How To Become A Labor And Delivery Nurse: A Step-By-Step Guide (2024)

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

In 2021, roughly 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S.—more than 10,000 babies a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each birth requires a team of healthcare professionals, often including labor and delivery (L&D) nurses, to ensure a healthy delivery.

As a healthcare provider, bringing new life into the world can be demanding but also fulfilling. Read on to discover how to become a labor and delivery nurse.

Why You Can Trust Forbes Advisor Education

Forbes Advisor’s education editors are committed to producing unbiased rankings and informative articles covering online colleges, tech bootcamps and career paths. Our ranking methodologies use data from the National Center for Education Statistics, education providers, and reputable educational and professional organizations. An advisory board of educators and other subject matter experts reviews and verifies our content to bring you trustworthy, up-to-date information. Advertisers do not influence our rankings or editorial content.

  • 6,290 accredited, nonprofit colleges and universities analyzed nationwide
  • 52 reputable tech bootcamp providers evaluated for our rankings
  • All content is fact-checked and updated on an annual basis
  • Rankings undergo five rounds of fact-checking
  • Only 7.12% of all colleges, universities and bootcamp providers we consider are awarded

What Does a Labor and Delivery Nurse Do?

Delivering newborns is only part of an L&D nurse’s role. Ultimately, these nurses must ensure both birthing parent and child are safe and healthy at the hospital or clinic.

Role and Responsibilities

L&D nurses assist patients before, during and after delivery. They help pregnant people prepare for birth, assist with delivery and provide aftercare. L&D nurses monitor patients’ vital signs, induce labor and administer epidurals and other medications. They also coach patients during labor and track contractions.

After delivery, labor and delivery nurses support patients and families by educating them on newborn care and creating individualized care plans before discharge.

Work Environment

Labor and delivery nurses may work in hospitals, clinics, physician offices and maternity and birthing centers. Some L&D nurses work nights or weekends.

Roles might vary depending on work environments, but no two days look alike for L&D nurses. L&D nurses may prepare patients for epidurals and C-sections or provide intensive care to infants.

According to the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses, nurse staffing standards suggest labor and delivery nurses should care for no more than three patient-baby couplets per shift. Most L&D nurses work 12-hour shifts, which can be physically and emotionally demanding but also allows nurses four days off each week.

How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse

Get an Education

Registered nurses (RNs) must complete a nursing diploma, an associate in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. If you’re debating between an ADN vs. a BSN, choosing a BSN may lead to more advanced job opportunities and better prepare you to become a labor and delivery nurse. Completing an ADN takes at least two years, while a BSN degree takes at least four.

Pass the NCLEX-RN

Nurses in the U.S. must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become a licensed RN. There’s a $200 registration fee, and you’ll need to apply to your local nursing regulatory body for authorization to test.

Obtain RN Licensure

After passing the NCLEX, you can become an RN. Licensing requirements vary by state. Some states have lengthier processes; others grant same-day temporary licenses to eligible nurses. Check your state’s nursing licensure requirements before applying.

Consider Specialized Certification

Obtaining certification isn’t required to become a labor and delivery nurse, but it’s strongly recommended to become a more competitive candidate in the field.

Labor and delivery nurses commonly earn the NCC Credential in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB)®. To qualify for the RNC-OB designation, you must have two years of professional experience consisting of at least 2,000 hours of specialty experience in patient intake, labor, delivery and aftercare processes for patients and newborns, plus an unencumbered RN license in the U.S. or Canada.

Other NCC credentials for L&D nurses include inpatient antepartum nursing and maternal newborn nursing certifications. These exams also require two years of work experience, including at least 2,000 hours.

Consider Becoming an APRN

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives. These professionals often serve as primary care practitioners and must obtain graduate degrees such as a master’s in nursing or a doctorate in nursing.

APRNs can order tests, prescribe medications and evaluate and diagnose patient problems. The median pay for APRNs was $123,780 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Labor and Delivery Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

In 2021, the median pay for all registered nurses, including labor and delivery nurses, was $77,600 per year, according to the BLS.

Jobs for RNs are projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, which is on par with the average growth rate across other occupations. The BLS projects the employment of APRNs, on the other hand, to grow 40% from 2021 to 2031.

The BLS projects an average of 203,200 openings per year for RNs from 2021 to 2031. In that same time frame, BLS expects an average of 30,200 openings for APRNs annually.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse

What’s the difference between a labor and delivery nurse and a midwife?

A midwife is not a nurse but typically obtains a healthcare-related degree from a midwifery program. Labor and delivery nurses are registered nurses who may work alongside midwives during the birthing process.

Is it hard to get into labor and delivery nursing?

Nursing in general is competitive, and labor and delivery nursing is a popular specialty in the field. However, specialized experience and certifications can put you at a competitive advantage.

How To Become A Labor And Delivery Nurse: A Step-By-Step Guide (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Eusebia Nader

Last Updated:

Views: 6221

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Eusebia Nader

Birthday: 1994-11-11

Address: Apt. 721 977 Ebert Meadows, Jereville, GA 73618-6603

Phone: +2316203969400

Job: International Farming Consultant

Hobby: Reading, Photography, Shooting, Singing, Magic, Kayaking, Mushroom hunting

Introduction: My name is Eusebia Nader, I am a encouraging, brainy, lively, nice, famous, healthy, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.