Labor & Delivery Nurse

What Is a Labor & Delivery Nurse?

While giving birth to a new life is a beautiful and natural process, it's not always without complications. Labor and delivery (L&D) nurses have one of the most important jobs in all of nursing - bringing new lives into this world. The primary task of L&D nurses is to deliver healthy newborn babies and see the mothers through the difficult process of childbirth safely. They coach mothers through contractions and offer encouragement and advice on how to get through the painful process more smoothly. L&D nurses also provide care and guidance to the mother in the immediate postpartum period. The role that L&D nurses play is incredibly important and can be highly rewarding.

What Are Some Labor & Delivery Nurse Duties?

Some of the duties of a Labor & Delivery Nurse include the following:

  • Monitor both the mother's and baby's vital signs continuously
  • Identify and assist with any possible complications
  • Time contractions
  • Communicate status of the mother and infant to members of the interdisciplinary healthcare team
  • Start IV lines
  • Help physicians administer medication and epidurals
  • Aid in inducing labor
  • Assist physicians in C-section procedures
  • Provide direct patient care to mother and infant
  • Provide education, advocacy, and care throughout the stages of childbirth
  • Assist and coach mothers throughout the duration of labor and delivery
  • Advocate for the physical, psychosocial, and emotional needs of the mother

Where Do Labor & Delivery Nurses Work?

L&D nurses work in maternity settings where babies are born. Workplace environments can include:

  • Hospitals
  • Birthing centers
  • Community healthcare clinics
  • Private obstetrics offices

How to Become a Labor & Delivery Nurse

Unlike traditional RN jobs where the kind of patient care administered can vary drastically, L&D nurses have basically one job - to care for and work with women who are giving birth. This means that L&D nurses will generally only work with a few patients per day, closely monitoring their condition, and dealing with any issues that may arise. L&D nurses can choose to work in a general hospital ward or work with higher-risk groups such as mothers with high-risk pregnancies, advanced maternal age, or mothers who are having complications with fetal development.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Before beginning your education to become an L&D nurse, you should be aware that this profession is wholly distinct from that of a midwife or doula. The first step on your educational journey towards becoming an L&D nurse is to enroll in an accredited college or university and earn your ADN or BSN degree. To be the most competitive candidate for a job application, it's recommended to go for the latter degree type. After you have successfully passed the NCLEX-RN exam and gained your RN license, the only thing left to do is to gain a couple of years of clinical experience within the obstetrics nursing specialty. When all of these steps have been completed, you then become eligible for certification as an Inpatient Obstetric Nurse (RNC-OB).

Do Labor & Delivery Nurses Need an RN Degree?

L&D nurses will need to hold an unencumbered, active RN license and have some experience in the field in order to obtain a specialty certification in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing. However, this certification isn't always required to work as an L&D nurse. An ADN degree will be required at minimum.

Step 2: Required Labor & Delivery Nurse Certifications/Credentials

L&D nurses will gain the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) certification through the National Certification Corporation. Additional certifications required of L&D nurses include Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certifications.

Eligibility requirements for the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) certification include:

  • Having an up-to-date and unrestricted RN license
  • At least two years (2,000 hours) of specialty experience (direct patient care, administration, research, or education) during your tenure as a nurse
  • Employment in the specialty field sometime during the previous 2 years

Labor & Delivery Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

The good news for anyone who is interested in working in L&D nursing is that the field is not going anywhere and will remain in demand for some time. Nothing is going to stop mothers from giving birth to newborns for the foreseeable future. With the aging population and so many nursing professionals approaching retirement age in the coming decade, the national shortage of nurses is also here to stay for the foreseeable future. Each year, more and more birthing centers are opening around the country. This should all be music to the ears of any nurses who are thinking about going into the labor and delivery sector.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Patience, empathy, critical-thinking skills, emotional stability, excellent interpersonal communication skills, attention to detail, compassion, assertiveness, stoicism, and familiarity with medical software
  • Job Outlook - The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth for RNs to increase by 16% between the years 2014 and 2024. This figure is well above the average projected growth rates for most other fields of employment. We should expect the projected employment outlook for L&D nurses to be similar to this 16% figure.

What Is the Average Salary of a Labor & Delivery Nurse?

According to PayScale, the average annual salary for L&D nurses is about $60,478. This figure will vary depending on factors like city and state of employment, years of experience, educational credentials and other certifications, and the employer. L&D nurses who are employed full-time can count on benefits packages which generally will include things like medical, dental, prescription, and possibly life insurance coverage. A couple to a few weeks of paid time off also isn't out of the norm. Again, these things will also depend on the employing organization.

How Much Do Labor & Delivery Nurses Make per Year?

  • $43,000 – $89,000 annually

How Much Do Labor & Delivery Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $30.64 average hourly wage

Labor & Delivery Nurse Resources