While you’ve carved a career path in nursing, you’re considering a specialty. If you’ve always nursed the dream of birthing and caring for a newborn, you should think about labor and delivery.
Labor and delivery (L&D) nursing is a branch of nursing concerned with childbirth and caring for the baby. The notoriously famous specialty is highly sought-after in hospitals or birthing centers.
Being an L&D nurse is undisputedly one of the most fulfilling and harrowing nursing careers.
Here’s all you need to know about L&D nursing, from its requirements to responsibilities and salary range.
What does a labor and delivery nurse do?
L&D nurses work closely with gynecologists and obstetricians to facilitate a smooth childbirth experience. These nurses ensure patients deliver their babies safely while monitoring their progress during labor and after delivery.
While L&D nurses work in the general ward, they also work with mothers with medical complications and fetal development.
Below are the roles of an L&D nurse:
- Monitors contraction
- Check the mother’s and baby’s vitals.
- Provide support to mothers during labor and delivery
- Records and communicates the health status of mother and child to specialists and support staff
- Educate patients about pregnancy, postpartum phases, and infant care
- Administer medication to mothers and babies as directed
- Conduct newborn screening and assist mothers with breastfeeding
- Train student nurses and new hires
What is the salary range of a labor and delivery nurse?
Based on reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2020, the annual salary of registered nurses is $75,330 each year. An L&D nurse’s salary ranges from $46,225 to $86,709.
Depending on the location, experience, and certifications, income may increase. Hawaii, California, Alaska, Massachusetts, and Oregon ranks among the highest-paid nurses.
What are the education requirements for a labor and delivery nurse?
To be a labor and delivery nurse, you must earn a degree in ADN or ABSN from an accredited university. Most employers prefer L&D nurses with ABSN degrees.
In addition, nurses must pass their NCLEX exam to be licensed to practice nursing. Nurses looking to work in the L&D section must have at least a year of experience attending to patients.
Furthermore, they must work as postpartum nurses before advancing to an L&D role.
What are the career opportunities available for L&D nurses?
Besides gaining experience in postpartum, L&D nurses need to be certified in Basic Life Support (BLS), NCC Credential in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB), Certification in Electronic Fetal Monitoring (C-EFM), etc.
Only nurses with at least two years of experience in obstetrics can write the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing exam. Meanwhile, you need to renew your license every three years.
Most healthcare facilities prefer nurses with this certification. The National Certification Corporation (NCC) administers most of these programs.
These certifications encompass labor and delivery practices, cesarean section, pharmacology, and anesthetics. Certification in Electronic Fetal Monitoring (C-EFM) tests your knowledge of electronic fetal monitoring.
In addition, Neonatal Resuscitation Program® (NRP®) incorporates hands-on training, case-based simulation, and debriefing. These simulations aim at instilling communication, teamwork, and leadership skills in nurses.
Becoming a Labor and Delivery Nurse
Are you looking to transition into a labor and delivery nurse? Here are tips that you’ll find helpful.
Become a registered nurse (RN)
Like every nurse specialty, you’ll need to be a licensed RN. The training acquired forms the foundation of your nursing career. To be a registered nurse, you must earn a degree in ADN, BSN, or ABSN.
For a quick start in the nursing career, you might want to opt for ADN. As stated earlier, many hospitals prefer BSN nurses.
However, you can work with your ADN degree so long you’ll obtain your BSN within a specified timeframe. When applying to hospitals, ensure you find out their requirements and preferences.
Think about your area of interest.
If you enjoy helping mothers birth their young ones or support new mothers, labor, and delivery might be your intended area of specialization. Ponder why you’re interested in L&D.
This consideration will help you make informed decisions.
Invest in further training.
While earning a nursing degree and acing your NCLEX, you need to learn continuously. Taking specialized certifications boosts employability.
These courses help broaden your knowledge about labor and delivery.
Shadow a nurse
Gaining more education and doing interviews seem reasonable, but nothing beats shadowing a professional nurse.
Shadowing or being tutored by an expert helps your learning experience, giving you a fresh perspective on your career path. If you’re familiar with the facility’s nurses, you can contact them to mentor you.
You can also ask the hospital’s HR for help regarding contacts to shadow. Ensure this is following the facility’s policy.
Join relevant associations
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) are health associations you should join as a labor and delivery nurse.
Joining these associations help broaden your knowledge about nursing through their resources and events. This boosts employability when applying for jobs.
If you want to collaborate with fellow L&D nurses, consider joining AWHONN.
This association supports overall growth, personal, career, and professional development.
To become a labor and delivery nurse, can you do an accelerated nursing program?
Yes, you can do an ABSN program. You should consider an accelerated nursing program if you’ve obtained a non-nursing degree and want to advance your career as an L&D nurse.
This is because it takes 12-24 months to complete the program.
ABSN program is a blend of two nursing programs (traditional and accelerated) with lots of hands-on labs, homework assignments, and clinical and in-person exams.
From the education requirements to salary structure, career opportunities, and tips to succeed as an L&D nurse, we guess we’ve been able to answer all your questions about labor and delivery nursing.
I wish you the best in your endeavors.