How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse

Find out how to become a labor and delivery nurse. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in nursing.

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Do I Want to Be a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Labor and delivery nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who provide care to women and their newborns during the various stages of pregnancy and childbirth. They work closely with patients, families, and other health care professionals. Nurses may spend many hours standing and might need to lift or move patients.

Job Requirements

Labor and delivery nurses are required to complete a nursing education program, pass a licensing exam, and earn certification. The following table contains essential requirements for labor and delivery nurses:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Varies; nursing diploma, associate's degree, bachelor's degree*
Degree Field Nursing*
Licensure/Certification Must pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) for licensure* and then pass certification exams specific to labor and delivery specialties**
Experience Earning certification requires a certain amount of working experience in the labor and delivery department**
Key Skills Communication skills, emotional stability, detail-oriented, compassion, critical-thinking skills, patience*
Computer Skills Medical software, Microsoft Excel, accounting software***
Technical Skills Ability to measure vital signs and use various medical equipment***
Additional Requirements Additional licensing requirements, such as continuing education, vary by state*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, ***O*NET Online.

Step One: Pursue Nursing Training

Prospective labor and delivery nurses must first obtain nursing training, such as an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor's degree in nursing, or a nursing diploma from an accredited nursing school or hospital. Bachelor's degree programs are generally completed in four years, while diploma and ADN programs typically take at least two years. Nursing degree programs generally include courses in chemistry, psychology, anatomy, nutrition, pharmacology, and microbiology. In addition to classroom instruction, nursing programs include supervised clinical training.

Step Two: Become a Licensed RN

In order to gain licensure, individuals must demonstrate basic nursing skills, provide transcripts, and pass the NCLEX-RN. This exam measures the knowledge and technical skills that entry-level nurses need to perform their jobs safely and efficiently. Some states require that RNs renew their licenses every 2-3 years.

Success Tip:

  • Prepare for the licensing exam. Become familiar with the features and format of the test by taking preparation courses.

Step Three: Gain Work Experience in Labor and Delivery

Licensed RNs may apply to work in hospital labor and delivery units, clinics, physician offices, maternity centers, and birthing centers. Labor and delivery nurses may also be required to have knowledge of neonatal resuscitation and fetal monitoring. Some employers may require experience as a staff nurse prior to being hired as a labor and delivery nurse.

Step Four: Obtain Certification

After meeting the required hours of work experience in labor and delivery, RNs may apply for specialty certification through the National Certification Corporation (NCC). Core and subspecialty certification is available in such areas as fetal monitoring, maternal newborn monitoring, and neonatal nursing. The Registered Nurse Certified (RNC) designation is given to nurses who have fulfilled the requirements outlined by the NCC.

Success Tip:

  • Maintain certification. Continuing education (CE), experience level, and other qualifications must be met in order to maintain certification. RNCs will need to make sure their CE hours and documented and submitted, along with their application before their certification is due to expire.
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