When we first found out our daughter would have a cleft, one of my biggest concerns was how this would impact the overall labor and delivery process. I had read horror stories from other cleft parents about how their babies were rushed to the NICU immediately after birth just because their children had clefts — not because there was a medical emergency. I’d also ready about how feeding tubes were used prematurely instead of giving cleft babies a chance to nurse/eat just like any other baby. My overall wish was, as long as Christian didn’t have any other medical needs, that she be treated like any other baby. After doing some research, I realized that a lot of our fate rested in the hands of our nurses. So the idea for nurse gifts was born kind of selfishly. I wanted to make sure they liked me so that I had a better chance of my birth plan being followed. However, after experiencing birth for the first time, I now know how deserving nurses are of gifts and appreciation! I can’t even begin to describe to you how much my nurses did for me. Stay tuned for a birth story post where I go into more detail! At the end of this post, I provide a downloadable thank you note that you can include with your gift! This is an important detail to remember when giving your nurses their gift!
My point is this: your labor/delivery and postpartum nurses deserve all.the.gifts. Chances are they’re working almost just as hard as you are — and you’re the one birthing a baby! There’s a couple of decisions you need to make when deciding what your nurse gifts will be like!
- Individual gifts or group gifts: you need to decide if you’ll make “goody bag” style snacks or have one big basket of snacks that can be shared by several nurses. The pro of individual gifts is that you can continue to give them out even as nurses change shifts. Your nurses’ shifts last 12 hours, so it would be a bummer if you gave a huge basket to all the nurses on the night shift, only to have a whole other groups of nurses be there for the later stages of labor and delivery. However, I chose to do the group gift (in the form of a big basket with snacks/drinks for about four nurses.)This was easier for me, and I didn’t have to worry about handing multiple goody bags out throughout my stay there. I bought the baskets for a reasonable price from Target, and they were the perfect size for holding all the snacks and drinks!
- When to give the gift: If you choose to do a group basket of snacks for your nurses, be smart about when you give it to them! We checked into the hospital around 4am, and I knew the shift change would be at 7am, so I waited until we met the new shift’s nurse to give them the basket. I’m not sure what the nurses did with the basket. Maybe they shared it with other nurses, maybe they kept it all for themselves. However, I wanted to make sure the nurse who would be with me for the bulk of my labor got the basket. For a future pregnancy, I might do individual goody bags just to make sure all the nurses that helped me feel appreciated!
- Have two sets of gifts: after you deliver, you will have to say a sad goodbye to the labor/delivery nurse that’s been helping you. You’ll then be moved to the postpartum floor, where you’ll meet the nurse who will be taking care of mommy (you!) and the nurse who will be taking care of baby. So whether you’re doing individual goody bags or a group basket, keep in mind the different nurses who will be helping you. If you do individual baskets, one basket for labor/delivery nurses and one basket for postpartum nurses should be enough. If you’re doing goody bags, I would probably make about 6 — half for labor/delivery nurses and half for postpartum nurses.
- What to include in the gift: FOOD! CAFFEINE! I asked a nurse at one of our birthing classes this question, and that is the answer I got. I chose not to do anything homemade because I had my baskets ready to go weeks in advance, but it might be nice to include something homemade if that’s your style. In my baskets I put about four of each of the following: coffee drinks, fruit snacks, granola bars, gum, Rice Krispie treats, and a variety of mini Oreo, Nutter Butter, and Chips Ahoy cookie packs.
- Include a note with your gift: don’t let the nurses forget who was kind enough to bring them a gift! I’ve even seen where some people put their room number on their note. Here is a link to download the note I made. It’s short, simple, eye-catching, and included our names on it!