What exactly is a Labor and Delivery Nurse?
L&D nurses start as Registered Nurses (RN) and may proceed to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) such as OB/GYN Nurse Practitioners, but they eventually pursue some degree of speciality training to assist women in childbirth.
Unlike many general staff RN occupations, where the type of patient care you provide varies, labor and delivery nurses have a very particular duty – to interact with pregnant women.
While the majority of labor and delivery nurses work in hospitals, birthing centers are sprouting up all over the country.
The good news for anyone interested in becoming a labor and delivery nurse is that the position will always be in demand, whether in a hospital, birthing center, or clinic. You can pick this rewarding and pleasant career path by getting experience as a Registered Nurse and then concentrating in L&D.
What Is the Role of a Labor and Delivery Nurse?
L&D nurses work with only a few patients every day, monitoring their progress and dealing with any unexpected developments that arise.
They continue to care for the moms after birth until they are discharged from the hospital. This care is more complicated for mothers who had a C-section or another medical problem.
An L&D nurse’s key tasks include the following:
- Monitoring the vital indicators of both the baby and the mother, such as heart rate and blood pressure
- Contraction timing
- Recognising and aiding with difficulties
- Assisting with the administration of drugs and epidurals
- Assisting in the induction of labor
- Coaching new mothers throughout the labor and delivery process
- There is also a lot of hand-holding, support, and soothing going on in birthing rooms.
Is Labor and Delivery Nursing in High Demand?
The demand for labor and delivery nurses will be determined in part by the fertility rate in a given geographical area and in part by the existing population in that area. (“The fertility rate” is the number of live births divided by the number of women of reproductive age in a specific geographical area.)
Childbirth is the most common reason for hospital admissions in the United States, serving as a loss leader that does not generate income on its own but may lead to profits if a laboring woman and her family seek medical assistance at the hospital where she delivered. However, the birth rate in the United States has been slowly dropping for some years. (“Birth Rate” is the ratio of live births per 1,000 people in any given location in any given year.) In 2018, 3,788,235 infants were born in the United States, a 2% decrease from 2017. Preliminary data from the period following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that the birthrate in the United States is continuing to fall, and that it is falling faster.
The need for learning and development services is falling. Furthermore, many smaller hospitals are closing their labor and delivery units because they are losing money.
Fertility rates differ greatly across states. South Dakota had the highest fertility rate in 2020, with 73.6. California, on the other hand, had a fertility rate of 56.2. However, California has a significantly larger population than South Dakota. California had 469,884 live births in 2020, while South Dakota had 12,522 live births. Obviously, the demand for labor and delivery nurses in California will be greater than in South Dakota.
Where Do Labor and Delivery Nurses Work?
The vast majority of labor and delivery nurses work in hospitals or separate birthing centers. Many hospitals offer specialized units dedicated to the requirements of pregnant and laboring women. An L&D nurse may work with laboring women, with postpartum mother/infant couplets, or in a surgical operating theater, assisting with Cesarean sections, tubal ligations, and emergency obstetric and gynecological treatments. L&D nurses may also work in specific triage rooms, determining the stage of labor of a laboring mother so that she can be admitted to the hospital or sent home.
When working with moms, L&D nurses often monitor contractions, administer drugs, monitor the laboring mother’s vital signs, and use a specialized fetal monitor to check on the unborn infant’s heartbeat. Once a woman is in active labor, labor and delivery nurses also serve as labor coaches.
Some L&D nurses work as midwife assistants or doulas at home deliveries.
What Is a Labor and Delivery Nurses Work Schedule Like?
Babies, for the most part, choose their own birth timetables, and hospitals must accommodate this fact when it comes to staffing. Hospitals are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are often divided into two 12-hour shifts or three 8-hour shifts. Twelve-hour shifts run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., while eight-hour hours run from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., and 11:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
Because the majority of labor and delivery nurses are hourly rather than salaried workers, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to the average labor and delivery nurse compensation. Overtime pay is required for labor and delivery nurses who work more than 40 hours per week. Shift differentials are not required by law, but most medical centers and hospitals pay them because finding nurses willing to work outside of the typical 9-to-5 weekday would be extremely difficult.
What Does a Labor and Delivery Nurse Make Per Hour?
What will the hourly wage for labor and delivery nurses be in 2022? In 2022, the average labor and delivery nurse hourly wage will be $32.29. Shift differentials are included in this figure. L&D nurses often attain this milestone around the sixth year of their careers.
Hourly earnings are typically decided by aggregate demand in any specific location, as well as industry and market pay rates for other people doing similar work in that location. As previously stated, the market pay rate for labor and delivery nurses is roughly the same as that of other nurses.
The fertility rate, which can be considered as a rough measure of demand, does not appear to have as much influence on a labor and delivery nurse’s hourly income as market pay rates.
Alabama, for example, has a relatively high fertility rate of 60.9, and 58,615 infants were born in the Yellowhammer State in 2019. However, the lowest-paid labor and delivery nurses in the United States are L&D RNs in Alabama, where annual pay averages about $50,560. This is because Alabama RNs earn one of the lowest wages in the country, and L&D nurse pay is comparable to other RN incomes.
