Perinatal nurses are registered nurses who care for women through pre-conception, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, generally up until the newborn is at least a month old. One of the main tasks of these nurses is to provide education to pregnant women about their unborn child. They also teach labor and delivery courses and show the patient and their loved ones various techniques and methods which can help facilitate a healthy and stress-free pregnancy. Perinatal nurses work alongside obstetricians, perinatal nurse practitioners, and midwives to ensure that their patients are receiving the best care possible.
What Are Some Perinatal Nurse Duties?
Common duties that perinatal nurses are tasked with may include:
Collaborate with physicians and nurse midwives during labor
Assess and check the vital signs of the patient, identify any risk factors, and report them to the obstetrician
Educate patients and their loved ones on prenatal health, what they can expect during a pregnancy, child-birthing options, postpartum issues, and bonding techniques to use with their newborn
Perform blood and urine tests as well as fetal stress test monitoring
Supervise patient care technicians and surgical technicians
In the delivery room, support the pregnant woman throughout the course of labor and childbirth
Teach patients how to breastfeed post-partum
Provide guidance on postpartum issues like umbilical cord care, post-partum depression, and more
Where Do Perinatal Nurses Work?
Perinatal nurses are commonly found in OBGYN settings, caring for pregnant and/or laboring women. Typical employment areas may include:
Physicians' private practices
Home health services
Community health organizations
Adult education centers
How to Become a Perinatal Nurse
Prospective perinatal nurses must first earn an RN degree (ADN or BSN) and become licensed. New nurse grads benefit greatly gaining experience in a medical/surgical or labor and delivery unit for a year or two before moving onto the perinatal nursing specialty. After a nurse has gained some experience in the field, they can go on to acquire pertinent certification. Some prospective perinatal nurses will choose to continue with their education to earn a Master's of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN) to become a perinatal nurse practitioner or perinatal nurse specialist.
Step 1: Educational Requirements
To become a perinatal nurse, the following educational requirements must be met:
Earn an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
Take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
*Some employers will require prospective perinatal nurses to have completed MSN degrees and hold nurse practitioner credentials before hiring them.
Do Perinatal Nurses Need an RN Degree?
Yes, perinatal nurses are required to hold active and unrestricted RN licenses. The typical perinatal nurse will hold either an ADN or BSN degree.
Currently, the Perinatal Nursing certification (RN-BC) which is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is only available for renewal. However, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses offers various resources for prospective perinatal nurses like online continuing education credits.
The Nursing Credentialing Center also offers a number of certifications which prospective perinatal nurses may find useful such as:
As more individuals from the millennial generation - the largest generation since the baby boomers - begin to start families and have children, the demand for nurses in the maternal nursing sector will inevitably increase. This means perinatal nurses are uniquely positioned for increased opportunity and job security within their field in the coming years.
Job Description & Information
Essential Skills Needed - Commitment, patience, caring attitude, excellent interpersonal communication skills, a passion for babies and maternal nursing, ability to stay calm under pressure, quick decision-making skills, ability to multitask, flexibility, adaptability, strong assessment skills, attention to detail, documentation skills, ability to work long hours
Job Outlook - With the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting that available nursing jobs will rise by 16 percent through the year 2026, the job outlook for any specialty in the nursing field remains much more positive than most professions.
What Is the Average Salary of a Perinatal Nurse?
According to PayScale, the average annual salary for perinatal nurses is $70,228. Factors that will influence perinatal nurse salaries include their employer, the geographical location of their employment, their educational level, what credentials/certifications they hold, as well as the amount of experience in the field they have. In addition to their annual salaries, perinatal nurses generally receive generous benefits packages which often include medical insurance coverage, paid time-off, retirement plans, and much more.