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Nurse First News Blog

How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse

Posted June 22, 2020

Labor and delivery nursing is one of the most rewarding specialties in the field. Not only do you provide medical support to the mother and baby, but you offer security and peace as well. Being a labor and delivery nurse is such a vital role in the hospital system, this makes this specialty in particular highly sought after.

This blog will cover what a labor and delivery nurse does, how to become a labor and delivery nurse, the roles and duties, the labor and delivery nurse salary and job projection, and pros and cons of being an L&D nurse.  You’ll be able to quickly examine if this is the right specialty for you.

This article contains:

How to become a labor and delivery nurse?

What does a labor and delivery nurse do?

What are the roles and duties of an L&D nurse?

What are the pros and cons of being a labor and delivery nurse?

What is the salary and job projection for an L&D RN?

How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

To become a labor and delivery nurse you must obtain a degree from an accredited program. You will find that the job market is seeking out nurses that have received their BSN. Once you have completed your coursework, you must sit and pass the NCLEX-RN exam in order to receive the title of “registered” nurse. To practice as a labor and delivery registered nurse, you also must receive a license to work in your desired state. 

If you are looking for a competitive advantage, obtaining your Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) certification through National Certification Corporation is the way to do it! In order to be eligible to sit for this exam, you must have 24 months of experience working in the field.

What Does a Labor and Delivery Nurse Do?

labor and delivery nurse helping mom in labor

Labor and delivery nurses play a vital role in assisting a woman through childbirth and providing postpartum care. They also coach the mother through contractions, educate them on pain control options, monitor mom and baby throughout the labor, update the attending physician’s on the mother’s progress and assist the physician with the birth. L&D nurses are truly angels, not only do they play an integral role in the birthing process, but they provide phenomenal postpartum care to the mother and baby. Typically, the L&D nurse will also assist the mother and baby with their first breastfeeding interaction.

Labor and delivery nurses are not only a support to the mother, but also help coach attending family members. They can be the perfect buffer and calming effect needed in the room. The bond between the nurse, mother, and family can be quite strong. The nurse is a confident force in a world of unknowns to the new family. Whether it is the mother’s first baby or fifth, it is a life-changing moment. Most women will never forget the labor and delivery nurses that assisted during their births. It is a magical, exciting, scary, and exhilarating moment…and the L&D nurse gets to be witness to it all. 

What Are the Roles and Duties of an L&D Nurse?

laboring mom hooked up to fetal monitoring machines while in hospital bed

Labor and delivery nurses typically work in a clinic, hospital, or birthing center. They assist the attending physician or midwife during the prenatal phase and childbirth process. The nurse will also prepare the room for the actual birth, ensuring that all the medical tools and devices are ready for the doctor.  Typically, more of their responsibilities are performed during childbirth, immediately after, and the first few days postpartum.   

During childbirth, the labor and delivery nurse is responsible for fetal monitoring, examining contraction strength/length, administering IV medications, checking the mother’s progress, educating the patient on pain management options, coaching the mother during contractions, and assisting with any issues that may arise. Shortly after the birth, the nurse will perform exams on the newborn, provide breastfeeding support to the mother, bathe the baby, continue to monitor the mother’s well-being, and provide support to the family. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a Labor and Delivery Nurse?


Miracle of Life

Each shift you are guaranteed to witness the miracle of birth – not only witness but be an integral part of it! 

World’s best coach

The birthing mother looks to you for support, knowledge, and safety. To her, you are the “world’s best coach” – her partner coming in as a close second, of course! 😉 You are the person she depends on to take phenomenal care of her and her newborn baby. 

Comfortable living

The average national base salary for a labor and delivery nurse is approximately $73,300/year. The labor and delivery nurse salary may fluctuate based on your years of experience, facility, and location of the position. Of course, loving what you do is payment enough, right?! 


Not always sunshine and rainbows

Most of the time you will find your job rewarding, exhilarating, and overall joyful. However, there are times when things don’t always go as planned. Sadly, you may be witness to the loss of a newborn or mother. When the days are hard – they are really hard. Try not to let this completely deter you from the field – you will see more good days than you do bad. 

Competitive Market

Labor and delivery nursing is a highly sought-after position. This might require you to take on shifts that you do not prefer, but the reward will pay off once you get experience under your belt. 

Babies do what they want

As much as we like to think that we have full control of the birthing experience, we do not! Babies can change positions or suddenly have a decreased heart rate, which would require immediate action! In a matter of minutes, labor could be going smoothly and take a turn for an immediate cesarean section. As a labor and delivery nurse, you’ll need to make quick and accurate judgments for the well-being of the mother and baby.  

What is the salary and job projection for an L&D RN?

mother holding newborn baby in hospital bed

Labor and delivery nurses make a comfortable living. As it was mentioned above, L&D nurses can expect to earn on average $73,300/year. Your individual salary will depend on years of experience, facility, and location of the position. If you are debating a career as an L&D nurse, this might just seal the deal for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing positions, in general, are intended to grow 12%through 2028. This is a much higher rate than most occupations. Not only is nursing a rewarding career, but it is lucrative and in high demand!

There is no greater joy than helping bring new life into the world. Imagine the immense amount of pride and honor you’ll feel during each shift. As with any job, there are perks and downfalls, but at the end of the day, you are helping women with one of the most important events of their lives. You have a tremendous responsibility to the mother, baby, and family. Whether the outcome is positive or unfortunate, you have the opportunity to make a lasting impact.  


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