July 5, 2022
By: Terri Heimann Oppenheimer
Medically reviewed by Kathleen Gaines, MSN, RN, BA, CBC
Labor and delivery (L&D) nurses are unique among the different types of nurses because they have a very specific job: to help deliver healthy babies and get moms through the process safely. In essence, they are doing what some might consider the most important nursing job of all — bringing new lives into this world. Read on to find out how to become a labor and delivery nurse, the education requirements, the average labor and delivery nurse salary, and more.
L&D nurses begin as Registered Nurses (RN) and may become Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) such as OB/GYN Nurse Practitioners, but ultimately, they pursue some level of specialty training to help women deliver babies.
Unlike many general staff RN jobs, where the kind of patient care you administer runs the gamut, labor and delivery nurses have a very specific function – to work with women who are about to give birth.
While most labor and delivery nurses work in hospitals, there are more and more birthing centers opening throughout the country.
For anyone who's interested in becoming a labor and delivery nurse, the good news is that position will always be in demand, whether it's in a hospital, birthing center, or clinic. By gaining experience as a Registered Nurse and then specializing in L&D, you can choose this fulfilling and gratifying career track.
L&D nurses work with just a few patients per day, monitoring their progress, and handling whatever new development comes their way.
After birth, they continue to care for the mothers until they are released from the hospital. This care is more complex for mothers who give birth via C-section, or who have some other medical complication.
Some of the primary responsibilities of an L&D nurse include:
- Monitoring both the baby’s and mother’s vital signs, including heart rate and blood pressure
- Timing contractions
- Identifying and assisting with handling complications
- Helping to administer medications and epidurals
- Aiding in inducing labor
- Coaching new mothers throughout the duration of the labor and delivery
- And, of course, there’s also a lot of hand-holding, encouragement, and comforting going on in birthing rooms as well.
The median annual salary for all RNs is$77,600 per year, or $37.31 per houraccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021, though conditions vary by area. Labor and Delivery nurses will typically earn around that salary, with some earning more, depending on the location and type of institution. Those with advanced skills and experience can earn more as well.
Highest Paying States for Labor and Delivery Nurses
|$121,423/yr or $58.38/hr|
|$116,890/yr or $56.20/hr|
|$116,594/yr or $56.05/hr|
|$115,911/yr or $55.73/hr|
|$115,257/yr or $55.41/hr|
1. Become a Registered Nurse
Before you can specialize or choose to remain in a particular hospital unit like L&D, you must first become a Registered Nurse. To do so, you have to graduate from a program of study that is approved by your State Nursing Board, either a bachelor’s degree or associate degree program.
2. Pass the NCLEX
Upon completion, you have to pass the NCLEX-RN. From there, you can begin practicing and look for opportunities to gain experience in L&D units.
3. Advance Your Education
To advance in this career, additional education is required beyond the RN degree program. Some choose to become Nurse Practitioners in Obstetrics and Gynecology. These highly specialized nurses are needed to handle very high-risk patients and special circumstances and complications.
Another route L&D nurses can take is to become Certified Nurse-Midwives. That requires earning the Certified Nurse-Midwife and Certified Midwife designations through the American Midwifery Certification Board.
4. Earn Certifications
Another way to bolster your credentials as an RN is to earn a certification in your field of interest. For L&D nurses, that would usually be the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) certification through the National Certification Corporation. Becoming a Certified Labor and Delivery Nurse can give you an edge and make you more marketable.
>> Explore L&D Certification Review Materials*
With so many nurses coming into retirement age in the next decade, the nursing shortage is here to stay for a long time. And because L&D nursing is physically demanding, requiring long shifts, it’s particularly suited for new nurses who have to, in a sense, labor right alongside their patients.
In other words, as far as job prospects go, specializing in L&D will help power up your job security even more. To get an idea of just how many nurses will be needed, consider that theBureau of Labor Statistics predicts the field to grow at a rate of 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Top 10 Labor and Delivery Nurse Programs
This list is based on a number of factors including:
- NCLEX pass rate
- Acceptance rate, when available
- Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible
Labor and delivery nurses complete various levels of education, so this list takes into account all degree levels.
