The Highs and Lows of Postpartum Nurse Jobs

Postpartum Nursing Jobs: the Good and the Bad

By Lee Soren, contributor

Postpartum nurses play a vital role in the lives of new parents, caring for mothers and babies during the crucial period between giving birth and their discharge from the hospital. They closely monitor their patients for signs of dangerous medical issues, such as jaundice or failure to thrive in the babies and hemorrhaging or postpartum depression in the mothers. Postpartum nurses also shoulder much of the responsibility for educating parents on the care of their infants and help families find additional resources if they're needed.

The highs and lows of postpartum nursing

Due to the job's varied nature, there really is no such thing as a typical day for a postpartum nurse. From shift to shift, this challenging career can deliver some of the highest highs and lowest lows of any medical specialty.

High: Watching a new family thrive

Educating families on the care of infants can be a tedious part of a postpartum nurse's daily tasks, but it's also an important and often rewarding one. Many first-time mothers have no idea how to feed, bathe or handle their newborn, and the instruction provided by a trusted nurse can be crucial in starting a family off right. Watching a new family flourish, thrive and gain confidence as they learn can be one of the highlights of the job.

Low: Family drama

Although many families in the postpartum ward are eager to celebrate the birth of a child with balloons and teddy bears, there are always those who bring more than their fair share of drama. Whether it's a spousal fight, parental interference or another type of familial conflict, these incidents can be uncomfortable, upsetting and disruptive to medical staff who are trying to care for patients. For nurses who get pulled from important medical tasks to smooth over family dramas, this can be a definite low point of the job.

High: Saving a life

The CDC estimates that 700 women die annually from complications from pregnancy or delivery, but many of these deaths can be prevented. Through close monitoring and rapid intervention, postpartum nurses may be able to identify the signs of potentially devastating conditions, saving the lives of mothers and babies. Although not every day brings a life or death crisis, the knowledge that her vigilance and care could one day save a life is a true high point for a postpartum nurse.

Low: Devastating diagnoses and the loss of patients

Whether the cause is a congenital birth defect or damage that originates with a drug-addicted mom, an unfortunate fact of postpartum nursing is that not all babies are born healthy. Helping families who have just received devastating diagnoses such as HIV, improperly developed vital organs or metabolic disorders is one major challenge that comes with the job. New parents who are coping with overwhelming decisions regarding treatments and care may look to postpartum nurses for support and advice, and while most nurses are advised to practice a healthy level of clinical detachment, sometimes it's impossible not to be caught up emotionally in these unfolding crises.

Worse, sometimes the unthinkable happens. According to the CDC, nearly four babies out of every 1,000 births die between zero and 27 days of age. With these statistics, it's likely that a postpartum nurse will experience this devastating loss at some point in her career. Helping families navigate the death of an infant is easily the most heartbreaking task a postpartum nurse has to endure in her career.

Working with babies – the ultimate high

Most postpartum nurses will tell you that ultimately, they love their job because they adore working with babies and shepherding happy, new — or growing — families into long, fulfilling lives. They love the challenge, and they love that every patient is unique. It's why so many RNs choose a career in postpartum nursing despite the devastating lows, and it's why they remain in the field for so long.

With their specialized skill set and ability to work under extreme pressure, postpartum nurses are always in high demand, making them ideal candidates for travel nurse assignments. For postpartum nurses looking to grow their career, travel jobs may offer a means to learn about and work with different patient populations and explore facilities where the approach to postpartum care may differ significantly from their current experience.

Choose from a variety of exciting locations when you search for postpartum travel nurse assignments through's extensive job database.


* Indicates required field

© 2023 AMN Healthcare, Inc. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Ad & Cookie Policy
How can I help you?