What Is A Labor And Delivery Nurse? | NurseJournal.org (2024)

Share this article


What Is A Labor And Delivery Nurse? | NurseJournal.org (10)


Updated August 1, 2023

Reviewed by

Our Integrity Network

NurseJournal.org is committed to delivering content that is objective and actionable. To that end, we have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the most helpful information to our readers.

Drawing on their firsthand industry expertise, our Integrity Network members serve as an additional step in our editing process, helping us confirm our content is accurate and up to date. These contributors:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Integrity Network members typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for NurseJournal.org as a side project. All Integrity Network members are paid members of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Explore our full list of Integrity Network members.

  • Career Overview
  • Work Settings
  • L&D Nurse vs. Certified Nurse Midwife
  • How to Become
  • Salary
  • FAQ

Learn about labor and delivery nurse jobs and salaries and how to become a labor and delivery nurse.

What Is A Labor And Delivery Nurse? | NurseJournal.org (11)

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

What Is A Labor And Delivery Nurse? | NurseJournal.org (12)Credit: FG Trade / Getty Images

A labor and delivery (L&D) nurse supports patients during and after birth under the supervision of a nurse midwife or physician. They also care for infants immediately after delivery. These registered nurses (RNs) often work in birthing centers, delivery rooms, and hospital maternity units.

Labor and delivery nurses must have excellent communication, assessment, and teaching skills. They excel in providing supportive services to help new parents navigate the birthing process. Learn more about how to become an L&D nurse, what they do, and where they work.

How Long to Become:
2-4 years

Job Outlook:
6% growth from 2021-2031

Average Annual Salary:

What Does a Labor and Delivery Nurse Do?

Diploma, ADN, or BSN Required

Certification Recommended

An L&D nurse closely monitors the condition of patients during every step of labor and birth, providing intervention when needed. These nurses care for the newborn during the postpartum period (i.e., immediately after birth). Labor and delivery nurses also administer medication, closely monitor vital signs, and educate patients and their spouses/partners and other family members.

The L&D unit is faced-paced, and nurses must respond to obstetric emergencies when they occur. The labor and delivery environment combines emergency nursing, critical care, surgical (if the patient requires a c-section), and recovery. This environment can be very exciting and challenging to work in as a nurse.

What Is A Labor And Delivery Nurse? | NurseJournal.org (13)

KidStock / Photodisc / Getty Images

Key Responsibilities

  • Care for the patient and infant throughout labor, birth, and immediate postpartum phase
  • Provide psychological and emotional support
  • Monitor the patient and newborn’s condition and escalate treatment as necessary

Career Traits

  • Empathy
  • Communication with patients and other caregivers
  • Ability to make quick decisions

Featured Online MSN Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Learn More

Visit Site

Learn More

Visit Site

Where Do Labor and Delivery Nurses Work?

Labor and delivery nurses typically work in acute care centers on maternity units, in delivery rooms, and in birthing centers. They can also assist patients during home births.

Delivery Room

Assisting and encouraging the patient, monitoring labor progress, calling in specialists or otherwise escalating care as needed.

Maternity Ward

Tending to patients and newborns, monitoring vital signs, and educating families on infant care.

Birthing Center

Assisting during labor and postpartum, monitoring progress and vital signs, referring to hospital care if needed, caring for the newborn and patient during the initial postpartum period.

What Is the Difference Between an L&D Nurse and a Certified Nurse Midwife?

L&D nurses and nurse midwives are RNs, but a nurse midwife has more advanced training and certification. Nurse midwives may also work with patients throughout pregnancy—not just labor and delivery.

Labor and Delivery Nurse

  • Works with one patient in active labor at a time
  • Cares for patient throughout the birthing process
  • Has RN license
  • Carries out nurse midwife’s or physician’s orders, such as inducing labor

Certified Nurse Midwife

  • May work with multiple patients at once during labor
  • May care for patients throughout pregnancy
  • Has RN license, nurse midwife certification, and master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP)
  • Makes critical decisions

How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse

The minimum requirement to become a labor and delivery nurse is an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and an RN license, including a passing score on the NCLEX exam.

Experience in the obstetrics field and certification in obstetric nursing (RNC-OB) gives nurse candidates a competitive edge in the job market. Employers often require L&D nurses to get certification in neonatal resuscitation.

How Much Do Labor and Delivery Nurses Make?

The average salary for labor and delivery nurses is $70,040 as of December 2022, according to Payscale. Payscale also reports that the average base salary for RNC-OB certified nurses is $84K annually.