Our selection panel is made up of 3 Registered Nurses with years of experience and multiple degrees:
- Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
- Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
- Kathleen Gaines, MSN, BSN, RN, BA, CBC
There are numerous labor and delivery nursing programs and our panel of nurses ranked them based on factors mentioned in the methodology. Because individual nursing pathways and careers take various forms, the top 10 labor and delivery nurse programs are ranked in no particular order.
1. University of Pennsylvania
Program Length: 4 years
Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania is among the oldest and most well-respected universities in the nation. With a low student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1, Penn students get a high level of one-on-one time with professors. Future labor and delivery nurses should consider the undergraduate BSN, a four-year degree with good NCLEX outcomes. Those looking to further their education should consider Penn's top-notch nurse-midwifery or women's health MSN programs.
2. University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,925 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $26,452
Program Length: 4 years
While probably best known for its sports, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is also one of the best public universities. U-M boasts one of the best undergraduate nursing programs, a four-year BSN that's particularly affordable for Michigan residents. The university also offers several nurse-midwifery MSN options, so labor and delivery nurses can specialize in their education and career even further. U-M graduates also join an extensive alumni network which could make it easier to gain labor and delivery experience early on in your career.
3. Columbia University
Annual Tuition: $89,858
Program Length: 15 months
Located in New York City, Columbia University is known for regularly producing high-caliber graduates who become experts in their field. Those interested in becoming labor and delivery nurses through Columbia take a non-traditional route. The university offers a pre-licensure MSN for those with non-nursing undergraduate degrees. Earning an MSN could make it easier to land in labor and delivery early on. Columbia also offers a DNP in nurse-midwifery for those who want to earn the highest level of education possible.
4. University of Texas at Austin
Annual In-State Tuition: $12,040 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $43,460
Program Length: 4 years
With over 51,000 students, the University of Texas at Austin is one of the larger schools that future labor and delivery nurses might attend. As with other schools on this list, the University of Texas at Austin boasts a solid BSN program, and the school's connection with the extensive University of Texas system means students could gain clinical experience at some of the top hospitals in the region. Similarly, local Texas hospitals might prefer to hire a recent Texas graduate, making this an excellent choice for anyone interested in labor and delivery nursing in Texas.
5. University of North Carolina
In-State Tuition: $32,255 Out-of-State Tuition: $91,120
Program Length: 4 years
The University of North Carolina is among the top public schools. Great for research and healthcare, nearly every type of nurse can succeed with a degree from UNC. The BSN, available in a traditional four-year or an accelerated four-semester option, prepares students for success in any field. Those who can take advantage of UNC's low in-state tuition should definitely consider this top-ranked program.
6. Emory University
Annual Tuition: $53,070
Program Length: 4 years
Emory University is a private school best known for its incredible healthcare system. Like other great programs, a nursing degree from Emory essentially prepares you for any nursing career. Aside from the BSN, Emory also offers graduate degrees in nurse-midwifery and women's health, two great options for labor and delivery nurses. While the costs are steep, Emory notes that students do not pay the cost of attendance. Instead, this high cost is used as a bar before determining financial aid, and most students pay a lower rate than what's listed.
7. Yale University
Annual Tuition: $67,119
Program Length: 4 years
An Ivy School located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University regularly offers financial aid to students who struggle with tuition, making this a surprisingly affordable option for many students -- assuming they get through the highly competitive admissions process. While Yale doesn't have an undergraduate program for nurses, its nurse-midwifery and women's health NP program rank among the best graduate degrees in the labor and delivery field.
8. University of Washington
Quarterly In-State Tuition: $4,026 Quarterly Out-of-State Tuition: $13,302
Program Length: 4 years
The only West Coast school to make this list, the University of Washington is a regional leader in healthcare, and nursing students gain valuable clinical experience at the school's healthcare facilities. Aspiring labor and delivery nurses without a nursing license should enroll in the BSN, one of the best undergraduate programs in the region. Those looking to continue their education should pursue a DNP in nurse-midwifery or women's health clinical nurse specialist. As a public school, Washington residents get a low in-state tuition rate, too.