Hourly Labor & Delivery Nurse Salary:
|Level of Experience||Hourly Earnings|
|1-4 Years of Experience||$24.88|
|5-9 Years of Experience||$30.40|
|10-19 Years of Experience||$37.77|
|20 Years or More Experience||$46.91|
|Average Hourly Earnings||$32.29|
Delivery and Labor Nurse Salaries Based on Years of Experience
Experienced labor and delivery nurses are highly valued by employers. Labor and delivery nurses should expect to earn 15% more than they did as entry-level nurses after one to four years on the job. L&D RNs with five to nine years of experience can expect to earn 22% more than their peers with one to four years of experience. Labor and delivery RNs with two or more decades of experience earn 24% more than L&D nurses with 10 to 19 years of experience and more than double the labor and delivery nurse compensation.
Another reason why more experienced RNs earn higher labor and delivery nurse salaries could be: According to several research, older and more experienced nurses had greater labor support skills. Labor support is highly regarded since it can reduce the need for medical interventions during childbirth.
|Level of Experience||Hourly||Weekly||Monthly||Annual|
|1-4 Years of Experience||$24.88||$995||$4,310||$51,740|
|5-9 Years of Experience||$30.40||$1,216||$5,270||$63,240|
|10-19 Years of Experience||$37.77||$1,511||$6,550||$78,570|
|20 Years or More Experience||$46.91||$1,877||$8,130||$97,580|
What is the process of becoming a labor and delivery nurse?
When learning how to become a labor and delivery nurse, you will discover that substantial education and training are required. If you’re interested in becoming an L&D nurse, complete these steps:
1. Get a degree
Aspiring L&D nurses must complete an ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) or BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) programme that is approved. On applications, four-year degrees are deemed more competitive. Some classes you can take to help you become an L&D include:
- Pharmacology for women and infants
- Fundamentals of Nursing
- Nursing ethics
- Theoretical clinical practise
2. Pass the NCLEX-RN examination
Aspiring L&D nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The goal of this exam is to assess whether or not you are qualified to practise nursing. The exam includes scenarios in which you must use your nursing knowledge to make appropriate decisions. Those taking the exam have six hours to answer at least 60 questions. The questions are divided into four groups:
- Care environment that is both safe and effective
- Promotion and maintenance of health
- Psychosocial integrity
- Physiological integrity
3. Obtain certification
Labor and delivery nurses must also be certified in the following areas:
Basic Life Support (BLS) certification demonstrates that individuals understand how to recognise life-threatening symptoms. It involves physical training such as effective chest compression techniques, how to operate a defibrillator, and how to provide ventilation.
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS): This certification demonstrates that individuals understand proper resuscitation protocols, updated drug administration methods, how to interpret an ECG, and how to spot the indicators of life-threatening conditions such as stroke.
4. Look for work
It’s time to compile your résumé and apply for jobs when you’ve obtained the necessary degree, qualifications, and experience. The job market for nurses is improving, but becoming a labor and delivery nurse is difficult. Nurses may begin their careers as general resident nurses and advance to L&D nursing as their careers improve.
What skills should a labor and delivery nurse have?
Due to the high-pressure nature of the job, labor and delivery nurses must constantly polish their skill set. Pursuing extra certifications and learning through observing other senior nurses are also effective strategies to improve abilities. Some useful abilities for an L&D nurse include:
Communication abilities: During the delivery process, L&D nurses must communicate well with the mother, family members, and other medical experts. L&D nurses must also have great writing communication abilities because they frequently take long notes about their patients.
Patient assessment: Because difficulties in pregnant women can occur rapidly, it is critical that L&D nurses assess their patients and monitor their progress every hour. An L&D nurse may monitor their patient’s discomfort level, verify the position of the fetus, and measure cervix dilation during an assessment.
Prioritization of patients: L&D nurses frequently supervise many patients at the same time. As a result, it is critical that they can analyze their patients and accurately prioritize which patients require assistance first.
Problem-solving: When it comes to delivering newborns, L&D nurses must think swiftly and critically in order to keep both the baby and the mother safe.
Bedside manner refers to how nurses interact with their patients. It is showing them warmth and respect for their humanity.
What is the average time it takes to become a labor and delivery nurse?
The length of time it takes to become an L&D nurse is strongly influenced by how much study you choose to pursue. It can take roughly 2-3 years to complete an ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) programme. A BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree may take 3-4 years to complete. Consider how long it will take you to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and obtain your qualifications.
How do I go about becoming a labor and delivery nurse?
Earn your RN and then apply to work on a labor and delivery ward to become an L&D nurse. Some hospitals allow L&D nurses to apply right out of school, while others may prefer nurses to have some general med/surg floor experience.
Is labor and delivery nursing difficult?
Labor and delivery nursing can be tough, especially when pregnancy concerns arise, but it is a highly rewarding job.
Is there a difference between a labor and delivery nurse and a midwife?
No. A Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse who has completed a Master’s programme.