Few nursing jobs are as rewarding as that of a labor and delivery nurse, who helps to guide new mothers through the stages of the birthing process as well as cares for infants in their first few hours of life. Unlike most nursing jobs that deal with patients who are ill, labor and delivery nurses get to work with families during a joyful time of their lives.
Most labor and delivery nurses are staff RNs or LPNs who work in a specified labor and birthing ward. However, in smaller hospitals with infrequent births, this position may be shared by general duty nurses. A successful labor and delivery nurse should have an affinity towards children and enjoy helping others. Good communication skills are key, as an important part of this job involves educating new parents on how to best care for their new baby.
Labor and delivery nurses can advance their career in positions such as head nurse, nursing supervisor and even Director of Nursing. Advancement requires job experience and, in some cases, a masters or doctorate degree.
Work Environment and Job Duties
The majority of labor and delivery nurses work in hospitals as staff nurses. Job responsibilities vary from taking care of mothers during labor, assisting in the birth, post-delivery care for both mothers and babies and educating parents on infant care. Some labor and delivery nurses also assist in the operating room with Cesarean deliveries.
Requirements and Education
To become a labor and delivery nurse, you must first become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN.) LPNs must successfully complete a one-year training course, offered at many hospitals and community colleges. Registered nurse candidates have several options. They can complete a certified nursing course or earn an Associates or Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited college or university. Both LPNs and RNs much pass a state licensing exam in order to practice.
Most nursing programs have at least one course on labor and delivery room nursing. However, most training for this position is gained on the job.
Salary and Career Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for registered nurses in all capacities is $69,690 or about $31 per hour. The average annual salary for LPNs is $40,380 or about $19.42 per hour. These numbers vary widely by region of the country, by work environment, by experience and by specialty. The average annual salary for a labor and delivery nurse is approximately $55,000, but again, this figure can vary dramatically depending on the exact job and location.
The BLS ranks nursing as one of the fastest growing jobs in the United States. They estimate that there will be approximately 711,900 new registered nursing jobs created in the next eight years and 168,500 new LPN jobs, growth rates of 26% and 22%, respectively.
So, if you’re looking for a dynamic, up-beat nursing job that involves children and families, perhaps a career as a labor and delivery nurse is right for you.