9. New York University
Annual Tuition: $37,918
Program Length: 4 years
Created in 1831, New York University is among the best research universities worldwide, great for any labor and delivery nurses looking to advance their careers and earn graduate degrees. Of course, labor and delivery nurses must first earn an undergraduate degree and gain experience. Through NYU's BSN, students complete an excellent nursing program, gain clinical experience at some of the best hospitals in New York, and graduate with connections to local healthcare facilities.
10. Aspen University
Annual Tuition: $9,750
Program Length: 1 year
Aspen University is a primarily online school, so only licensed nurses with an associate degree should consider this option. However, Aspen's online RN-BSN is among the best out there, perfect for RNs with an associate degree looking to increase their earning potential. This flexible program also makes it easy to keep working while earning the degree, and the program cost is incredibly low. Completing an RN-BSN program could prove to be an excellent long-term move for labor and delivery nurses.
To learn more about L&D nursing careers, take advantage of the resources available through the professional associations related to this field. The leading group for L&D nurses is:
The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) - This organization aims to improve and promote the health of women and newborns and to strengthen the nursing profession through advocacy, research, and education.
You can also check out our article on How to Become an OB Nurse, which is a related nursing specialty!
What does a labor and delivery nurse usually do?
- A labor and delivery nurse cares for pregnant people during labor, delivery, and postpartum. They can also assess pregnant people for signs of premature labor or other pregnancy complications. Labor and delivery nurses also provide newborn care and parental and caregiver education that can include bathing, grooming, health, and feeding.
How do I become a labor and delivery nurse?
- In order to become a L&D nurse, earn your RN, then apply to work on a labor and delivery ward. Some hospitals allow L&D nurses to apply directly out of school, while others may prefer nurses to have some experience on the general med/surg floor.
Is labor and delivery nursing hard?
- Labor and delivery nursing can have challenging situations, such as when pregnancy complications occur, but it’s a highly rewarding field.
Is a labor and delivery nurse the same as a midwife?
- No. A Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is a Registered Nurse who has gone through a Master’s program to become an Advanced Practice RN.
How long does it take to become a labor and delivery nurse?
- It can take 2-4 years to become an RN and it is possible to apply directly to the L&D ward right out of school; some healthcare facilities may require a year or two of med/surg experience, however.
What personality traits are needed to be a labor and delivery nurse?
- Labor and delivery nurses need to have the ability to pivot quickly, manage time effectively, communicate, handle high-stress situations, express empathy, and work well with doctors, patients, and families. A passion for pregnancy is also helpful for L&D nurses.
*Indicates an affiliate link. We may make a commission if you purchase through this link.RN $70,000 - $90,000 Associate Bachelors Labor and delivery Bedside
What are the progression routes for a nurse? ›
You could train as a midwife, neonatal nurse, health visitor, or district or practice nurse. You could also move into management, as a matron or director of nursing. With a postgraduate qualification, you could become an advanced nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist, then a nurse consultant.How do I become a labor and delivery nurse in Florida? ›
To become a Labor & Delivery Nurse, either an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is required. It's also required to become licensed. This can be done by passing the RNC-OB exam. There are many specialty areas in the field of nursing.What is a Labour and delivery nurse? ›
As a Labor and Delivery (L&D) Nurse, you'll help care for mothers and newborns before, during, and after the birth. Your patients will look to you for information, reassurance and guidance in handling a delicate new life, new family member, and entirely new experience.How much do L&D nurses make in Texas? ›
Average Texas Health Resources Labor and Delivery Nurse hourly pay in Texas is approximately $43.26, which is 9% below the national average.Do you get paid while training to be a nurse? ›
To answer your question about students nurses being paid while training to be a nurse. You will only be able to either get financing from the student loan associations or students loan ok , or self fund the course yourself. Unfortunately no students nurses get paid for there training.Is a nursing degree hard? ›
Nursing requires more dedication than many other careers. However, it's one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. Nursing school is notoriously difficult—and it's not for everyone. Graduate school is challenging as well.Is L&D nursing hard? ›
Being a labor and delivery nurse is no easy task. It requires a lot of patience, skill, and knowledge to take care of new parents during one of the most critical times in their lives.Can a nurse deliver a baby? ›
Part One What is a Labor and Delivery Nurse? L&D nurses begin as Registered Nurses (RN) and may become Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) such as OB/GYN Nurse Practitioners, but ultimately, they pursue some level of specialty training to help women deliver babies.What type of nurse helps deliver babies? ›
Working closely with the obstetricians and gynecologists in the ward, L&D nurses work in a hospital setting with other support staff to ensure that mothers and their birth team have a safe experience both laboring and delivering babies.What is the best way to become a labor and delivery nurse? ›
- Build trust and bond with each mother.
