Tell your nurse thank you is plenty of gift for them, but if you want to give your labor and delivery nurse something more, I’m going to give you some gift basket ideas to leave at the hospital as a thank you gift for all the staff’s hard work on the many shifts you were a patient.
But first, how do I know all of this? Hi — I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have seen thousands of patients in the hospital and helped with their delivery (and honestly, the vast majority didn’t give any gifts), but I do know how great it is when someone does give a gift — so, I’m a great resource for you.
Of course, the best gift you can give is to take a prenatal class and get prepared for your upcoming birth.
I have a free beginning prenatal class I bet you’ll love:
Ok, let’s get into it – starting with the most important question:
Are You Allowed to Buy Gifts for Your Delivery Team?
This one is tricky.
The real answer is that people who are being paid by insurance (especially state-run insurance like Medicaid) should not accept tips. However, they realize that people do want to thank us, so most hospitals are OK with people taking items valued at $5-10 or larger items (like a gift basket) can be brought for the whole unit to enjoy.
I have had managers who looked the other way when people wanted to thank a specific nurse for her hard work, but it does really vary location to location on what labor and delivery nurse gifts they can take.
Do You Have to Get Gifts for Delivery Nurses or Other Healthcare Workers?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. Honestly, it’s not even expected. While we got 2-3 gift baskets/month before Covid, after Covid that number decreased and really people don’t expect anything.
I will say that the cards that I have gotten that have told me specific things they remember that I did to help when they were in labor were things that I treasure so much. So, don’t think that thank you cards can’t be awesome as well (the more specific the better), no need to purchase something if you don’t want (we all know the budget is tight when a new baby is added).
BUT, many people WANT to thank the staff, and that is OK too. I’ve got a bunch of simple ideas that you can use below in your kind gesture.
How Many Nurse Gifts Do I Need?
Often people want to bring a specific gift for each nurse that they have seen during their stay. This can be hard, as the number of nurses that you will see during your stay really varies based on:
- How many shifts you’re in labor
- If you end up switching nurses mid-shift (not unusual at all)
- If you have a c-section and stay at the hospital longer
- If your hospital staffs postpartum different from labor (and if they’re scheduled multiple days while you’re there)
- How long you stay after.
Most hospitals run off a 12 hour shift for nurses (although I have worked in some hospitals that do 8’s instead).
Most people are in labor for about a day, that’s two nurses. Plus 2 full days of postpartum, that’s six total nurses (remember you have day shift nurses and night shift nurses — and both are hopefully amazing to you).
However, don’t forget the amazing support staff (like techs, unit clerks, housekeeping) that is also doing everything they can for you to have a great birth. Which is why a gift basket is awesome.
I have seen some people have a gift basket of nicer items in the room, and then they bring a larger gift basket that they leave at the nurse’s station with other items as well.
Keep in mind that you will likely be at a postpartum nurses’s station, and a labor and delivery nurse’s station — meaning you have two “Sets” of teams that help you in the hospital. Don’t forget that great postpartum staff as well!
How Do You Give The Gifts?
Like I talked about above. You can just have a basket of gifts with a sign in the room (or you can just tell the nurses as they leave you to grab something) or you can just leave them at the nurse’s station.
Embarassingly, I didn’t take any gifts with my last baby. I didn’t even think of it (a bit of a basket case at the end) but my labor nurse was SO helpful, I acftually ran something to her at my postpartum appointment. I did a thank you card (filled with specific things she did that helped) and a couple of things from Bath and Body Works for her.
We often get specific thank you items for nurses once the patient’s go home and consider all their nurse did to help them out.
What do you put in a thank you basket for nurses?
Honestly, if you like — we will likely like it as well, although nurses do have a few specific needs (that are weirder than the usual).
What do nurses need the most?
This is where we get into the nitty gritty of what nurses love — these are great gift ideas for nurse gift basket (labor and delivery or not, honestly)
Many nurses have pen porn when we find a pen that just writes SO well. You can also put some good sharpies in the basket as well.
- These are my favorite to write with
- These put a fun medical twist on it
- But, these labor-specific ones would be a HUGE hit!
From people who sanitize all the time, lotion is a big hit for nursing staff.
You could bring a big bottle that’s a favorite of yours, or small bottles. Good smells are a bonus, but we really are looking for something moisturizing.
You have no idea how many meals your nurse may have skipped to help take care of you (of course, if we were honest, she might be able to use some depends too for as many times she needs to pee and stays to help instead). Having tasty snacks at the nurse’s tation for the delivery staff just makes it seem like a better day — real treat (in so many ways) for us.
- Have a favorite restaurant bring in a party platter for them
- Cookies from a local shop can often be delivered as well
- Just buy a box of cookies at your local grocery store on your way (seriously, still love these)
- Bags of candy are also always welcome additions (we’re not pick) — and I love these wrappers that make it extra fun.
Nurses love bags of all sorts, so if you’re not wanting to get food, it’s another option — tiny makeup bags or something along those lines. Amazon even has packs of several of them (and you could always fill them with a few treats as well.
- I love the colors in this one
- These are pretty too
- Love the hearts on these (you could do a play on how loved you felt)
Pro Tip: I really wouldn’t put a ton of effort into how you put the gift basket together. It may get bumped as you’re taking it, and we really are not picky people. We are so grateful for your thought.
And honestly, it’s always a good idea to either give a thank you card to nurses you especially liked (you can just give them to your nurse and ask her to distribute them to the ones who’ve gone home) or some hospitals have a way that you can recognize nurses formally with the hospital (and that type of thing can help them get a raise or other perks at the hospital.
But either way, the main thing we all really want is for you to enjoy you stay at the hospital, to feel confident in the labor room and go home knowing you’re going to be a great mom!
And no, I’m not kidding about a prenatal class being a huge help to your labor team. You’re giving everyone a leg-up on the day when you feel confident, and you know the types of decisions you’ll make along the way.
Come join me in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples — where, in just 3 hours, I’ll prepare you for the confident, collaborative, hospital birth you’re looking for!
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward becoming your own birth boss.
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice. She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.
As an evidence-based prenatal educator Hilary has delivered thousands of babies and has educated hundreds of thousands of parents from a diverse patient population to help them have a confident birth.