5 Soft Nursing Skills Every L&D Nurse Needs

5 Soft Nursing Skills Every L&D Nurse Needs

By Elizabeth Marcant, Contributor

Nursing skills are critical for your career, and it literally pays to have the right ones for your specialty.

Many nurses are good about incorporating clinical skills in resumes and pursuing education to ensure they have the right technical knowledge for a job. But soft skills are also essential, and Catherine Burger, RN, BS, MSOL, NEA-BC, Media Specialist for, discusses the top five. 

Five Must-have Labor and Delivery Nursing Skills 

1. Empathy

Labor and delivery is a special time for mom's and families, fraught with fears, emotions and amazement. Nurses must be able to show empathy for patients and families going through this whirlwind.

"Even if the nurse has not had or birthed a child him or herself, most everyone has experienced physical pain or the emotions of fear, uncertainty or doubt," says Burger. "Connecting with the birthing mother with empathy is possible for any nurse and sends the message of understanding."

2. Calmness

But RNs can't let themselves get too swept up in the emotions of others. Burger notes that "the L&D environment can get stressful at any moment. The patient needs a voice and presence of calm and focus in her ear no matter what is happening."

Nurses may want to work on developing their communication skills to help promote calmness and decision-making in such situations.

3. Relationship-building

Childbirth is an intensely personal time, and being a viable part of someone's birth team requires relationship. RNs working on a labor and delivery ward come to the birth at a disadvantage of doctors, midwives or doulas, who may have been following the mother throughout pregnancy. They must be able to develop an appropriate and supporting relationship quickly.

"The nurse must be able to quickly build a positive relationship with the birthing mother and the entire tribe that is there to support the mother," says Burger. "The better the relationship with the father of the baby or the doula, the better the overall experience will be for the patient."

4. Sense of humor

"The ability to bring a sense of lightheartedness to stressful or strained environments is a useful skill — when applied appropriately," says Burger. "Nurses should gauge the emotional status of the patient and the relationship before joking around too much."

5. Cultural competency

Learning to read those emotional and mental gauges is incredibly important for nurses of all types and goes hand-in-hand with cultural competency. Burger notes that "most L&D nurses encounter patients from differing cultural beliefs related to birthing a child. Nurses should be trained to the specifics of the various cultures in the community to best serve the birthing mother and family."

Ultimately, the goal of a labor and delivery nurse is to work as part of a healthcare team helping mothers bring new life into the world. And while clinical knowledge is obviously critical to ensure the safety of both mom and child, soft nursing skills can help RNs promote overall well-being and make labor and delivery less daunting and scary for everyone.

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