How Do I Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?
Nursing is undoubtedly one of the broadest fields in the world. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that it has several specialties that registered nurses can focus on. One of such specialized areas is labor and delivery nursing.
But what is a labor and delivery nurse? What does a labor and delivery nurse do? Are there labor and delivery nurse jobs for qualified nurses? How can you become a delivery nurse? These are some of the questions that this article will answer.
What is a labor and delivery nurse?
In simple terms, a labor and delivery (L&D) nurse is a registered nurse who has been specially trained to assist women to deliver their babies.
A delivery nurse doesn’t administer drugs or do any other thing to help sick individuals, but she rather focuses on working with pregnant women that want to give birth. Since childbirth is a common occurrence in all places around the world, labor and delivery nurses often have relatively busy schedules.
Becoming a labor and delivery nurse often follows a particular path, but this can sometimes differ from one region or country to another.
In most cases, a labor and delivery nurse works in hospitals as well as birthing centers in different parts of the country.
However, some also have experiences in other areas that assist them to work in communities to support other issues such as healthy childbirth, lactation, and healthy maternal outcomes.
What are the roles of a labor and delivery nurse?
Having explained what a delivery nurse is, it is paramount to describe the roles of such a nurse. Typically, an L&D nurse is expected to do the following things:
- Help to induce labor
As a mother is about to give birth, it may be important for medical professionals to induce labor. In most situations, an L&D nurse will play a key role in inducing labor.
- Time contractions
Contractions are important aspects of childbirth and must be timed accurately. Labor and delivery nurses are often saddled with the responsibility of timing contractions.
- Assist mothers through labor and delivery
Regardless of the experience of a mother, a delivery nurse will also be on standby to coach her as she labors and gives birth. During this period, she may also need to encourage, comfort, and hold the mother’s hands as she delivers her baby.
- Detect and aid in the handling of any complications
Unfortunately, many mothers often experience complications during childbirth. An L&D nurse is responsible for identifying the complications on time so that necessary assistance can be provided. Also, the nurse will assist in dealing with the identified complications.
- Administer epidurals and other medications
Epidurals are often administered to ease the process of childbirth. An L&D nurse is usually the medical professional that will administer epidurals and other medications that the mother or baby may need.
- Monitor a baby and its mother
A labor and delivery nurse is in charge of monitoring the blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs of both the mother and baby.
Based on the roles highlighted above, the labor and delivery nurse jobs start before the time of labor and extend to the period that the mother leaves the hospital or birthing center. Notably, based on the circumstances or complications surrounding childbirth, the roles of a labor and delivery nurse may be more complex than what is described above.
Is it hard to become a labor and delivery nurse?
Of course, nothing good comes easy. Hence, you must expect some difficulties on your way to becoming a labor and delivery nurse. Nonetheless, if you are determined and focused, becoming an L&D nurse shouldn’t be too difficult for you to achieve.
What are the steps to become a labor and delivery nurse?
Now, let’s move to the crux of the matter and explain how you can become a labor and delivery nurse. Below is a step-by-step guide to becoming an L&D nurse:
1. Obtain a Nursing Degree
The first step to becoming an L&D nurse is to get a nursing degree. In general, this may differ from one employer or location to another. However, there are usually two ways to do this.
Foremost, you can obtain an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN). Since it requires only two years, getting an Associates Degree in Nursing is a faster and more affordable way to become a nurse.
The second option you can consider is to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Although this option is more expensive and more time-consuming, it tends to be better recognized and more financially rewarding in the long run.
Also, in some nursing schools, a person with an Associates Degree in Nursing may be offered an accelerated pathway to getting a BSN.
2. Become a practical or registered nurse
After getting a nursing degree, you need to take an exam to be licensed to practice nursing. This exam is called the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
This difficult test examines your ability to practice as a nurse in any place you find yourself. Generally, there are two types.
The first one is called NCLEX-RN, which is meant for registered nurses. A registered nurse is believed to be well-trained; hence, they have lots of duties. To pass this examination, you are expected to get at least 75% of the total obtainable score.
The second exam is known as NCLEX-PN, which is for practical nurses.
A practical nurse has to get at least 67% of the total obtainable score for NCLEX-PN. Notably, practical nurses don’t perform as many duties as registered nurses. They can also work as labor and delivery nurses but under the monitoring of a registered nurse.
3. Get some labor and delivery certifications
Since labor and delivery nursing is a specialty, getting a nursing license is not enough to become an L&D nurse. So, you need to get other certifications that are primarily focused on labor and delivery practices.
The most important labor and delivery certifications include:
4. Basic Life Support Certification (BLS)
BLS is a fundamental certification that helps you to learn how to carry out CPR on people of different age groups. This certification is a basic requirement by the American Heart Association.
5. Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certification
As the name suggests, Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification is an advanced program for labor and delivery nurses. It focuses on how to detect cardiac arrest, offer chest compressions, and provide top-notch CPR. With these skills, you will be able to handle heart complications that many expectant mothers usually have during labor and delivery.
6. Obstetric Nursing Certification
This certification is for assessing your understanding of C-section procedures, labor, and pregnancy-related medications. Notably, you can get labor and delivery nurse jobs without Obstetric Nursing Certification.
In addition to the certifications described above, you may also want to get:
- Nurse Midwife certification
- Electronic Fetal Monitoring certificate
- Neonatal Resurrection certification, etc.
Once you have done everything above, you are qualified to become a labor and delivery nurse in hospitals, birthing centers, etc. Also, if you are already a registered nurse in the UK, the UAE, Germany, South Africa, or other countries around the world, you can use your degree to work in the United States of America. As a foreign-trained and registered nurse, you only need to take a few steps to start practicing in the US. If you are interested in this offer, don’t hesitate to get in touch with International Recruiters today.
How long does it take to become a labor and delivery nurse?
Generally, you need to school for about three or four years to become a registered nurse in most countries. However, you may need to spend additional years to obtain other certifications, masters’ degrees, or doctorate required to be an experienced labor and delivery nurse.
What is the average delivery and labor nurse salary?
Considering the time and effort required to become a delivery nurse, the labor and delivery nurse jobs are well-paying. On average, a delivery & labor nurse salary is around $75,330 per year in the United States of America. Based on your location, certifications, experience, and skills, you can earn significantly more than this. For instance, if you are in California, the average delivery and labor nurse salary is around $120,000 per year. In Hawaii, Oregon, or Massachusetts, you can earn around $100,000 annually as a labor and delivery nurse.
Therefore, becoming a delivery nurse is worthwhile for anyone.
What can you expect as you become a delivery nurse?
When becoming an L&D nurse, you should expect the following:
- Learning and training on the job are important to boost your experience and skills.
- Always be ready to use your inner strength to take care of your patients.
- Day-to-day activities in this role differ based on the conditions of your patients.
- Challenges are bound to come but don’t be intimated by them.
In conclusion, becoming a labor and delivery nurse is quite straightforward but challenging and time-consuming. However, it is a great career for any interested individual.