The 5 Best Things About Being a Labor & Delivery Nurse
By Anita Wong, contributor
While working in an obstetrics or maternity ward can be demanding, helping a mother bring a new child into the world is one of the incomparable benefits of being a labor and delivery nurse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.8 million babies were born in the United States in 2018. The role of an L&D nurse includes fetal monitoring, helping to manage pregnancy complications and assisting with cesarean deliveries, which accounted for nearly one-third of births.
An L&D nurse works in hospitals, clinics, birthing or maternity centers and doctor's offices. Women choose hospitals for the majority of deliveries — 98.4 percent of all births in 2017, according to an article in Birth Issues in Prenatal Care. From 2004 to 2017, home births increased by 77 percent to 0.99 percent of births, while deliveries in birth centers more than doubled to 0.52 percent.
No matter which of these environments you want to practice in, if you're considering L&D nursing as a specialty, check out our list of five benefits of being a labor and delivery nurse.
1. Playing a part in a life-changing event
While people may be hospitalized for illness, injury or surgery, childbirth is usually a time that a patient is excited for what's to come. L&D nurses are involved in one of a woman's most memorable life events, whether the patient is becoming a mother for the first time or adding to a family. Helping parents through this amazing experience is one of the greatest benefits of being a labor and delivery nurse.
Like any nursing specialty, there are also unfortunate outcomes. L&D nurses play an important role in comforting families through heartbreaking loss and giving them someone to lean on.
2. Being a trusted advocate to your patient
This nursing position liaises between a patient and a larger healthcare team. Because the doctor isn't always available, the L&D nurse often acts as an advocate and is the healthcare professional that a patient has the most contact with.
This strong relationship is especially important to a patient who finds giving birth to be frightening or overwhelming. The L&D nurse is present throughout, supporting and providing patients with the encouragement to make it through.
3. Educating new parents
Some patients are transitioning to motherhood for the first time. One of the most satisfying labor and delivery nurse benefits is giving mothers the knowledge and confidence to care for their child at home.
L&D nurses play a pivotal role in educating new parents about newborn care such as feeding and reading infant cues. Labor and delivery nurses also help to ensure new mothers understand the importance of postpartum care, mental health and nutrition.
4. Enjoying a variety of roles and specialties
Because there are several stages involved in childbirth, L&D nursing gives you the exciting chance to develop a variety of skills. An antepartum nurse cares for pregnant mothers who require hospitalization before labor, while a postpartum nurse takes care of mothers after delivery. You can also work in the operating room during surgeries or cesarean sections and as a charge nurse supervising a unit.
As you find niches that are of interest, you can acquire a variety of certifications including:
- Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB)
- Maternal Newborn Nursing (RNC-MNN)
- Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-NIC)
- Low Risk Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-LRN)
5. Using your L&D skills to travel
With a strong demand for labor and delivery nurses across the country, you can combine your expertise with travel and embark on a rewarding adventure. Choose short-term assignments as an L&D travel nurse in the locations of your choice, whether you're curious about a certain part of the country or simply want to explore.
While pay varies based on experience, certification, facility and region, a travel nurse can earn higher pay than a full-time staff nurse and receive stipends to cover meals and housing.
Helping bring a child into the world is just one of the many benefits of being a labor and delivery nurse. Explore some available L&D travel nursing jobs and put your skills to work as you travel.