Choosing to become a labor and delivery nurse will prepare you for helping women throughout the birthing process to bring new life into the world safely. L&D nurses serve a vital role in providing care through the antepartum, intrapartum, postpartum, and neonatal states of delivery. Labor and delivery nursing duties include monitoring fetal heart rate, measuring contractions, performing diagnostics, inducing labor, coaching mothers in delivery, assisting with Cesarean sections, and testing newborn babies. Since there are numerous birthing complications that can arise, L&D nurses need rigorous training to prepare for anything and potentially save lives. If you’re looking to move your career into the delivery room, the following is a step-by-step guide for specializing in labor and delivery nursing.
Receive a Nursing Degree
Before you can become a labor and delivery nurse, you’ll first need to full the RN requirements in your state. Depending on whether you live, you may only need a two-year associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) from a community college. Going the extra step to earn a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at an accredited university is usually advised. BSN nurses tend to be more marketable for specialty roles thanks to the well-rounded education and extra clinical practicum time. Take elective courses directly related to labor and delivery, women’s health, obstetrics, and neonatal nursing.
Gain Work Experience
Once you graduate, you’ll be qualified to receive state RN licensing by taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Passing with flying colors will certify that you can legally practice in any registered nursing position. You may need to start your career as an entry-level staff nurse to supplement your training with real-world experience. From there, you can apply for open jobs in hospital delivery units, midwifery clinics, obstetrician offices, maternity centers, and other birthing facilities. Make certain you learn key practical skills like neonatal resuscitation and epidural administration.
Become Professionally Certified
Next, you should cement your professional credentials as a labor and delivery nurse by pursuing certification from the National Certification Corporation (NCC). You can become a Registered Nurse Certified (RNC) in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing or Maternal Newborn Nursing based on your interests. Candidates must have valid U.S. nursing licensure and two years of specialty experience for a minimum of 2,000 practice hours. Receiving certification will involve passing a paper or computer-based test. NCC certifications must be maintained every three years with continuing education credits.
Consider Attending Graduate School
Although it’s not required, L&D nurses may wish to attend graduate school to further advance their career into advanced practice registered nursing (APRN). Obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is the most common route taken, but going even further with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) will offer greater leadership positions. Labor and delivery nurses can use their graduate degree to work as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or Nurse Practitioner (NP) in maternal health. Becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is also possible for nurses looking to deliver babies themselves.
Related Resource: Triage Nurse
Behind almost every mother stands a labor and delivery nurse who helped her through the traumatic, yet awe-inspiring process of birthing her child. L&D nurses are assigned to actively laboring mothers to offer much-needed assistance through every step of delivery until mother and baby are healthy enough for release. If you follow these steps to become a labor and delivery nurse, you’ll build a rewarding career ushering in new life and witnessing the creation of new families.