When caring for women experiencing preterm labor and birth, nurses play a significant role as bedside experts, advocates, patient educators, and key members of the maternity care team. Enhanced expertise on clinical and professional knowledge of preterm labor and birth is crucial in prevention and treatment. As preterm birth rates continue to rise, perinatal nurses as well-informed clinical experts have the opportunity to offer innovative education, holistic assessments, and communication through shared decision-making models. Educating pregnant women about early recognition of preterm labor warning signs and symptoms allows for timely diagnosis, interventions, and treatment. Informed and collaborative nursing practice improves quality of clinical care based on individualized interactions. A clinical review of preterm labor and preterm birth is presented for perinatal nurses.
Understanding the physiology of fetal oxygenation and various influences on fetal heart rate control supports nurses, midwives, and physicians in interpreting and managing electronic fetal heart rate tracings during labor and birth. Maternal oxygenation, placental circulation and exchange, umbilical blood flow and fetal circulation affect fetal oxygenation, which is reflected in observed fetal heart rate patterns. Fetal heart control is further influenced by the central and autonomic nervous systems, baroreceptors, chemoreceptors, humoral factors, sleep–wake patterns, breathing movements, medications, painful stimuli, sound and vibrations, and temperature. Knowledge of the physiologic basis for fetal heart rate pattern characteristics guides interventions to improve fetal oxygenation when indicated. A review and update on clinical implications of fetal heart rate pattern interpretation based on underlying physiology is presented.
The increase in severe maternal morbidity and mortality in the United States correlates with a significant rise in U.S. cesarean birth rates from 5.5% in 1970 to a rate of 31.9% of all births in 2018, far beyond the World Health Organization goal of 10% to 15%. Three key contributors to maternal morbidity and mortality related to cesarean birth include complications of hemorrhage, surgical site infection, and venous thromboembolism. All women should be screened for risk factors associated with these major complications during the antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum period to assure the availability of immediate resources based on the assessment. Implementing evidence-based maternity care safety bundles, toolkits, and protocols to manage these complications can reduce adverse outcomes.
Oral feeding readiness is a complex concept. More evidence is needed on how to approach beginning oral feedings in premature hospitalized infants. This article provides a review of literature related to oral feeding readiness in the premature infant and strategies for promoting safe and efficient progression to full oral intake. Oral feeding readiness assessment tools, clinical pathways, and feeding advancement protocols have been developed to assist with oral feeding initiation and progression. Recognition and support of oral feeding readiness may decrease length of hospital stay and have a positive impact on reducing healthcare costs. Supporting effective cue-based oral feeding through use of rigorous assessment or evidence-based care guidelines can also optimize the hospital experience for infants and caregivers, which, in turn, can promote attachment and parent satisfaction.
The administration of injections is a fundamental nursing skill; however, it is not without risk. Children receive numerous vaccines, and pediatric nurses administer the majority of these vaccines via the intramuscular route, and thus must be knowledgeable about safe and evidence-based immunization programs. Nurses may not be aware of the potential consequences associated with poor injection practices, and historically have relied on their basic nursing training or the advice of colleagues as a substitute for newer evidence about how to administer injections today. Evidence-based nursing practice requires pediatric nurses to review current literature to establish best practices and thus improved patient outcomes.
Falls in the perinatal setting have received minimal attention and have not been well documented. Women are at risk for falling following vaginal or cesarean birth, especially during initial attempts at ambulation. Recently, a women's hospital that averages over 500 births per month recorded a postpartum fall rate that exceeded the national mean for adult surgical patient falls. A fall prevention team (FPT) of five nurses was formed with a goal to decrease the incidence of postpartum patient falls to zero within the following 7 months. A patient-centered fall prevention strategy was developed. The results of this project have laid the foundation for additional research of a program that will consider not only prevention of falls in a healthy population but also the development of a risk assessment tool specific to women in the immediate postpartum period.
This article presents a case study of a new mother experiencing postpartum depression and altered attachment with her newborn. Theories related to postpartum depression and maternal-newborn attachment are reviewed, and evidenced-based strategies for care are discussed in the context of the case.
Although a small minority in the United States, a number of adoptive mothers continue to seek information regarding the induction of lactation. Because of the level of support needed by these women to successfully induce lactation, it is necessary for nurses and other healthcare workers to gain a thorough understanding of the various processes and medications frequently used. Often, women who induce lactation cannot produce enough milk to exclusively breastfeed their infant but find satisfaction in this rigorous process because of the maternal-infant bonding it promotes. The adoptive mother seeking to induce lactation is a unique client in need of highly tailored and personalized care.