Delivering a healthy baby is a complex process where multiple health care professionals must monitor the state of the mother and the baby to ensure that both parties are functioning normally without complications. Labor and delivery nurses in particular work with women who are in labor to make certain that the process goes smoothly. They coach the pregnant woman through the steps of giving birth, such as timing the woman’s contractions and helping her with breathing exercises as well as helping other nurses or physicians administer pain medications if needed. Labor and delivery nurses may also help doctors deliver the baby and provide basic care for the mother and child before they leave the hospital.
Labor and delivery nurses must be registered nurses (RNs) who are trained and educated in delivery and infant care. RNs must complete either a diploma program from a nursing school, an associate degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Those wishing to specialize in labor and delivery must be sure to take classes related to prenatal, infant and delivery care during their degree program. After graduating from the nursing program, prospective nurses take the NCLEX-RN, which upon completion, the nurses will be licensed RNs. Labor and delivery nurses then can seek certification in either postpartum nursing, fetal monitoring or nursery work before joining a health care facility’s delivery team.
With the advancement of health care technology, more infants suffering from conditions that would have previously been deemed fatal can now be delivered. With more babies being born, as evidenced by the boom in population numbers, labor and delivery nurses will be in high demand to tend to these birthing processes. Labor and delivery nurses earn differing salaries depending on their work experience. For example, the average wage for nurses with four years of experience is $21.49 per hour, while the average wage for nurses with five years of experience is $25.02 per hour, according to PayScale, a company that specializes in compensation data.