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Models of intrapartum nursing practice, Labor and birth, Evidence-based intrapartum nursing care



  1. Simpson, Kathleen Rice PhD, RNC, FAAN


The purpose of this article is to review the context and current evidence for common nursing care practices during labor and birth. Although many nursing interventions during labor and birth are based on physician orders, there are a number of care processes that are mainly within the realm of nursing practice. In many cases, particularly in community hospitals, routine physician orders for intrapartum care provide wide latitude for nurses in how they ultimately carry out those orders. An important consideration of common nursing practices during labor is the context or practice model in which those practices occur. Nursing practice is not the same in all clinical environments. Intrapartum nursing practice consists of an assortment of different roles depending on the circumstances, hospital setting, and context in which it takes place. A variety of intrapartum nursing practice models have evolved as a result and in response to the range of sizes, locations, and provider practice styles found in hospitals providing obstetric services. A summary of intrapartum nursing models is presented. The evidence is reviewed for the three most common clinical practices for which nurses have primary responsibility in most settings and that comprise the majority of their time in caring for women during labor: (1) maternal-fetal assessment, (2) management of oxytocin infusions, and (3) second-stage care. Evidence exists for these nursing interventions that can be used to promote maternal-fetal well-being, minimize risk, and enhance patient safety.