How Do You Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Labor and Delivery NurseFollowing the steps to become a labor and delivery nurse will develop a rewarding career helping new mothers bring their children into the world. Labor and delivery nursing is a unique RN specialty devoted to providing competent, compassionate care to pregnant women throughout the entire childbirth process. L&D nurses are responsible for monitoring the mother’s vital signs, tracking the baby’s heart rate, timing contractions, administering pain medications, helping induce labor, coaching mothers through labor, assisting in breastfeeding, and more. For this fast-paced, multi-faceted nursing role, L&D nurses must have the training needed to quickly identify any complications for keeping the mother and baby safe, according to Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow. Below is a step-by-step guide depicting how you can reach the goal of becoming a labor and delivery nurse.

Earn Your Nursing Degree

Before you can specialize as a labor and delivery nurse, you’ll need to become an Registered Nurse first. In many states, there are three routes approved for registered nurses. You can either pursue a one-year nursing diploma, two-year associate’s degree, or four-year bachelor’s degree. Investing in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is best for marketing yourself in the increasingly complex labor and delivery nursing specialty. On top of your core coursework in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, biology, and nursing theory, it’s important that you take electives directly related to labor and delivery. If possible, complete your clinical rotations in a hospital delivery room, birthing center, or obstetrician’s office too.

Gain Experience in Labor and Delivery

After finishing your nursing training, you’ll have the qualifications needed to become an RN through your state board of nursing. Apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Make sure you’re prepared to pass with flying colors by studying the exam format, taking preparation courses, and fine-tuning your basic nursing skills. Once you’re licensed, you can start applying for open entry-level staff nursing positions. Most employers will expect some clinical experience prior to hiring a labor and delivery nurse. With time, you’ll develop the clinical expertise needed to work in a L&D unit, clinic, maternity ward, birthing center, or private practice. Renewing your nursing license every two to three years is usually required.

Pursue Professional Certification

Finally, it’s time to demonstrate your labor and delivery nursing competence by earning credentials through the National Certification Corporation (NCC). Registered nurses can be certified in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB), Maternal Newborn Nursing (RNC-MNN), Low Risk Neonatal Nursing (RNC-LRN), or Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-NIC). These core certifications will require you pay a $325 application registration fee. Certification requires that you have current RN licensure, 24 months of labor and delivery experience, a minimum of 2000 contact hours, and employment in the specialty. Tests can be taken at one of 250 different centers available across the United States. Subspecialties can be added in fetal monitoring and maternal newborn monitoring too.

Related Resources: Become an Obstetrician

Choosing to become a labor and delivery nurse will give you the valuable chance to help women progress through childbirth more quickly and comfortably. Labor and Delivery nurses are able to witness the miracle of new life and help families welcome new children daily. Although nursing jobs are projected to skyrocket by 19 percent over this decade, Labor and Delivery nursing is popular and has a below-average turnover rate. Once you become a labor and delivery nurse, you may wish to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and become a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife for better marketability.