Labor Delivery Nurse

Although an increasing number of nurses are working in settings outside the hospital, labor and delivery nurses still work primarily in hospital delivery rooms and neonatal care centers. Labor and delivery nurses perform a variety of functions, all relating to women struggling with pregnancy, labor and delivery. Labor and delivery nurses must be good with people, have superb analytical skills, the ability to make quick decisions and they must be extremely professional. In addition to assisting pregnant women directly, they counsel family members and collaborate with physicians.

The Role of Labor and Delivery Nurses

Labor and delivery nurses assist pregnant women and mothers with the following stages: antepartum, postpartum, intrapartum, and neonatal. They develop customized healthcare plans for expecting mothers after meeting with them and assessing their needs and desires. It's not uncommon to find labor and deliver nurses working in teams with doctor, OB-GYNS, other nurses, and medical specialists to put together the best treatment and healthcare plan for their patients. They monitor the progress of their patients and teach them how to care for their babies after they're born. They also counsel with patients' families, the expectant father and provide any emotional support they require.

The following is a more detailed description of different types of labor and deliver nurses:

  • Antepartum Nurse – these nurses help women deal with complications associated with pregnancy that require hospitalization
  • Labor & Deliver Nurse (L&D Nurse) – assist women with labor and the delivery of their babies (irregardless of whether there are complications)
  • Circulating Nurse – are responsible for assisting with cesarean deliveries
  • Scrub Nurse – provide direct assistance to doctors performing cesarean deliveries by organizing equipment, monitoring the patient, etc.
  • Postpartum Nurse – help women to recuperate following delivery
  • Nursery Nurse – assist in taking care of newborn babies

In addition to working directly with pregnant women, some labor and deliver nurses work as clinical coordinators. These professionals are responsible for supervising patient care and assigning nursing staff to work with specific patients. Other labor and delivery nurses fill positions as medical sales representatives, teachers, and researchers. With advanced education, labor and delivery nurses can be promoted to supervisory and management positions or take on advanced nursing roles including perinatal clinical nurse or nurse practitioner.

Another nursing specialty that labor and delivery nurses can pursue with the right experience and education is High Risk Obstetrics.

Work Settings

The following four facilities are where the majoriy of practicing labor and delivery nurses are employed:

  • Hospital labor and delivery units
  • Healthcare and Medical clinics
  • Physician's offices
  • Maternity and birthing centers


In addition to having good analytical skills, labor and delivery nurses must be good communicators and be able to make important decisions quickly. They need to be able to monitor a patient's progress and know if and when additional help is required. Since delivery is fast-paced and stressful, they also need to have good stress management and organizational skills.

Education and Training

Labor and delivery nurses typically are registered nurses. To become a registered nurse, you must first earn an associate's or bachelor's degree from an accredited nursing programs and then pass a state examination to become licensed. Additionally, you'll need to receive specialized labor and delivery training, including fetal monitoring and neonatal resuscitation.

Like other areas of nursing, labor and delivery nurses can get certified in a number of relevant nursing specialties by passing state sponsored certification exams. Labor and delivery nursing specialties include fetal monitoring, and intrapartum and postpartum nursing. Registered nurses who meet certification requirements can receive the RNC designation.

Salary Range

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary range for labor and delivery nurses is comparable to that of registered nurses. The median annual salary for RNs is just about $50,000. About 30% of all RNs earn from $40,000 to $50,000 a year, while the remaining make between $50,000 and $90,000 a year.

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