May 14, 2012

night float

so I started my month of night float on labor and delivery two weeks ago (or was it three?  the days sort of blur together when you leave work, sleep for a few hours and come back to work and it's the same day)  you'd think wishing so many new people their first birthday I'd at least know what day it is, but usually I don't.

what is night float?, you may ask -
well I go in around 5:30 pm, change and get ready for sign-out at 6pm, take over patients from the residents who have been there during the day and then manage all patients who are already on the floor or who come in laboring over night, then I sign out around 7am the next morning back over to the day team.  Usually this is followed by a lecture or a didactic session until about 8:30 or 9, after which I bike home, shower, maybe eat something, and crawl into bed to sleep for a few hours before heading back in later that night.

it's a total shock to the system, to say the least, but it's also pretty amazing.  babies are definitely meant to be born at night.  if you take an evolution view, if you're going to be in a state where you are pretty unaware of your surroundings and spending all your energy on something that leaves you pretty defenseless - best to do it when it's easier to hide and there's less going on in the forest.

it's been an amazing few weeks of actually getting to deliver babies, managing women in labor - and learning what's normal and what's not, how to follow the heart tracing of a baby about to be born, how to check the cervix as it gets ready to open and let a baby out, and getting the honor of supporting women in some pretty vulnerable - but also incredibly powerful moments, it's truly awe inspiring and even though I'm exhausted, I don't know if there's anything cooler or more exciting than helping a new life come into being.

some tips I have for anyone working nights (this is also so when I'm a resident on months of night float I can look back and remember what I did to make it through):

1. first thing you do when you get home is shower.  I don't care how tired you are, [other people's] amniotic fluid should not be on your sheets.
2. bring lots of healthy snacks - especially water-heavy snacks (fruits, veggies, just plain old water)
3. when you wake up (or if you feel alert before heading to sleep): work out.  even if it's short, ugly, traumatic - there's not a day when it will feel good so if you start using that as your measure if you should go work out, it'll never happen.
4. make your off days count - get in a good run, go on a good date, take some lazy slow moments
5. have easy to prepare delicious food at the ready - it's good to still try to eat meals, even if you don't know what meal you're eating (otherwise you're just snacking, literally 24 hours).
6. make sure everyone around you knows that you're on nights, and that they should lower their expectations of you temporarily as a friend, partner, roommate, daughter, etc.
7. drink coffee when you wake up.  not too much, not to often, but just enough. (stop at palpitations)

that's all for now.  gotta grab some healthy snacks and head out for another night of birth!

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