "couple."

Unless your baby needs to be in the special care nursery, your baby will be rooming with you. This will allow for plenty of bonding time. Your postpartum nurse assesses you and your baby each time she/he visits your room, looking for anything out of the ordinary. This nurse can help you with:

  • Diaper changing and breastfeeding.
  • Ensuring that you're healing properly and that the baby is feeding properly.
  • Determining what's normal and what's not — the most important step before you head home with your baby in tow.

A pediatrician

Your pediatrician will visit your newborn in the hospital to check your baby's health. This physician also will see the baby and you again a week after you're discharged from the hospital.

A hearing technician

Your newborn also will receive a hearing screening from a while in the hospital.

Having a Caesarian section?

Your team members will differ if you're having a Caesarian section. You'll meet an anesthesiologist, scrub technician and RN first assist. All will be working in the operating room, focused on safely delivering your baby.