There’s no single path to your dream nursing career, but travel nursing can provide many great opportunities for you to consider. If you are thinking about becoming a Labor and Delivery (L&D) nurse, there are a few important steps you can take to ensure you’re headed in the right direction.
Labor and delivery is one of the most recognizable nursing specialties and one that many aspiring nurses wish to pursue. Like any other specialty, however, it has its challenges and rewards. So, before you decide, here is everything you need to know about L&D nursing.
Defined: Labor & Delivery Nurse
An L&D nurse is ready to bring new lives into the world. Their job is to help care for mothers and newborns before, during, and after the birth. Since it is an emotionally and physically intense time, patients look to these nurses for information, reassurance, and guidance in handling their delicate new life, new family member, and entirely new experience.
L&D nurses will care for many different kinds of patients—teen moms, older moms, women who’ve undergone fertility treatments, and even women who are incarcerated. L&D nurses often form unique bonds with patients and their families, as they’re one of the most consistent points of support while in the hospital and throughout the birthing process.
Skills And Role Responsibilities
As a Labor & Delivery nurse, you will need additional skills to accompany your medical knowledge, such as:
- Assertiveness: Things change quickly during labor, and the unexpected can arise. L&D nurses must be on their toes and serve as strong patient advocates.
- Open-Mindedness: Not every family is made the same way and has the same things, so it’s essential to treat all patients with the same care no matter the circumstances.
- Strong Communication: You need to communicate with the physician or other nursing staff to ensure your patients are as comfortable as possible.
- Empathy: This can be extremely stressful, so you need to try and understand how your patients feel emotionally and physically.
L&D nurses work with just a few patients per day, monitoring their progress and handling whatever new development comes their way. Besides the usual hand-holding, encouragement, and comforting going on in birthing rooms, the primary responsibilities of an L&D nurse include:
- Identifying and assisting with handling complications
- Provide psychological and emotional support
- Monitoring both the baby’s and mother’s vital signs, including heart rate and blood pressure
- Helping to administer medications and epidurals
How To Become An L&D Nurse
You must first become an RN, pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and gain at least one year of relevant experience. All facilities require L&D nurses to have advanced cardiac life support and basic life support certifications. Becoming certified in neonatal resuscitation and inpatient obstetric nursing (RNC-OB) will give you a significant advantage and bolster your resume even more.
If you’re not sure labor and delivery fits your personality, there are a few other options you can explore. Most L&D nurses can be seen in hospitals, stand-alone birthing centers, or patients’ homes. Post-partum (or mother-baby) nursing has a slower-paced environment, or you can try neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nursing if you’re all about babies. You can even continue your education to receive an MSN or DNP and become a Certified Nurse-Midwife.
Helping bring a child into the world is just one of the many benefits of being a labor and delivery nurse. You play a fundamental role in patients’ lives and help guide them to care for their new bundles of joy. If you want to start your journey, take a look at our job board.