Labor and delivery nursing is one of the most sought-after nursing specialties many nurses would like to pursue. The turnover for labor and delivery nursing is small in comparison to other nursing specialties. Many nurses that decide to go into this specialty often stay with this specialty for many years if not decades. Check out if becoming a labor and delivery nurse is the right fit for you!

How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse Guide
How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse Guide

Table of Contents

Quick Summary

Labor and delivery nursing is one of the most favored careers. Labor and delivery nurses have licensed nurses that provide specialized care for expecting mothers for all stages of labor, delivery, and recovery.

Labor and delivery nurses work in private practices, birthing centers, hospitals, or health maintenance organizations. Labor and delivery nurses must work in conjunction with Obstetricians and Gynecologists OB/GYNs medical doctors with other healthcare persons to give pregnant mothers the most effective plan of care for their delivery.

Labor and delivery nursing is one of the more fast-paced and demanding specialties to pursue. Nonetheless, there are many benefits of deciding to choose the specialty career to continue.

Degree needed to practice: Bachelor of Science (BSN) from an accredited school.

License Needed: Active Registered Nursing (RN) License

Optional Certification: You can obtain your certification from The National Certification Corp (NCC). The certification offered to Labor and delivery nurses are called Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB).

How much do Labor and Delivery Nurses make?  The Median annual salary is $67,490*


What do Labor and Delivery Nurses do?

Labor and delivery nurses perform many tasks and functions. Not only do they help with delivering babies they also must help take care of the baby right after birth, provided there are no complications with the baby. After birth, the labor and delivery nurse will weigh the baby to see how much the baby ways, perform a check on the baby’s vital signs and perform what is known as an Apgar score that measures the baby’s health 1 to 5 minutes after delivery.

They have several duties and take on many roles

Some of the tasks and responsibilities include admitting patients, providing the patient with medication, starting the patient’s IV, checking the patient’s cervix, filing any necessary paperwork placing catheters within the patient, helping patients recover after they give birth.

Also, when mothers go into labor, the labor and delivery nurse constantly has to check and monitor several machines. This action is to ensure a baby’s heart rate and their contraction patterns are moving along correctly, additionally, they must continually chart the baby and mother’s vital signs to ensure the patient and baby are alive and doing well.

Here are the common duties of a labor and delivery nurse:

  • Help to manage the patient’s pain before, during, and after labor
  • Utilize equipment to help monitor maternal and fetal vital signs, such as patient temperature, pulse, and blood pressure
  • Contribute to assisting with the doctor during the deliveries
  • Keep and maintain detailed reports and records
  • Help to educate the patient and family after, during, and after labor and delivery
  • Identify and help assist with any patient complications that may arise

In addition to being a nurse, labor and delivery sometimes play the role of being the patient, confident, best friend, mentor, support system, sister, or even mother. This part is conducted because expecting mothers need more support at a time in their lives when they need it most. They have many emotions that they are experiencing and need someone by their sides that can help them understand what is going on in what to expect in this is where the labor and delivery nurse comes in handy.

Many times when the expecting mother is in labor, she may feel like she cannot push, and sometimes the labor and delivery nurse is often the one that is encouraging her to keep pushing.

Labor and delivery nurses work as patient advocates they inshore that that is expecting mother is as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Whatever the patient may need the labor and delivery nurse will make sure she gets it. If there is an issue or problem, the labor and delivery nurse will make sure she contacts the physician.

Further labor and delivery nurses go over and beyond to make sure that the family is as comfortable as possible by providing an open line of communication to answer any questions, they may have. Every mother has her unique needs and her goals for what she would like to see develop within her labor.

This part is why it is important for labor and delivery nurses to understand how to make quick rapport with the patient. For things to go well, it is paramount for that patient to feel as if they can be able to depend on and trust the nurse sometimes this may be a little bit challenging. However, this is part of the labor into the delivery nurse’s job.

Sometimes labor and delivery nurses go through a sad reality that infants sometimes unexpectedly pass away without any warning or cause. Additionally, some babies are born with birth defects. Moreover, trying to find the right words to help comfort the patient and her family can often be challenging and emotionally trying.

The labor and delivery nurses do their best to help ease the patient’s loss by providing as much encouragement and support as they possibly can.

Many labor and delivery nurses often report that each patient that they help often leaves an impact on them because within every delivery that they help deliver their heart is in it every step of the way.

If you have a desire to work with babies as well as enjoy helping new mothers at one of the most important times of their lives, which is becoming a mother then maybe this career could be a great fit for you!

Characteristics and skills needed to be a successful Labor and Delivery Nurse

  • Be able to work in a high-stress environment
  • Be firmly committed to making a positive difference in your patients’ lives
  • Have good physical stamina, as some days, maybe unpredictable and long
  • Have strong communication skills with the ability to be able to pull people in and make them feel comfortable within a moment’s notice


What education will I need to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

If you want to become a labor and delivery nurse, you will first need to become a registered nurse. There are several ways that you can become an RN. There are three ways to become a registered nurse.

Within your nursing program most likely you will take classes that include physiology, human anatomy, psychology, microbiology, nutrition and statistics, and of course the theory and practice of nursing.

The first option to become a labor and delivery nurse is to earn your Associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). This nursing program can be taken at a junior or a community college and can take two years to complete.

The second option is obtaining a diploma through a hospital school of nursing. This option is steadily decreasing as hospital diploma schools are closing down. This option can take you three years to complete.

The third option is to obtain your bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Many BSN degrees can be earned online depending on which university you attend. The clinical aspect would be taken at a hospital close to your location.

There are several benefits to earning your BSN online as you may not have the time, or perhaps you may have a family or full-time job. This option can take four years if you go full-time. Also, BSN degrees can be made through the traditional route at a 4-year university. It is best to pick the best option that can work within your schedule and future career goals.

All of the above nursing programs combine classroom study and hands-on clinical experience for you to gain patient and hospital experience, this frequently takes place in a hospital or health care facility. Your clinical experience is to help prepare you to pass your registered nursing licensure and aid further prepare you to work as a registered nurse.

Once your nursing education program is completed, you will then be qualified to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination. Once you pass that NCLEX-RN exam, you will earn your registered nursing licensure.

After you have obtained your registered nursing license, you will need to apply for a job within the labor and delivery unit to gain hands-on paid working experience as a registered nurse.


What certifications are available for Labor and Delivery Nurses?

This certification is for registered nurses that work in the specialty of mothers that are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Also, this certification is for new mothers that have recently delivered.

Certification: Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB)

Who is this certification offered by The National Certification Corporation (NCC)

What are the qualifications to take this exam?

  1. Hold a current license as a registered nurse
  2. Have at least 2 of experience within labor and delivery nursing or have a minimum of 2000 hours
  3. Obtained employment within labor and delivery nursing within the last two years


Career Outlook

The United States DOL is projecting employment for RNs will grow much faster than average throughout 2014. According to the U.S census bureau, there are 4 million births annually in the United States. With birth numbers within the millions, this increases the demand for labor and delivery nurses.

Read also – How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN) Guide

Check out our other Nursing School Guides.