How to Become a Postpartum Nurse

Updated October 3, 2022 · 5 Min Read

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Postpartum nurses care for mothers and infants right after a birth. Learn how to become a postpartum nurse and what typical job responsibilities include.

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How to Become a Postpartum Nurse
Credit: Fly View Productions | E+ | Getty Images

How Long to Become

2-4 years

Job Outlook

9% growth from 2020-2030

Degree Required

ADN or BSN
For all RNs


Postpartum nurses care for mothers and infants from after birth until they are discharged from the hospital. Some postpartum nurses also provide homecare, especially for at-risk cases. They play a vital role in not just making sure that the mother and baby are healthy, but in helping prepare the family to take care of their newborn.

This guide explores how to become a postpartum nurse, what they earn, and what typical job responsibilities include.

What Is a Postpartum Nurse?

Postpartum nurses monitor both the mother and infant's vitals and watch for signs of complications. They also help to bathe the newborn, dispense any needed medications, guide the mother through breastfeeding, and check incisions. They provide psychological support for new mothers and educate them on how to care for a newborn.

Postpartum nurses must be familiar with the many physical and psychological conditions that can affect a mother, including signs of postpartum depression. This job comes with significant responsibilities and requires expertise in practical nursing, teaching, and communication.

Steps to Becoming a Postpartum Nurse

The first step in how to become a postpartum nurse is to earn a nursing degree, followed by passing the NCLEX-RN. Many employers maintain additional requirements for postpartum nurses, such as certification in basic life support (BLS) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS).

An associate degree in nursing (ADN) takes two years to complete, while a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) takes four years. Because postpartum nurses have such a high level of responsibility, many employers require or prefer a BSN degree. Nurses with an ADN and nursing experience can often save time by enrolling in an RN-to-BSN program, which takes approximately one year.

The NCLEX-RN is a multi-hour multiple-choice examination. It covers every nursing school topic, including practical nursing skills, patient communications, and legal and ethical aspects of nursing.

Once you receive your license, you can start working in a maternity department. As an entry-level nurse, you will receive extensive on-the-job training in caring for mothers and newborns.

Once you have at least two years and 2,000 hours of experience in postpartum nursing, you can apply for the National Certification Corporation's (NCC) certification in maternal newborn nursing.

Featured Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Postpartum Nurse Education

If you hold no degree and want to know how to become a postpartum nurse as quickly as possible, a two-year ADN program is the fastest path. For career advancement, or if you plan to earn a master's degree to become an advanced practice nurse, a four-year bachelor's degree may be a better choice. Accelerated, 11-18 month bachelor's programs are available for postgraduate students.

ADN Degree

An ADN degree covers practical nursing skills and knowledge. Many learners chose this path because it is the fastest route to a license, and ADN programs are often easier to get into than BSN programs. They also cost far less. However, especially for higher-level roles, many employers require or strongly prefer a BSN.

High school diploma or GED certificate, math and science courses

Practical nursing skills, the healthcare system, hygiene, communications, legal and ethical aspects of nursing

Two years

Understanding and carrying out physician or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) treatment prescriptions; administering medication and other treatments; monitoring patients and administering tests or taking samples; wound care; updating medical records

BSN Degree

A BSN degree covers the same topics that the ADN includes, but in more depth, and with more topics on the theory of nursing, public health, and nurse leadership. The BSN also includes the topics and depth that you need for a master's program to become an advanced practice nurse.

High school diploma or GED; typically a 3.0 GPA

Nursing theory and practice, public health, practical nursing skills, communications, legal and ethical aspects of nursing

Four years (Accelerated, 11-18 month BSNs are available for learners who already hold a bachelor's in a non-nursing discipline.)

Nursing leadership, advanced topics in understanding and carrying out physician or APRN treatment prescriptions; administering medication and other treatments; monitoring patients and administering tests or taking samples; wound care; updating medical records

Postpartum Nurse Licensure and Certification

Once you have your nursing degree and have passed the NCLEX-RN, you must apply for a state nursing license. During your first postpartum nursing position, you will receive extensive on-the-job training.

After obtaining at least two years and 2,000 hours of experience as a postpartum nurse, you can apply for certification in maternal newborn nursing from the NCC. You must have the required experience, a current and unencumbered license, experience in postpartum nursing during the most recent 24 months, and a passing score on the certification examination.

Working as a Postpartum Nurse

Almost all postpartum nurses work in hospitals or birthing centers. The responsibilities are similar in any setting. However, in a hospital, you are likely to work with other departments, such as a neonatal intensive care unit, when necessary. Some postpartum nurses, however, work for public health or other government offices and specialize in home health visits, especially for high-risk cases.

Postpartum nurse salaries are above the national average for all jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurses earn a median $77,660, and the highest-paid 10% of nurses earn at least $120,250. The BLS also projects the demand for registered nurses to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Postpartum Nurse


How many years does it take to become a postpartum nurse?

How to become a postpartum nurse depends on your goals. It takes at least two years to earn an ADN, which is the minimum educational requirement. However, a four-year BSN degree may be more valuable for your career if you plan to become an APRN.

What is the quickest way to become a postpartum nurse?

The quickest way to become a postpartum nurse is to earn a two-year ADN degree. You must then pass the NCLEX-RN, obtain a state license, and gain experience as an entry-level postpartum nurse. New graduate RNs can also gain entry into the postpartum field via nursing residency programs.

How hard is it to become a postpartum nurse?

To graduate from nursing school, you must be able to do well in science topics like anatomy, chemistry topics like pharmacology, and master communications skills. You must also have technical skills to use electronic health records programs.

Are postpartum nurses in demand?

Like all RNs, postpartum nurses are in demand, though demand is generally greater in areas with a high birth rate and in underserved areas. However, the greatest concentration of postpartum nurse jobs are in large cities.


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