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Perinatal Nurse Career Overview

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Perinatal nurses care for pregnant patients and their newborns, usually from the early stages of pregnancy to just after giving birth. According to PayScale, perinatal nurses earn about $78,850 yearly, above the national average for all occupations.

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Perinatal Nurse Career in Brief

adn or bsn required
certification options

Perinatal nurse jobs involve providing healthcare for pregnant patients and education for the entire family. Perinatal nurses work under physicians or nurse practitioners and may supervise nursing assistants.

A perinatal nurse practitioner may be a woman’s primary care provider during her pregnancy. After labor and delivery, neonatal nurses may take over caring duties for the infant.

Career Traits
  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Collaboration
  • Teaching skills
Certification Options
  • Maternal Newborn Nursing
  • Inpatient Obstetric Nursing
  • Perinatal Nursing (renewals only)
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What Does a Perinatal Nurse Do?

Perinatal nurse jobs involve providing healthcare for pregnant patients and education for the entire family. Perinatal nurses work under physicians or nurse practitioners and may supervise nursing assistants.

A perinatal nurse practitioner may be a woman’s primary care provider during her pregnancy. After labor and delivery, neonatal nurses may take over caring duties for the infant.


Maternity Wards


Perinatal nurses assist with birth and provide immediate care like helping the infant to nurse. They also educate new parents and families on infant care.


OB/GYN Offices


Perinatal nurses prepare pregnant patients and their families for the upcoming birth, help develop birth plans, and provide follow-up care.


Home Health Services


Perinatal nurses help arrange healthy home environments for infants, serve as a resource for pregnant patients and expecting families, and monitor patient’s health.


What Is the Difference Between Perinatal Nursing and Neonatal Nursing?

There is some overlap between perinatal nurse jobs and neonatal nurse jobs, but in general, perinatal nurses focus their care on the pregnant patient across all stages of pregnancy, while neonatal nurses provide specialized care for newborn infants.

Perinatal Nursing

  • Care for patients during and after pregnancy and for the infant immediately after birth
  • Educate pregnant patients on prenatal health and on what to expect after giving birth
  • Monitor patients for potential complications such as gestational diabetes

Neonatal Nursing

  • Interact with pregnant patients late in pregnancy or just before birth
  • May care primarily for infants with health complications, depending on the healthcare setting
  • Can access a wider variety of possible certifications
  • Work often in neonatal intensive care units

 

How to Become a Perinatal Nurse

Earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or an associate degree in nursing (ADN)
An ADN typically takes two years to complete, while a BSN takes four years. Some perinatal nurse jobs require a BSN. Eventually required for nursing professionals seeking to become a nurse midwife or nurse practitioner, master of science in nursing (MSN) programs require a BSN or bridge program.

Pass the NCLEX-RN to receive registered nurse (RN) licensure
The National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) is a national examination that takes up to six hours and covers all aspects of nursing, including physiological and health conditions, safety and risk control, basic nursing practice, and legal/ethical issues.

Gain experience in perinatal nursing
Entry-level perinatal nurses receive extensive on-the-job training and experience.

Consider earning certifications in perinatal or obstetric nursing
Most advanced perinatal nursing jobs require or strongly prefer certifications. The National Certification Corporation offers inpatient obstetric nursing and maternal newborn nursing certifications.

Advance perinatal nursing career with an MSN or a doctorate
Perinatal nurses seeking more autonomy, greater responsibilities, or higher wages can pursue an advanced practice nursing credential, such as a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife. Both require an MSN or a doctorate.

 

How Much Do Perinatal Nurses Make?

PayScale reports an average annual base salary of $78,850 for perinatal nurses. Perinatal nurses might pursue an MSN or a DNP and advanced certification to become advanced practice registered nurses, accessing higher salaries. Nurse practitioners earn a median annual wage of $111,680, and nurse midwives earn a median of $111,130.

New perinatal nurses enter a healthy job market; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects roles for RNs, including perinatal nurse jobs, to grow 7% between 2019 and 2029, faster than the average job growth rate.

Find State-Specific Salary Data Here

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many years does it take to become a perinatal nurse?

    It takes between 2-4 years to become a perinatal nurse, two years to complete an ADN and four years to earn a BSN. Advanced perinatal nurse jobs often require certification, which usually requires two years of experience as a perinatal nurse.

  • How do perinatal nurses work with other healthcare professionals?

    Perinatal nurses work under physicians or advanced practice nurses such as nurse midwives. Their duties may include supervising nursing assistants. Once an infant is born, they may transfer care to a neonatal nurse.

  • What career advancement opportunities are available for perinatal nurses?

    Perinatal nurse jobs offer advancement through experience, education, and certification. Advanced practice nurses such as nurse midwives or nurse practitioners earn higher perinatal nurse salaries.

  • What are perinatal mental health conditions?

    Postpartum depression is the best known perinatal mental health condition, but patients experience a range of conditions, including anxiety. Additionally, trauma during pregnancy can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder. Perinatal nurse jobs often include educating pregnant patients on perinatal mental health and the warning signs of serious conditions.

Resources for Perinatal Nurses


  • National Perinatal Association NPA conducts research and creates guidelines, provides professional development and continuing education opportunities, educates the public, and advocates for perinatal health. Membership is open to healthcare professionals and also to organizations, individuals, or other professional stakeholders, including parents.
  • Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses AWHONN offers continuing education hours and professional development resources; issues awards, grants, and scholarships; publishes news briefs and a journal; and hosts a job board. Membership is open to all interested parties but only RNs can vote and hold office.
  • The Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing A peer-reviewed journal that is published by Wolters Kluwer Health on a quarterly basis, each issue has a specific topic and focus. Continuing education credit is available for some articles through CEConnection.
  • National Association of Neonatal Nurses NANN affords members with a mentoring service along with networking events; advances continuing education and professional development; hosts a career center; publishes a journal and newsletters; and promotes issues for the neonatal nursing industry. Membership is open to RNs and nursing students.

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Reviewed by:

Portrait of Nicole Galan, RN, MSN

Nicole Galan, RN, MSN

Nicole Galan, RN, MSN is a registered nurse who started on a general medical/surgical care unit and then moved to infertility care where she worked for almost 10 years. She has also worked for over 13 years as a freelance writer specializing in consumer health sites and educational materials for nursing students. Galan currently works as a full-time freelancer and recently earned her master’s degree in nursing education from Capella University.

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