What is a Labour and Delivery Nurse?
A labour and delivery nurse is a registered nurse who serves as the primary caregiver for women through every birthing process, from the onset of labour to patient discharge. They are primarily responsible for caring for the pregnant patient and child through the final steps of childbirth — dilation of the cervix, delivery of the baby, afterbirth where the mother pushes out the placenta, and recovery.
Regardless of whether it’s the happiest or most challenging moment of a parent’s life, the labour and delivery nurse plays a crucial role in every step of this unforgettable experience.
Labour and Delivery Nurse Career in Brief
Labour and delivery (L&D) nurses are also known as obstetric nurses (OB), and they play a pivotal role in helping pregnant women transition to their parents. It is the job of an L&D nurse to care for mothers and infants before, during, and after birth. They must be exceptionally good at communication and empathetic to the parent’s physical and psychological needs.
Although the duties of an L&D nurse vary based on working facility, location, and patient population, here are the skills and responsibilities of a labour and delivery nurse;
Must-have Soft Nursing Skills for a Labour and Delivery Nurse
- Exceptional relationship building and communication skills
- Excellent stamina
- Compassionate and empathetic
- Good sense of humour
- Calm and practical demeanour
Responsibilities of a Labour and Delivery Nurse
- Monitor patients before, during, and after labour.
- Aid in inducing labour.
- Administer pain medication as ordered
- Administer medication to address specific medical conditions, like diabetes and hypertension.
- Take and record patient vital signs, and alert the physician if problematic.
- Start IV lines
- Aid doctor throughout the birthing process
- Assist in surgery in the event of a c-section
- Guide and assist in the immediate care of newborns
- Provide encouragement and support
- Keep other family members informed of the progression of birth
Where do Labour and Delivery Nurses work?
The most common workplace for labour and delivery nurses are hospitals. Here, L&D nurses work in triage rooms, antepartum rooms, the operating room, the labour room, hospital nurseries, and neonatal care units.
Labour and delivery nurses function as midwives in birthing centres, a healthcare facility that provides maternity care to families who don’t require hospitalisation.
Some families choose home birth for personalised care and minimal intervention. Here, the roles of L&D nurses are similar to their function at birthing centres.
Highest paying countries for Labour and Delivery Nurses
The amount of information about L&D nurses salaries in specific countries and cities is abundant, and there are many discrepancies between different sources for comparison. According to information gotten from SalaryExpert, below are the top five countries that pay labour and delivery nurses the highest:
United States: Labour and delivery nurses in the USA earn between $57,893 (€51,102) and $100,568 (€88,772) annually across the United States.
Luxembourg: Entry-level L&D nurses in Luxembourg (1-3 years of experience) earn an average salary of € 58,440. On the other end, senior-level L&D nurses (8+ years) earn €101,518 annually.
Australia: L&D nurses in Australia earn an average annual salary of AUD 103,696 (€66,358) or an equivalent hourly rate of AUD 50 (€32).
Denmark: The average labour and delivery nurse salary in Horsens, Denmark, is 515,452 kr. (€50,186), equivalent to 248 kr. (€24). They also earn an average bonus of 8,247 kr. (€803).
Canada: Labour and delivery nurses in Canada earn an average salary between $61,811 (42,648) to $107,375 (74,087).
How to become a labour and delivery nurse
Step 1: Earn your nursing degree
The first step to becoming a labour and delivery nurse is obtaining an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor in Science of Nursing (BSN) from an accredited program. As with all other nursing specialities, employers prefer to hire candidates with a higher education degree, so earning a BSN is highly recommended.
Step 2: Become a Registered Nurse
After obtaining your degree, you must pass the NCLEX exam to gain licensure and become a registered nurse. Some states require you to renew your licence every 2-3 years.
Step 3: Gain Labour and Delivery Experience
While the requirements to become an L&D nurse technically end at getting your licence, you will need to gain work experience in a hospital’s labour and delivery unit, clinics, physician offices, maternity centres, or birthing centres.
Step 4: Get a Job
The last and final step to becoming an L&D nurse is getting a job.
Most employers find and hire labour and delivery nurses through online labour marketplaces like Velju, a free platform that connects them to job seekers registered on the app.
What’s the required training and education?
Labour and delivery nurse requires an ADN or BSN degree from an accredited program and passes the NCLEX-RN to become recognized as a registered nurse.
Also, many employers require that all labour and delivery nurses have:
- Minimum of one year of labour and delivery experience.
- Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) training.
- Education in Neonatal resuscitation and foetal monitoring.
In addition to your education, most states require L&D nurses to take continuing education courses to renew their licence. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) help build on their experience, and most states require about 20 CEUs every two years to renew licensure.
How long will my education take?
Depending on which path you take, it takes between three to four years you complete a BSN program. However, many labour and delivery nurses move further to pursue masters and doctoral degrees, typically taking another two to four years.
Labour and delivery nursing can be the most rewarding job, yet, difficult is an understatement when qualifying the profession.
As an L&D nurse, you take care of two patients at a time, the mother and the baby, which can be extremely difficult.
Also, many complications can arise during childbirth, and what was supposed to be a magical and wonderful experience could turn traumatic in a matter of minutes. The loss of a mother or child can be traumatic for the family and the nurse.
Employers require that all labour and delivery nurses earn Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certifications to ensure they can assist the doctors with life-threatening conditions that may occur during childbirth.