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How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse

Nurse Mike (Mike Linares)
By SimpleNursing | Published May 3rd, 2023
Published May 3rd, 2023
Newborn baby with his mother at hospital. Nurse taking personal data from mother and talking to her. Mother holding newborn baby.

If you are passionate about helping pregnant patients bring new life into the world, becoming a labor and delivery nurse may be the perfect career for you. Labor and delivery nursing is an exciting and rewarding field that offers a unique opportunity to bring new life into the world. 

This role involves working closely with expectant mothers and their families during one of the most memorable times in their lives. 

Jump to Sections


  1. What do labor and delivery nurses do?
  2. How much do labor and delivery nurses make?
  3. Labor and Delivery Nurse Education Requirements
  4. 5 Steps to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse

What do labor and delivery nurses do?

Labor and delivery nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in providing care to patients during childbirth. They work closely with obstetricians, midwives, and other health care professionals to ensure a safe and healthy delivery for both the mother and baby. 

Their primary role is to ensure that both the mother and baby are healthy and safe throughout labor and delivery. Labor and delivery nurses work in various settings, including hospitals, birth centers, and homes.

The duties of labor and delivery nurses vary depending on the stage of labor and delivery and the specific needs of the mother and baby. Some of the essential duties of labor and delivery nurses include:

  • Monitoring vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature, throughout the labor and delivery process.
  • Assessing fetal heart rate and contractions by using electronic fetal monitoring to ensure that the baby is not in distress.
  • Administering medication to manage pain and discomfort during labor and delivery, including epidurals and other pain relief techniques.
  • Coaching and supporting the mother throughout the labor and delivery process, including coaching the mother on breathing techniques and positioning during labor.
  • Assisting during delivery with the obstetrician or midwife, including monitoring the mother’s pushing and providing assistance with any necessary interventions (such as forceps or vacuum extraction).

How much do labor and delivery nurses make?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for labor and delivery nurses is $124,852/year

However, the exact salary ranges can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and education level. Labor and delivery nurses working in metropolitan areas or specialized healthcare settings may earn a higher salary than those in rural areas or general medical and surgical hospitals.

Labor and Delivery Nurse Education Requirements

To become a labor and delivery nurse, you must first obtain a nursing degree and become a registered nurse (RN). There are several education paths you can take to become an RN, including:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) – This two-year degree program focuses on the basics of nursing theory and practice. While an ADN degree can qualify you to become an RN, many employers prefer candidates with a BSN degree.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – This four-year degree program provides a comprehensive education in nursing theory and practice. 

Once you have obtained your nursing degree and become an RN, you can then specialize in labor and delivery nursing by completing additional education and training.

5 Steps to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse

1. Earn a Degree.

The first step to becoming a labor and delivery nurse is to obtain the proper education. You will need to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited college or university.

While earning your degree, you may have the opportunity to take courses or participate in clinical rotations that focus specifically on labor and delivery nursing. This coursework will give you a deeper understanding of the labor and delivery process and the role of the nurse in the delivery room.

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN and obtain RN licensure.

Once you have earned your degree, the next step is to obtain your nursing license. To become a licensed registered nurse (RN), you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). The NCLEX-RN is a standardized exam that assesses your knowledge and competency in nursing practice.

To prepare for the NCLEX-RN, you can take practice tests and review materials that are available online or through nursing schools. It is essential to start preparing for the NCLEX-RN early, so you can feel confident and well-prepared on test day.

3. Gain clinical experience.

After obtaining your nursing license, the next step is to gain clinical experience in obstetric nursing. You may be able to gain this experience through internships, clinical rotations, or entry-level positions at hospitals or birthing centers.

During your clinical time, you will work alongside experienced labor and delivery nurses and gain hands-on experience caring for mothers and babies during the labor and delivery process. These opportunities are invaluable and will prepare you for a career in labor and delivery nursing.

4. Obtain required certification (depending on your state).

Once you have gained clinical experience, the next step is to obtain necessary certification from your state’s nursing board. Some states may or may not require additional certification from working labor and delivery nurses.

If you do, you will need to pass an exam that assesses your knowledge and competency in labor and delivery nursing. 

5. Consider additional certification.

Although they’re not required for labor and delivery nursing positions, earning an additional certification can be a plus for your resume. One of the most popular certifications is the Credential in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing.

Why Choose a Digital NCLEX Study Prep Tool?

As you prepare for the NCLEX-RN exam, you may find that a digital study prep tool can help you feel more confident and well-prepared. 

SimpleNursing offers several advantages in addition to traditional study methods, including better memorization and easier connection to nursing concepts. We offer all the content you need to study in less time while building your confidence to ace the NCLEX

Find out how we help NCLEX-takers pass on the first try.

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Nurse Mike (Mike Linares)
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Editorial Team

Education: SimpleNursing Editorial Team Education