- Respect boundaries and personal views.
- Educate her to help reduce stress caused by the unknown.
- Listen with an open mind.
Do L&D nurses deliver babies? ›
Becoming a labour and delivery (L&D) nurse is a commitment that takes a thorough education and the ability to work in a high-pressure environment. As an L&D nurse, you can play a pivotal role in many families' lives by helping to deliver babies.Why do I want to be a L&D nurse? ›
Labor and delivery nurses also help to ensure new mothers understand the importance of postpartum care, mental health and nutrition. Because there are several stages involved in childbirth, L&D nursing gives you the exciting chance to develop a variety of skills.What kind of nurses get paid the most? ›
- Family Nurse – $113,000.
- Urgent Care Nurse – $113,000.
- Oncology Nurse – $113,000.
- Orthopedic Nurse – $115,000.
- Cardiac Nurse – $116,000.
- Emergency Room Nurse – $116,000.
- Neonatal Nurse – $127,000.
- Nurse Anesthetist – $189,000.
The highest-paid labor and delivery nurses work in California where they make 50 percent more than the average salary of a labor and delivery nurse nationwide. But the cost of living in California is 50 percent more than it is in the U.S. as a whole.How much does a travel nurse make in Texas? ›
Texas Travel Nurse Pay among the Best
New graduate RNs earn a median annual salary of $62,803. You don't have to be a permanent staff RN to enjoy competitive wages. A travel nurse salary in Texas offers a possible earning potential of $1,745 to $4,364 per week or $56,732 for a 13-week assignment.
- Use Financial Aid.
- Apply for Scholarships.
- Consider Help From Your Current Job.
- Work From Home.
- Consider Night-Shift Jobs.
- Ask for Work Study Programs.
- Take Out Loans.
- Consider A Military Nursing Career.
The minimum entry requirements are mean grade of C+ in KCSE or its equivalent with C+ in each of the following cluster subjects: English, Biology/Biological Sciences, Chemistry Mathematics or Physics.Can I become a nurse without going to university? ›
Registered nurse degree apprenticeships (RNDA)
A registered nurse degree apprenticeship (RNDA) offers a flexible route to becoming a nurse that doesn't require full-time study at university.
Pharmacology. Pharmacology, or the study of medication, can seem scary because of the sheer scope of the course. "It becomes one of the hardest classes for nursing students due to the depth and amount of knowledge needed," says Megan Lynch, instructor at Pima Community College.What is expected of a first year nursing student? ›
Experience a variety of skills for example: move and tilt a bed, use a slide sheet, roll a patient in bed, assist a patient out of bed, use a stand aid and a hoist. Practise with fellow students taking each other's temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure, using a variety of equipment.
How do you pass a nursing school exam? ›
- Follow the nursing exam study guide. ...
- Study a little every day. ...
- Focus on the material covered in class. ...
- Think in terms of action, not facts. ...
- Form a study group. ...
- Skim-read first. ...
- Use outside sources. ...
- Know your learning style.
