If I'm meeting the client at the hospital, I go straight to the nurse's station and introduce myself and tell them who I'm with. If there's someone at the desk who knows me, I go to that person. I knock before I enter the room, meet and greet the couple first and then the nurse if she's in the room and any other personnel, obviously not butting into anything that's going on or interrupting conversations. Then I wash my hands. I think that's very important and shows that I'm at least halfway bright. I never go to a birth dressed as a shlumpadinka. I also never get in the way of the nurse and I make sure I don't get in between the nurse and my client either physically or figuratively. Even if I've warmed up 2,000 rice bags in their microwave or gotten ice from the ice machine behind the desk 2,000 times before, I always ask beforehand the first time for that client. It's the nurses' territory and I want to respect that. Occasionally I come across a nurse who says no and she gets the ice or warms the rice bag for me. That's how she wants it done because she's territorial, then that's OK. I've been going to the three local hospitals for the past 24 years and I think I can count on one hand the times I've had a problem with any hospital people and one of those was a nurse anesthetist who got all up in my face literally because she felt I needed to leave the room while an epidural was being placed. I think it made her feel superior to throw her weight around. Otherwise, I have found that if I'm nice and cordial and kind to them and respect their job, they do the same in return. If I have a nurse who's a bit constipated (my word for being a crab) that day, I try to remember that she most likely entered her profession because she wanted to help people. So if there's something that I'd like to do with my client that I think she's never done before or that she may be a bit cranky about if I just go ahead and do it, I say something like, "Myrtle dear, can you help me/us?" I was at a birth on Thursday which was an induction and was just pure torture for my client. The baby was LOT for hours and the doc was getting antsy and I wondered if we could get my client into a butt-up position to see if the baby would rotate. I did a bit of quick thinking and went out to the desk and talked to the client's nurse and rather than saying, "I think we should try X" or "Can I try X", I asked her if she knew of anything else I could try and she immediately said, "Well, the epidural's pretty light. I think we could get her with her chest down on the bed and her butt up for a bit." I just had a feeling that if it was her idea, it would go over better.
I think that if we show respect for people, whether they're the nurse or the janitor, it's never a bad thing. If I'm choogling down the hall to get some ice and I come across that peron mopping the floor or vaccuming, I make sure I don't get in their way and I always thank them for keeping the hospital so clean. It's not butt kissing, it's respect for their job.
And then there's food. Every so often, I try to take up some cupcakes or something small that nurses can eat easily and quickly. If we've had a great experience, I send the nurse and the supervisor a note. If we've had a good/average experience, I send the nurse a note and I make sure I put in at least one detail that made that birth special because she was there.
And I totally understand and hear you on the "herd 'em in, herd 'em out" aspect. Maybe you could try to focus on one thing that Sally Sue RN is doing great with that particular client and thank her for it--even it she's cranky and a real stickler for the rules, you can tell her you appreciate her efficiency. Sometimes I have to really fish for it and it gets down to saying something like, "Gee, those shoes look so comfortable!" and that kind of softens her up a bit and she's more flexible. Always be professional, kind and courteous. There's never a reason to fight or get rude during a birth. If nothing else, we have to remember the baby and her/his experience, too.