Labor and Delivery nurses have been on the rise recently. What makes this career path so enticing and what are the steps one should take before landing a labor and delivery nurse? To become a labor and delivery nurse, you have to earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to be a registered nurse (RN) before you proceed to specialize.
Steps on How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse
Labor and delivery nurses play quite an essential role in the healthcare system. As stated above, to be a labor and delivery nurse, you must be well-educated and pass an exam.
Below are 4 steps to take to become a labor and delivery nurse:
1. Earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN)
A nursing degree is necessary to become a labor and delivery nurse. An associate degree in nursing (ADN) is a pathway to becoming a registered nurse. Associate degrees usually last for two years and educate aspiring nurses for professions in healthcare.
Another pathway to landing a job as a labor and delivery nurse is by earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). A BSN degree takes 4 years in total but will most likely open you to more job opportunities if you want to work as a labor and delivery nurse.
Realistically, most employers tend to prioritize BSN-prepared nurses for labor and delivery positions. Also, having a BSN will most likely result in increased responsibilities at work, which translates to higher pay.
2. Pass the NCLEX exam and become a registered nurse (RN).
After earning a nursing degree, you will take the National Council Licensing Exam (NCLEX). Passing the exam proves that you understand medical competence and are prepared to become a registered nurse.
A BSN program is the surest path to ensure you pass the NCLEX exam as it prepares you for it. The NCLEX exam consists mostly of multiple-choice questions with four potential answers.
3. Obtained license as a registered nurse
The next stage in becoming a labor and delivery nurse is often state licensing. Each state’s nursing board is responsible for ensuring that nurses working in that state are adequately trained and qualified to provide the best possible care to patients.
The standards for licensure differ depending on the type of nursing job and the state. Typically, applying for a state license requires the following:
- Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN)
- Official transcripts
- A passing NCLEX exam score (which is determined by each state board)
- The application fees
- Record of clinical experience
State labor and delivery nursing licenses must be renewed every two years. This procedure may require you to provide verification of hours worked and fulfillment of continuing education hours.
4. Improve Credentials With an RNC-OB certification (optional)
This step is optional but highly recommended if you want to stand out in the labor and delivery nursing sector. This qualification can equip registered nurses to deal with vulnerable expecting moms who are hospitalized before, during, or following childbirth.
With this credential, you may find yourself working directly with women with high-risk pregnancies, premature babies, cesarean section births, and other obstacles. Obtaining an RNC-OB certificate indicates a high degree of expertise in fetal examination, patient education, pregnancy issues, labor and delivery, and infant care.
5. Consider getting a master’s degree in nursing (optional)
This step is also optional, like the step discussed above. Pursuing an advanced degree will help you acquire additional training and also have broader job options. This easily translates to labor and delivery nurse career options with greater responsibility and better remuneration.
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can lead to a variety of advanced nursing positions, including:
- Nurse Administrator
- Nurse Educator
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Certified Nurse-Midwife
What Is a Labor and Delivery Nurse?
Labor and delivery nurses employ their clinical skills to ensure the safety of pregnant women and their babies throughout labor, birth, and postpartum.
Because each patient’s requirements vary, labor and delivery nurses collaborate with doctors to develop culturally and age-appropriate care plans. Labor and delivery nurses perform specific clinical activities such as monitoring fetal heart tones, detecting dangers to pregnant women and babies, and reviewing labor progress.
They may also help in the operating room during cesarean sections, provide drugs, and offer emotional support.
What Does a Labor and Delivery Nurse Do?
Labor and delivery nurses collaborate with obstetricians and gynecologists to assist expectant mothers in birthing their babies. They excel in creating pleasant, safe environments for pregnant moms throughout pregnancy and childbirth.
L&D nurses form personal relationships with their patients in order to offer them tailored, specialized care. Unlike many other types of nurses, they maintain a minimal caseload so that each mother receives the time and attention she requires during her journey.
