Most people love babies, from their chubby cheeks to their little toes. It takes a special type of person, however, to dedicate their life to the health and safety of these precious gifts. If this kind of nursing practice sounds right for you, a labor and delivery nursing career may be the right path for you. From helping pregnant women to assisting with the birthing process, this career in women’s health can be a very rewarding career choice.
If you’re passionate about helping pregnant women through safe, healthy pregnancies, then a career as a labor and delivery nurse may be the perfect path for you. Besides passion, though—how does one reach this goal? The process isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
Read on to learn more about how to become a labor and delivery nurse.
What Do Labor and Delivery Nurses Do?
Before you can commit to a nursing specialty, it’s important to fully grasp everything the job entails and what type of nursing care you’ll provide.
A labor and delivery nurse will typically work in the delivery wing of a hospital, though a smaller birthing center may also provide job opportunities. The most common tasks you’ll perform as a labor and delivery nurse include:
- General patient care for mothers and babies
- Checking mothers’ vitals
- Provide postoperative c-section care
- Assist doctors during delivery
- Communicate with patients and families before, during, and after childbirth
- Perform fetal heart and brain monitoring1
With all the complications that can occur during the birthing process, it’s crucial that a labor and delivery nurse is present at all times. The assistance provided by a nurse will keep both mother and infant safe, and help for a smooth delivery.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?
Becoming a nurse is no easy feat. Add on a specialty like labor and delivery, and you’re in for a bit of a journey when it comes to getting certified and obtaining the right degree form a nursing school. Fortunately, the process can be simplified if you take it step-by-step.
Step 1: Get Your Degree
The degree requirements for nursing positions can vary depending on the employer. There are essentially two paths nurses can take when it comes to their education:
- Associates Degree – Many people opt for an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) for their post-high school education. An ADN will typically take two years to complete and cost less in tuition than a Bachelor’s degree. Some employers may require candidates with an ADN to enroll in an accelerated program to obtain their Bachelor’s degree as well.
- Bachelor’s Degree – The lengthier option of the two is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Completing a BSN is usually done in four years and tuition tends to be pricier. The benefit of receiving a BSN is that applicants with this degree may have a greater advantage when applying for jobs.
Once you’ve received one of these degrees, the first step to becoming a labor nurse will be complete. At this point, you’ll move onto licensing.
Step 2: Become a Registered or Practical Nurse
A nursing degree isn’t the only requirement for becoming a registered nurse. In order to receive your nursing license, you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
The NCLEX is a rigorous exam that tests your knowledge of in-practice nursing skills. There are two different variations of the NCLEX:
- NCLEX-RN – This exam provides licensure for registered nurses (RN). An RN will typically work with a wider variety of patients and perform more duties. The NCLEX-RN tests these abilities through a range of 75 to 265 questions. You must answer at least 75% of these questions correctly in order to pass the NCLEX-RN.
- NCLEX-PN – This exam is licensure for practical nurses (PN). While a practical nurse can work in labor and delivery, they will always be overseen by a registered nurse. This means their duties can be a bit more limited. The NCLEX-PN can be a bit shorter, ranging from 85-205 questions. In order to pass, you’ll need to answer at least 67% of the questions correctly.2
Now that you’ve obtained your nursing license, you’re ready to start practicing. For labor and delivery nurses, however, this is not the end of the road. Additional certifications are required in order to enter this specific field.
Step 3: Labor and Delivery Certifications
Different types of nurses are required to obtain certificates in order to practice in a hospital. In the case of a labor and delivery registered nurse, it’s particularly important that they receive the proper training in order to perform their lifesaving procedures.
You’ll need to obtain-and regularly renew-the following certifications in order to work as this type of specialty nurse:
- Basic Life Support Certification – Also known as the BLS, the Basic Life Support Certification is required by the American Heart Association. This course teaches you to perform CPR on every age group, to ensure the safety of mother and baby.
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certification – The ACLS is essentially a more in-depth version of the BLS. This course teaches higher-quality CPR, chest compressions, and detection of cardiac arrest. These skills are vital in labor and delivery, due to the frequent heart complications that pregnancy can cause.
