Description: RNs in Labor and Delivery (L&D) practice provide care to mothers and newborns before, during and after the actual stages of labor and delivery. During the antepartum phase, the RN may see mothers-to-be in the obstetricianís office or in a clinic. At that time the focus is on monitoring the pregnancy and teaching women healthy pregnancy behaviors. Once labor begins, RNs will provide care in the hospital or birthing center; they will assess each mother and baby and develop an individualized plan of care. During the birthing process, the RN remains an integral part of the health care team, caring for and supporting the mother, her partner and the baby. In the post partum phase the RN will not only care for the new mother and child but will do some very intense teaching of the parents in preparation for the return home. Some L&D RNs may choose to move their practice into the neonatal nursery or neonatal ICU where they focus on providing direct care for the infant while also supporting and teaching the parents.
Job Outlook: Nursing as a whole will be one of the top 10 fastest growing professions in the U.S. in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor and Delivery nursing, however, will remain a relatively constant filed as the US birthrate remains stable.
Opportunities: RNís specializing in Labor and Delivery may practice in a variety of settings: in the office of an OB-GYN practice, in a hospital Labor and Delivery suite or in a clinics birthing center, in a hospitalís general or ICU nursery.
Challenges: L&D nursing requires empathy, critical thinking, decision-making, and communication skills. Most L&D registered nurses have some general medical-surgical nursing background. L&D nurses must be able to communicate well with patients, families, and other health care providers. They must be skilled in prioritizing patient needs and cope well with a fast-paced, sometimes stressful environment.