Below are the major responsibilities and roles of labor and delivery nurses:
- Monitoring and timing contractions throughout labor and delivery.
- Providing women with information on what to expect at various stages of pregnancy.
- Epidurals and other drugs are used to help mothers manage pain during childbirth.
- Monitoring the mother’s vital signs and the baby’s heart rate.
- Evaluating possibly harmful consequences of widely used drugs during labor and delivery.
- Communicating with the doctor to offer timely and accurate information.
- Assisting the doctor with initiating labor.
- Providing assistance, encouragement, and comfort during pregnancy and childbirth.
- Identifying problems and informing a doctor.
- Preparing for cesarean (c-section) births, particularly emergency c-sections.
- Coaching moms on breastfeeding and baby care.
What Skills Does a Labor and Delivery Nurse Need?
Labor and delivery nurses have a rare chance to assist in creating new life.
Below are the major skills required to thrive as a labor and delivery nurse
1. Medical skills
Labor and delivery nurses must have substantial medical knowledge since they are responsible for giving drugs, assessing vital signs, preparing for medical emergencies, and diagnosing difficulties during the birthing process.
Having a baby may be a source of sheer joy and excitement, but there are often challenges and even tragedies. Thus, labor and delivery nurses must be able to sympathize with the whole range of patient experiences.
Labor and delivery nurses work in teams with nurse-midwives and physicians, and it is critical for their patient’s health and comfort that they collaborate well.
4. Communication and interpersonal skills
Bringing a new human into the world is a stressful process, and parents must digest a lot of information fast. Thus, it is the L&D nurse’s role to be a highly clear and effective communicator. Similarly, in the delivery room, L&D nurses must interact well with other healthcare professionals to ensure that the childbirth process goes successfully.
Quick and effective decision-making skills
If complications arise, such as the mother bleeding excessively or the baby’s umbilical cord being in a dangerous position, birth plans can change quickly, so labor and delivery nurses must be able to remain calm and collected in order to assist the physician in making quick decisions and keeping patients safe.
What are the Differences Between Labor and Delivery Nurses and Midwives
It is common for most people to refer to labor and delivery nurses as midwives. More so, if you are contemplating both as a career path, you might find yourself at a crossroads. Most especially given that both labor and delivery nurses and certified nurse midwives are both registered nurses. Also, both roles need specific training and certification in the care of pregnant women. However, there are some crucial differences between labor and delivery nurses and midwives.
Firstly, midwives care for women before and throughout their pregnancy, but labor and delivery nurses are often confined to providing care during labor and delivery and, in certain cases, soon after birth.
When the baby is ready to be born, labor and delivery nurses notify the doctor. Midwives must complete training and certification as certified nurse-midwives. Labor and delivery nurses are not needed to obtain this qualification. Nurse midwife degrees are frequently pursued via master’s in nursing schools.
How Much Do Labor and Delivery Nurses Earn?
In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual pay for all licensed nursing professions was $75,330. Labor and delivery nurse pay can vary greatly depending on a variety of criteria, including the kind of medical institution, area compensation trends, amount of professional experience, and the skills and credentials brought by the candidate.
Conclusion: How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse
There you have it, a step-by-step guide on how to be a labor and delivery nurse. Given the high demand for nurses worldwide, this is a fantastic career path to pursue!
FAQs on How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse
What degree is best for a labor and delivery nurse?
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the best degree for labor and delivery nurses as it is more intensive than Associate’s degree in nursing (ADN)
How long does it take to labor and delivery nurse?
It takes 2-4 years to become a labor and delivery nurse. Note that this timeframe is dependent on whether you decide to pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
What college is best for labor and delivery nurses?
Some of the best colleges for labor and delivery nurses are Johns Hopkins University, Texas Tech University, and Duke University.
What is the difference between a maternity nurse and a labor and delivery nurse?
Maternity nurses generally provide care to expectant mothers before and after childbirth, while labor and delivery nurses specifically focus on the childbirth process itself.