Maternity nurses assist women during childbirth and care for them and their babies until they leave the hospital.
These nurses perform many duties throughout the labor and delivery process, such as monitoring the mother’s blood pressure and other vital signs as well as the fetal heartbeat. They use this information to put together an individualized care plan for each patient. Other duties include:
- Checking dilatation of the cervix
- Assisting new mothers with breastfeeding
- Teaching new mothers how to bathe, change, and feed their babies
- Administering drugs to induce labor (when allowed by state law)
Types of Nurses in Maternity Care
There are several types of nurses who work in maternity care. They include licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives. Many of them work under the direct supervision of obstetricians as valuable members of a labor and delivery team.
Maternity nurses that have advanced training often function independently. Some states even allow nurse midwives and practitioners to run their own practices. They can deliver babies either in a hospital or home setting, make decisions, and prescribe medications.
Maternity nurses can work in a variety of settings including:
- Birthing centers
- Correctional facilities
- Fertility clinics
- Midwifery practices
- Obstetrics practices
- Military hospitals
- Specialized school settings
The work environment may vary based on certification and training.
Licensed Practical Nurses – Usually play a supporting role in a labor and delivery setting by checking vital signs and performing administrative tasks.
Registered Nurses – Plan and deliver patient care in labor and delivery wards, nurseries, and operating rooms.
Advanced Practice Nurses (clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners) – Often work in community health centers, obstetrics offices, and private practices. Some also work as teachers, policy makers, and researchers.
Maternity nurses should possess the following skills:
- Be emotionally and psychically resilient
- Have the ability to teach
- Have strong critical-thinking skills
- Have good listening skills
Licensed Practical Nurses – You can find accredited programs that include classroom and hands-on learning at community colleges and vocational schools.
Registered Nurses – Many hospitals require maternity nurses to be licensed as registered nurses as opposed to licensed practical nurses. To become an RN, you must earn an associate degree or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited institution. Courses include chemistry, human anatomy, and nutrition.
Advanced Practice Nurses – These registered nurses continued their education to earn a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing. This requires anywhere from two to five years of post bachelor’s study at the graduate level. Courses include advanced maternity nursing and health promotion, advanced maternity nursing training, and the history of midwifery.
Employers often provide on-the-job training to those who are new to the maternity field. For entry-level nurses, this lasts approximately three months, and six to eight weeks for those who have more experience but have not worked in maternity nursing.
All states require both licensed practical nurses and registered nurses to be licensed. This requires passing the National Council Licensure Exam. Advanced practice nurses must obtain certification in a nursing specialty. Exams are administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of a licensed practical nurse and registered nurse is expected to grow 22% and 26% respectively until 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Licensed practical nurses generally earn between $29,000 and $56,000 depending on their experience and job duties.
Registered nurses can expect to earn around $64,000. Wages are usually highest in large urban hospitals and will increase with experience.
Advanced practice nurses earn anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 yearly.
If you have any questions about becoming a maternity nurse, contact us today for more information.