Why Labor and Delivery Nurses Love Their Job

No matter how many times an individual has given birth, mothers rely on nurses for information, reassurance, and guidance in the first few days of their babies’ lives. Nurses in labor and delivery, mother baby, NICU, and neonatal specializations understand how to respond to highly emotional situations with compassion and kindness and answer questions with honesty, all while caring for the health and well-being of mothers and babies.

What is it about labor and delivery that makes it such an attractive career choice? For many, it’s the competitive salary and in-demand job opportunities, while for others it’s witnessing the miracle of life and advocating for mothers and their babies. 

If you’re interested in labor and delivery nursing, here’s the scoop on L&D nurse jobs, the benefits of working in this specialty, and what you can expect for career prospects for new and current nurses.

How To Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse

Becoming a labor and delivery nurse will take time, education, and commitment. It will generally take you two to four years, depending on your current licensure. You will also need to build clinical experience before you’ll find a nursing career in labor and delivery. 

Education and Certification

You will need to obtain a two or four-year college degree in nursing as well as a registered nurse (RN) license. Clinical experience is also essential, and many employers will require that you hold a current certification in life support and advanced cardiac life support (both common credentials for RNs in general). You might choose to earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Either way will get you started on the road to taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). 

Once you’ve passed the NCLEX to receive your RN licensure, you’ll need to start gaining experience as an obstetric nurse. Whether you earn a job in the maternity ward of a hospital or with an OB-GYN, you’ll need several years under your belt before you are part of the labor and delivery team. 

It’s also a good idea to get certified in the labor and delivery specialty, as you can negotiate a higher RN salary and are more likely to be hired in labor and delivery at hospitals across the country. 

Job Responsibilities

There are four stages of childbirth care that labor and delivery nurses participate in, including antepartum, intrapartum, postpartum, and neonatal. Their general responsibilities during each stage will include:

Antepartum (The period between conception and labor)

  • Monitoring both the mother and baby
  • Performing ultrasounds
  • Providing support to expectant mothers
  • Taking vital signs

Intrapartum (The period of active labor, delivery of child, and placenta)

  • Supporting the mother during the birthing process
  • Assisting doctors in delivery
  • Learning how to assist in any kind of delivery: cesarean/C-section, vaginal, or breach
  • Troubleshooting complications
  • Addressing emergencies
  • Preparing for care

Postpartum (An undefined period after delivery with a focus on care for the mother)

  • Listening to and supporting mothers
  • Communicating mental and physical changes that come with childbirth to new mothers
  • Validating trauma to both body and mind of the mother
  • Supplying or sourcing necessary support (such as requesting lactation consultants or mental health providers)

Neonatal (An undefined period after delivery with a focus on care for the baby)

  • Covering low-risk care
  • Assisting with ventilation
  • Providing preterm and post-op care for infants with a high risk of mortality

Labor and Delivery Team

Labor and delivery nurses partner with nurses and clinicians in other specialties to support and care for their patients (both the mother and newborn). These partners include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Obstetricians and gynecologists
  • Neonatal intensive care (NICU) teams
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Cardiologists
  • Mother baby nurses

Labor and Delivery Settings

While you might immediately picture a large hospital with a sprawling maternity ward, there are other locations where labor and delivery nurses are needed. 

Dedicated healthcare centers that focus on mothers and babies, birthing centers, often need L&D nurses. Generally, these facilities will focus on a wellness-centric approach to the birthing process. L&D nurses may serve as doulas or midwives in these facilities.

Many families choose to have a home birth that is assisted by a midwife or doula. Nurses provide essential support and care in home births, as they can help guide mother and child through the process while watching for (and assisting with) emergency conditions. 

Why Labor and Delivery?

Labor and delivery nurses will experience the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows in healthcare. Despite the difficulties that come with any healthcare career, many nurses who work in labor and delivery love their jobs. And there’s a lot to love about L&D nursing. 

Labor and delivery nurses are in high demand. There are nearly 3.6 million births recorded in the United States every year, and most of those births are assisted by a labor and delivery nurse. That brings a significant amount of job security to the career path as well as the ability to negotiate for better pay. 

The national average salary for an L&D nurse, according to Vivian, is about $50 an hour which is 9% higher than the nursing U.S. average. This usually comes with good benefits and support within the hospital or birthing center where they work. 

There are opportunities to work as a labor and delivery nurse all across the country, whether you choose a permanent position or choose to work as a travel nurse. If you’re looking to work as a travel labor and delivery nurse, you can choose the state that most appeals to you, whether that’s based on pay or the opportunity to explore a new location. 

Pay, salary, and job security aside, many labor and delivery nurses speak fondly about the incredible fulfillment they get at work. Assisting parents as they bring new life into the world brings these nurses a lot of happiness.

Labor and Delivery Jobs with SHC

There are thousands of jobs available for registered nurses every year, and many of them are in labor and delivery. If you’re looking for an area to specialize in that brings job security, L&D might be the right place for you.
If you’re looking for a new nursing position or want to experience the adventure of travel nursing, Supplemental Health Care is here to support you. Our experienced recruiters can help you find your dream position in labor and delivery, where you can assist mothers and their newborns during a critical time in their lives. Contact SHC today to learn more!