Labor and Delivery Nurse Career Overview
| NurseJournal Staff
Labor and delivery (L&D) nurses assist women with childbirth. L&D nurse jobs can be very emotionally rewarding and, like most nurse salaries, L&D nurse salaries are above the U.S. average.
Labor and Delivery Nurse Career in Brief
A L&D nurse cares for mothers during labor and birth and provides the infant's initial postpartum care under the supervision of a nurse midwife or physician. They must be especially good at communication and understanding the parent's psychological and medical needs.
- Care for the mother and infant throughout labor, birth, and immediate postpartum phase
- Provide psychological and emotional support
- Monitor the mother's condition and escalate treatment as necessary
- Communication with patients and other caregivers
- Ability to make quick decisions
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Where Do Labor and Delivery Nurses Work?
Most L&D nurse jobs are in hospitals or stand-alone birthing centers.
Assisting and encouraging the mother, monitoring labor progress, calling in specialists or otherwise escalating care as needed
Tending to mothers and newborns, monitoring vital signs, educating family on infant care
Assisting during labor and postpartum, monitoring progress and vital signs, referring to hospital care if needed, caring for the newborn and mother during initial postpartum period
What Is the Difference Between a L&D Nurse and a Certified Nurse Midwife?
L&D nurses and nurse midwives are registered nurses (RNs), but a nurse midwife has more advanced training and certification. Nurse midwives may also work with expectant mothers throughout pregnancy—not just labor and delivery.
Labor and Delivery Nurse
- Works with one mother in active labor at a time
- Cares for mother throughout birth process
- Has RN license
- Carries out nurse midwife's or physician's orders, such as inducing labor
Certified Nurse Midwife
- May work with multiple mothers at once during labor
- May care for mother throughout pregnancy
- Has RN license, nurse midwife certification, and master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP)
- Makes critical decisions
How To Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse
Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam To Receive RN Licensure
Gain experience and improve job prospects through certifications
Advance your career with a graduate degree
How Much Do Labor and Delivery Nurses Make?
The average annual L&D nurse salary is $65,410. Advanced certification, such as the RNC-OB, significantly increases compensation. For those with the RNC-OB, the average annual L&D nurse salary is $80,330.
Frequently Asked Questions
Resources for Labor and Delivery Nurses
Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal NursesAWHONN serves nurses through advocacy, networking, and offering professional continuing education, including courses for L&D nurses such as fetal heart monitoring. Membership is open to nurses and any other interested parties, but only RNs can vote or hold office.
American College of Nurse-MidwivesACNM provides professional education for certified nurse midwives and certified midwives and advocates for the profession. Certified midwives and nurse midwives can be full members, but others can join as nonvoting members.
National Association of Neonatal NursesNANN develops and delivers continuing education and development (including an annual conference), publishes a journal and newsletters, and offers fellowships. Membership is open to nursing students as well as RNs.
Nurse Practitioners in Women's HealthThe NPWH provides continuing professional education, conducts research, and advocates for policies that advance both women's health and nurse practitioners. The majority of members are practitioners, but there are membership categories for other women's health specialists and students.
Nicole Galan is a registered nurse who earned a master's degree in nursing education from Capella University and currently works as a full-time freelance writer. Throughout her nursing career, Galan worked in a general medical/surgical care unit and then in infertility care. She has also worked for over 13 years as a freelance writer specializing in consumer health sites and educational materials for nursing students.
Galan is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners.
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