Many factors influence labor and delivery nurses’ salaries, including their geographic area, level of education, experience level, and whether they are RNC-OB certified.

The job outlook for L&D nurses is good. The BLS projects a 6% growth rate for all RNs in 2021-2031, which is about as fast as average.

Frequently Asked Questions About Labor and Delivery Nurses

How long does it take to become a labor and delivery nurse?

It takes at least two years to earn an ADN plus the required certifications to become a L&D nurse. However, acquiring a four-year BSN leads to higher salaries and more opportunities for advancement.

What can you do as a labor and delivery nurse?

As an L&D nurse, you can work in a hospital, birthing center, or other healthcare setting assisting patients giving birth and caring for newborns. You can also use the position as a stepping-stone to a nurse midwife position, which entails more responsibility and higher compensation.

What career advancement opportunities are available for labor and delivery nurses?

Advancement opportunities for labor and delivery nurses include becoming a nurse midwife or pursuing certification in inpatient obstetric care. Nurse midwives can supervise other L&D nurses and have sole medical oversight over a birth.

What is the difference between a labor and delivery nurse and a neonatal nurse?

A neonatal nurse‘s primary responsibility is care for newborns with various health problems. An L&D nurse’s primary responsibility is assisting the patient through delivery and labor and initial care of the infant. For births without complications, the L&D nurse may care for both the patient and infant until their release from the hospital.

Resources for Labor and Delivery Nurses

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

AWHONN serves nurses through advocacy, networking, and offering professional continuing education, including courses for L&D nurses such as fetal heart monitoring. Membership is open to nurses and any other interested parties, but only RNs can vote or hold office.

American College of Nurse-Midwives

ACNM provides professional education for certified nurse midwives and certified midwives and advocates for the profession. Certified midwives and nurse midwives can be full members, but others can join as nonvoting members.

National Association of Neonatal Nurses

NANN develops and delivers continuing education and development (including an annual conference), publishes a journal and newsletters, and offers fellowships. Membership is open to nursing students as well as RNs.

Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health

The NPWH provides continuing professional education, conducts research, and advocates for policies that advance both women’s health and nurse practitioners. The majority of members are practitioners, but there are membership categories for other women’s health specialists and students.

Related Pages

How to Become a Registered NurseLearn how to become a registered nurse, whether you are straight out of high school or have taken some college courses.Feb 25, 2022
Registered Nursing Requirements by StateRN license requirements vary by state. Use this guide to find out how to earn an RN license in each state and the significance of the Nursing Licensure Compact.Mar 3, 2022
The Fastest Paths to Becoming a NurseWant to begin a nursing career as quickly as possible? Find out how long it takes to become a nurse and how fast you can start your nursing career.Jan 20, 2022
The Best Online ABSN ProgramsABSN programs are a great option for aspiring nurses who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. Learn more about fast-track BSN degrees and find the top online programs.Feb 25, 2022

Page last reviewed on December 13, 2022

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.

What Is A Labor And Delivery Nurse? | NurseJournal.org (18)

You might be interested in

Best Online Nursing Programs and DegreesOverwhelmed by the abundance of online nursing programs? This guide can help you navigate the possibilities and narrow down the options.Mar 2, 2022
Nurse Practitioner Career OverviewCertified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Career Overview
What Is A Labor And Delivery Nurse? | NurseJournal.org (2024)


What Is A Labor And Delivery Nurse? | NurseJournal.org? ›

Labor and delivery nurses have specialized clinical duties such as monitoring fetal heart tones, identifying risks for pregnant individuals and newborns, and assessing the progress of labor. They also might assist in the operating room during cesarean sections, administer medications, and provide emotional support.

What is the role of the labor and delivery nurse? ›

A labor and delivery (L&D) nurse supports patients during and after birth under the supervision of a nurse midwife or physician. They also care for infants immediately after delivery.

What is the difference between a labor and delivery nurse and an OB nurse? ›

These include neonatal nurses, who care for mothers immediately before, during, and after labor; and labor and delivery nurses, who focus on providing care during delivery. Unlike those specialists, an OB nurse provides care starting during the early stages of pregnancy or even when a woman is trying to conceive.

Is labor and delivery nursing hard? ›

L&D nurses will tell you it is hard but rewarding work. The hours can be long. L&D nurses generally work 12-hour shifts. But because of the bond they form with the laboring patient, it's not unusual for nurses to stay past their shift change to be there when the baby is born.

Are labor and delivery nurses trained to deliver babies? ›

They're trained to monitor both the mother and baby and recognize potential problems that can happen during or after childbirth. L&D nurses assist during both vagin*l births and c-sections. Labor and delivery nurses may also provide postpartum or newborn care depending on the hospital.

