How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse in 2023
- What You Will Do: Labor and delivery nurses guide expectant mothers through the childbirth process. Duties include monitoring vital signs of mother and baby, administering medications, assisting during labor and delivery, and providing education and support to families before, during, and after birth.
- Where You Will Work: Labor and delivery nurses typically work in hospitals, particularly in maternity and birthing units. Other potential workplaces include birthing centers and, on occasion, home birth settings.
- Employment Projections: The job outlook for labor and delivery nurses is encouraging. As part of the larger nursing field, labor and delivery nurses should see continued demand for their specialized skills, driven by ongoing needs for healthcare services.
- How Much Will You Earn: The earnings for labor and delivery nurses can depend on a variety of factors such as geographic location, level of experience, and education. As of 2021, the median annual wage for registered nurses was around $73,300. Labor and delivery nurses may earn more due to their specialization.
- How Long Does it Take to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse: After earning an RN degree (2-4 years) and passing the NCLEX-RN exam, an aspiring labor and delivery nurse usually gains clinical experience in obstetric nursing and may pursue further certification, such as the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) or Electronic Fetal Monitoring (C-EFM) certifications. This can take an additional 1-2 years.
- Requirements to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse: To become a labor and delivery nurse, one must first earn an RN degree and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Subsequent steps often involve gaining clinical experience in obstetric settings and obtaining a specialized certification in obstetric nursing.
If you’ve visited a friend or family member after they’ve given birth, chances are that you’ve encountered the nurse who assisted with the delivery and provided care to both the mother and baby in the immediate postpartum period. From your personal experience, you may also know that the labor and delivery (L&D) RN takes care of laboring mother through all stages of labor.
What is a Labor and Delivery Nurse
Villanova University notes that the L&D RN cares for the laboring mother during all four stages of labor: antepartum, intrapartum, postpartum and neonatal. Not only do they provide nursing care, but they also provide emotional support and education to both the mother and significant other.
Labor and Delivery Nurse
What Does a Labor and Delivery Nurse Do
As with any RN job, the day-to-day duties will vary depending on the amount of laboring mothers present on the unit and any complications that may arise with deliveries.
The L&D RN is responsible for monitoring the laboring mother during delivery, such as fetal heart rate and mother’s vital signs, coaching and also providing emotional support. He or she may also provide support to the significant other or person who is present through delivery with the laboring mother. He or she must also have critical thinking skills so that complications can be detected early and early treatment can be initiated if labor goes awry.
He or she may also have to assist with Cesarean sections. In addition, the L&D RN takes care of the baby in the immediate postpartum period, assessing the APGAR score. After delivery, the L&D RN is responsible for education of the family on many aspects of childcare – from breastfeeding/formula feeding, to bathing, to proper restraining in a car seat. On any given shift, the L&D RN may perform any or all of these tasks.
How Do I Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse
The minimum education for the L&D RN is typically an ADN degree. This requirement may vary based on the institution of employment. Johnson & Johnson notes that while the minimum job requirement is typically an ADN, it is often recommended that the L&D RN become certified, working towards obtaining their Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) certification through the Nursing Certification Corporation.
Labor and Delivery Nurse Salary
Salaries for labor and delivery nurses can vary considerably based on factors such as geographical location, experience level, and the specific institution of employment. The median annual wage for registered nurses, encompassing all specialties, was around $73,300 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, labor and delivery nurses often earn more than the median wage for registered nurses due to their specialized skills and the demanding nature of their work.
For a comprehensive and current state-specific breakdown of registered nursing salaries, including labor and delivery nurses, refer to this overview of Registered Nursing salaries. This resource can provide detailed information on the compensation you can expect in your specific location and circumstances.
While salary is a significant consideration in your career choice, it’s also important to take into account other factors such as job satisfaction, work-life balance, and opportunities for career progression.
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Labor and Delivery Nurse Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that job outlook for labor and delivery nurses is favorable. As a specialized branch of nursing, labor and delivery nurses are expected to see continued demand for their unique skills and expertise. This demand is driven by the ongoing need for healthcare services, particularly those related to childbirth.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected employment growth for registered nurses from 2019 to 2029 was 7%, which is faster than the average for all occupations. As of 2021, it was expected that this growth trend would also apply to labor and delivery nurses.
For the most accurate, up-to-date, and state-specific job outlook data, refer to resources such as this overview of projected demand for nursing professions.
It’s important to consider job security and growth potential when choosing a career, but these should be weighed alongside other factors such as personal interest, job satisfaction, and the potential for personal and professional development.
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Krystina is an RN with a varied background. She has worked on a telemetry unit, an allergy/immunotherapy clinic and is currently working in diabetes education, pursuing her Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) certification. She has traveled the long road to her bachelor’s degree – she began her nursing career as an LPN, graduating from a local university. She pursued first her ADN, then BSN from Excelsior College.