Labor & Delivery Nurse’s Job Description
Labor and delivery nurses are nurses that assist women during the process of childbirth. Labor and delivery nurses are very similar to perinatal nurses, only they just assist during labor verses seeing the woman during the entire pregnancy like perinatal nurses do. During a woman’s labor, the labor and delivery nurse monitors the fetal heart rate in order to determine if the baby is handling labor well. The nurse also monitors the woman’s blood pressure, temperature, strength and timing of contractions, and cervical dilation. The nurse can assist the woman in finding ways to help labor progress more quickly and comfortably. During the actual delivery, the labor and delivery nurse can help coach the woman with breathing exercises and pushing.
What does an L&D Nurse Do?
If complications arise during labor, the nurse alerts the attending physicians so that further interventions can occur, such as a caesarian delivery. The nurse also assists the physicians when epidurals or pain medications are administered, episiotomies are performed, or when the woman requires preparation for a caesarian delivery. The labor and delivery nurse must also be comfortable with starting IVs in order to administer fluids and the labor-stimulating drug Pitocin.
A labor and delivery nurse must possess excellent critical thinking skills and an ability to make decisions quickly using good professional judgment. Each woman who is admitted to the labor and delivery unit has at least one baby who also becomes the patient of the nurse. The nurse must be able to recognize complications and act quickly in order to stabilize the situation and communicate with the patient, the patient’s family, and the appropriate physicians and specialists in order to ensure a safe and healthy delivery.
Skills & Education
In order to become a labor and delivery nurse, one must have earned an Associate of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree through an accredited college or university. Students can take elective courses in labor and delivery in order to better be prepared for a future career as a labor and delivery nurse. Following graduation, the student must successfully pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX. Board certification can be obtained following clinical experience as a staff nurse and working in the labor and delivery unit.
While the job outlook for nurses in many areas of practice is positive, it is estimated that positions as a labor and delivery nurse may be harder to obtain over the next decade. This is in part due to the fact that labor and delivery is a popular area of nursing with many registered nurses choosing to specialize in that area. It is also an area of nursing with a lower turnover rate than is found in other nursing specialties.
The average yearly salary for a nurse specializing in labor and delivery is approximately $55,000 a year. A labor and delivery nurse who has several years of experience can expect to make closer to $70,000 or more. Those nurses with a master’s degree or higher can also make a significantly higher annual salary. The annual pay level for a labor and delivery nurse is often higher in metropolitan areas verses rural areas. The average salary is also dependent on the area of the country one practices in.
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