What are the nurses that deliver babies called? ›

One registered nurse (RN) specialty in the hospital setting is labor and delivery (L&D). A career in L&D nursing is often considered to be fast-paced, patient-centric and multifaceted. L&D nurses care for women who are laboring, have complications of pregnancy or have recently given birth.

What are the nurses who take care of babies after birth called? ›

A neonatal nurse is a nurse that works specifically with newborn babies typically in their first month of life. Most often, neonatal nurses work with infants who face specific challenges right after birth including birth defects, heart problems, prematurity, and more.

Do labor and delivery nurses perform c-sections? ›

The attending physician performs planned and emergency C-sections, while labor and delivery nurses assist in the operating room and oversee patient recovery.

How many patients do labor and delivery nurses have? ›

The recommended nurse-patient ratio in labor and delivery units is 1:1 or 1:2, meaning one nurse per one or two patients. This close attention is crucial during the vulnerable time of labor and delivery to monitor the patient and fetus, provide supportive care, and act quickly in case of complications.

Is a labor and delivery nurse the same as a postpartum nurse? ›

Labor and delivery nurses provide care to mothers during childbirth, monitoring them and the baby, assisting in labor pains, and preparing for emergencies. On the other hand, postpartum nurses focus on the mother's recovery after delivery.

What is the easiest nursing job? ›

8 Easiest Nursing Jobs
  • School Nurse. Average Annual Salary (April 2024): $51,500. ...
  • Nurse Educator. Average Annual Salary (April 2024): $84,000. ...
  • Primary Care Nurse. ...
  • Informatics Nurse. ...
  • Clinical Research Nurse. ...
  • Occupational Health Nurse. ...
  • Lactation Consultant Nurse. ...
  • Home Care Registered Nurse.

What is the hardest job in nursing? ›

Overall, being an intensive care unit nurse is not for the faint of heart, and it just may be one of the hardest nursing specialties out there.

How many days a week do L&D nurses work? ›

What hours do labor and delivery nurses work? Labor and delivery nurses typically work 12-hour long shifts. Three 12-hour shifts per week are common, allowing labor and delivery nurses to have sufficient time off during the week or to pick up overtime hours.

Do labor and delivery nurses give epidurals? ›

You can expect to receive 1-2 liters of IV fluids throughout labor and delivery. An anesthesiologist (specialize in administering anesthesia), an obstetrician or nurse anesthetist will administer your epidural.

Do labor and delivery nurses work in the NICU? ›

Neonatal nurse work environments are divided into four levels of care based on rising acuity. Each subsequent level has the capabilities of the previous levels. Labor and delivery nurses work within the first level, while NICU nurses work in the second level and beyond.

Why do I love being a labor delivery nurse? ›

For many, it's the competitive salary and in-demand job opportunities, while for others it's witnessing the miracle of life and advocating for mothers and their babies.

What is the role of the nurse in the first stage of labor? ›

In addition, the nurse assesses the following: vital signs, physical exam, contraction pattern (frequency, interval, duration, and intensity), intactness of membranes through a vagin*l exam, and fetal well-being through fetal heart rate, characteristic of amniotic fluid, and contractions.

What is a typical day in the life of a labor and delivery nurse? ›

There is no such thing as a typical day as a labor and delivery nurse. While I do expect to deliver babies each shift, no two deliveries are the same. Each mother has her own unique set of circ*mstances and needs that require intricate observation and care.

What is the best part of labor and delivery nurse? ›

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a Labor & Delivery nurse is the unparalleled sense of joy and fulfillment that comes from assisting mothers as they bring new life into the world. Witnessing the miracle of birth and being a part of that transformative experience is a unique privilege.

What are some interesting facts about labor and delivery nurses? ›

During labor, these nurse specialists will be monitoring both the baby's heartbeat and the mother's vitals. They will be the first responder to any complications. And when the physician is called in, they are second in command and act as the primary advocate for the mother.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jonah Leffler

Last Updated:

Views: 5764

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jonah Leffler

Birthday: 1997-10-27

Address: 8987 Kieth Ports, Luettgenland, CT 54657-9808

Phone: +2611128251586

Job: Mining Supervisor

Hobby: Worldbuilding, Electronics, Amateur radio, Skiing, Cycling, Jogging, Taxidermy

Introduction: My name is Jonah Leffler, I am a determined, faithful, outstanding, inexpensive, cheerful, determined, smiling person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.