As you look into different directions in your nursing career, you may want to learn what a labor and delivery nurse does. While the quick and obvious answer might be “helping to deliver babies,” there are many other things that a labor and delivery nurse does to help both mothers and babies before, during and after birth.
The Important Role of a Labor and Delivery Nurse
While birth is a beautifully natural process, it’s not always complication free. Labor and delivery nurses are trained to assess and provide different levels of care for mothers and babies in various stages of the birth process, according to Nurse Source. Sometimes mothers have complications during pregnancy, and labor and delivery nurses can provide care for mothers during those important times, especially if the mother ends up needing to be in hospital. Labor and Delivery nurses also work with mothers in labor, to assist in the births of babies. They also manage care in the OR if a baby needs to be delivered by C-section, including sometimes working as a scrub nurse for the doctor performing the surgery. They may also give care to mothers and babies in the aftermath of birth, helping provide encouragement and education about newborn care to the parents.
Education and Training
A labor and delivery nurse must be a registered nurse. Some RNs hold diplomas or associate’s level degrees, while others hold a bachelor’s degree. More nurses are being encouraged to go on to BSN degrees today, which will provide them with more skills and open up career possibilities. If you know you are interested in working in labor and delivery after graduation, you will want to choose some elective courses that will help you learn related skills. In addition to being an RN, labor and delivery nurses need to be trained in fetal monitoring and neonatal resuscitation. After you’ve worked for a couple of years in an area of specialty, such as postpartum nursing, you can take exams for a specialty certification. If you stay in the field of labor and delivery, you may eventually want to go on and become an advance practice nurse, which would require a master’s level degree.
Types of Work Settings and Needed Skills
Many labor and delivery nurses work in hospitals, but others work in birthing centers, doctor’s offices or clinics. The scope of an labor and delivery nurse may be larger in smaller hospitals, where nurses sometimes have to carry a wider variety of tasks, and more compartmentalized in larger hospitals that have more people power. In addition to your training, you will need good communication skills and the ability to think clearly in potentially stressful situations in order to be effective in this field.
Related Resource: Become a Surgical Nurse
While nursing jobs of all kinds can be highly rewarding, some nurses express especially deep satisfaction from working in the field of labor and delivery, according to Nurse Zone. They appreciate having the opportunity to assist in bringing new life into the world, and being a help and encouragement to parents going through this incredible milestone which can nonetheless sometimes be a stressful experience. What a labor and delivery nurse does is an important and satisfying job.