- Obstetric Nursing Certification – Though it’s not required, many practicing labor and delivery nurses choose to obtain an Obstetric Nursing Certification (RCN-OB). This certificate requires two years of experience in the field prior to taking the exam. A three-hour test is then administered, which specializes in labor, C-section procedures, and pregnancy-related medication. The average salary with an RCN-OB is typically much higher than that of a non-certified labor and delivery nurse.
Labor and delivery nurses may also be interested in obtaining additional certifications in order to expand their career opportunities. Some of the most common certifications for this kind of specialty nurse are:
- Electronic Fetal Monitoring – A certificate in electronic fetal monitoring (C-EFM) can be obtained by doctors, nurses, midwives, and paramedics. The purpose of this certificate is to provide pre-birth care and keep mother’s informed on the state of their pregnancy.
- Neonatal Resurrection Certification – This certificate is open to any medical professional involved in delivery. To receive this certification, you’ll be required to attend a course that focuses on resuscitating newborns and improving teamwork in the delivery room.
- Certified Nurse Midwife – A certified midwife is different from a labor and delivery nurse, though it is possible to obtain this certification. Becoming a midwife can take up to 8 years of education, consisting of a bachelor’s degree, nursing experience, and additional midwife training.
There are quite a few certifications when it comes to labor and delivery. It’s important that nurses in this field are fully trained and equipped to handle any issues related to birth, thus resulting in the large number of licenses required for this position.
What is the Starting Salary of a Labor and Delivery Nurse?
While loving your job is great, making a fair salary is important too.
If you’re considering a job in this field, you may be wondering: How much do labor and delivery nurses make? The figures can differ based on certain variables, but here are the basics every prospective nurse should know:
- Average nursing salary – The average nursing salary is about $42,000 per year in the United States.
- Average Labor and Delivery nursing salary – The average salary is significantly higher for labor and delivery nurses, at $66,000 per year.
- State-by-state salaries – Salaries for labor and delivery nurses will vary by state. The highest paying states for this field include:
- California – $113,240 per year.
- Hawaii – $104,060 per year.
- Washington D.C. – $94,820 per year.
- Massachusetts – $93,160 per year.
- Oregon – $92,960 per year.3
- Travel nursing – Travel nursing jobs can also provide a difference in salary. The average travel nurse can make up to $100,000 per year, depending on the assignments they take on.4
The bottom line: Specialty nurses will almost always make more money. Labor and delivery nurses are paid particularly well because of the high demand for trained professionals in this field. If you’re searching for a nursing practice that provides financial stability, labor and delivery is a great choice.
You’ll Be Delivering Babies in No Time
Now that you understand the ins and outs of becoming a nurse, you’re ready to start this journey. Though the process may become stressful at times, it’s important to remember why you’ve chosen this path. Working as a labor delivery nurse is one of the most fulfilling and vital jobs you can perform in the medical field. Once ou’re helping deliver your first baby, you’ll be thankful for all the hard work you put in to get there.
Become a Traveling Professional with Host Healthcare
Do you want to help deliver babies around the country? Host Healthcare can help.
As one of the leading travel healthcare companies in the United States, we can help you earn a steady paycheck while seeing new and exciting cities. The process is simple—all you have to do is apply as a labor and delivery nurse, and then get paired with a recruiter. Before long, you could be setting your sights on new horizons.
Bring your helping hands to every corner of the country, and apply to be a traveling nurse with Host Healthcare today!
- “How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse – Salary || RegisteredNursing.Org.” RN Programs – Registered Nurse || RegisteredNursing.Org, RegisteredNursing.org, https://www.registerednursing.org/specialty/labor-and-delivery-nurse/. Accessed 8 Jan. 2021.
- UWorld Nursing. 2021. What Is The Difference Between The NCLEX-PN® And The NCLEX-RN® Exam? | Uworld Nursing. [online] Available at: https://nursing.uworld.com/blog/nclex/what-is-the-difference-between-the-nclex-pn-and-the-nclex-rn-exam/. Accessed 9 January 2021.
- Nurse.org. 2021. 4 Steps To Becoming A Labor And Delivery Nurse. [online] Available at: https://nurse.org/resources/labor-and-deliver-nurse-salary-career-path. Accessed 9 January 2021.
- Nurse.org. 2021. What Does A Travel Nurse Do?. [online] Available at: https://nurse.org/articles/how-to-make-the-most-money-as-a-travel-nurse. Accessed 9 January 2021.