OB nurses are women's health specialists who are experts in sexual and reproductive health. They can help patients have healthy pregnancies, make sure patients take preventive care steps for serious issues like cervical and breast cancer, help patients determine the best birth control method for them, and more.What do mother baby nurses do? ›
Mother-Baby Nurses educate and assist new mothers with physical and emotional needs during the post partum period, while in the hospital setting. They perform the dual role of caring for the infants and educating mothers about care.What's it like being a maternity nurse? ›
Labor and delivery nurses support moms-to-be through one of the most challenging, vulnerable, exhilarating experiences of their lives, keeping them calm during labor, helping them make informed decisions, and making sure their obstetrics provider knows what's going on throughout the entire process.Who cleans the baby after birth? ›
A neonatal nurse cares for newborn babies. They help new parents hold, bathe, and feed their baby, and often act as a bridge between the parent and the specialists working with the infant.How many nurses are usually in the delivery room? ›
You will likely have the same nurse for your entire labor and birth, but you may, because of shifts or multiple patients, see more than one nurse. The nurse will be responsible for communicating with your doctor or midwife.Do labor and delivery nurses do C sections? ›
L&D nurses assist during both vaginal births and c-sections.How long does it take to become a pediatric nurse? ›
Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN)
Requirements: Candidates must have an RN license and a minimum of 1,800 hours as an RN in a pediatric nursing specialty within the past 24 months, or a minimum of five years as an RN in pediatric nursing and 3,000 hours in pediatric nursing within the last 5 years.
- Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.
- Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR.
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
- University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
- University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN.
- University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
Neonatal nurses appear to earn a higher income than the average registered nurse salary in the US. The BLS states that the average nurse salary in 2021 was $77,600 or $37.31 per hour. While neonatal nurses earn an average income of $100,944 per year or $48.53 per hour per ZipRecruiter.
How long does it take to become a nurse? ›
Depending on the specific nursing program that you enroll in, it could take anywhere from 16 months to four years to become a registered nurse. “I chose to earn my BSN, which takes four years,” says ChiChi Akanegbu, who completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Regis College as a part of the Class of 2020.Is labor and delivery considered critical care? ›
Labor and Delivery is a mix of the Emergency Department (ED), Medical-Surgical, Operating Room (OR), Recovery Room, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and Critical Care all mashed together into one exciting unit!How do I prepare for a labor and delivery nurse interview? ›
- Why did you decide to specialize in labor and delivery nursing? ...
- Do you have experience partnering with doulas? ...
- How do you communicate with patients whose birth plans may affect their medical health?
Be sure that whatever you say, you convey the ideas that you're enthusiastic about being a labor and delivery nurse and you have the right experience to succeed in the position. Exude confidence on the day of your interview. Wear something that makes you feel poised and powerful. Business or business casual is ideal.How fast does labor progress? ›
Early labor may entail just two to six hours of very obvious contractions. Or it may progress over several weeks, during which time you may not even notice (or be bothered by) your contractions.Do nurses have career progression? ›
Nursing is a diverse industry, with many potential career progression paths to choose from. Although many of the skills and responsibilities in different nursing careers are similar, each has unique elements that can help you decide which may be suitable for you and your goals.How do nurses get promoted? ›
- Stay motivated with a career plan.
- Enjoy your job.
- Keep learning, and be a resource.
- Be a team player—find a mentor, be a mentor.
- Learn how to ask for what you want.
Specialize in one particular field of nursing so you gain expert skills and credentials. Continue to learn, both on the job and off it. Online degrees help you boost your academic qualifications and help you meet pre-requisites to climb higher up the professional ladder.What is the next step after becoming a registered nurse? ›
After earning your BSN and becoming a registered nurse, you can reach the next level in nursing by earning your master's degree.What nurses are the happiest? ›
There are countless nursing specialties that one can choose from, especially given the ongoing nursing shortage. But Nurse.org found that nurse educators, home health nurses, nurse managers, OR-perioperative nurses, and pediatric nurses reported the highest levels of job satisfaction.
Which type of nursing is best? ›
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CNRA) ...
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. ...
- Cardiac Nurse Practitioner. ...
- Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner. ...
- Oncology Nurse Practitioner. ...
- General Nurse Practitioner. ...
- Family Nurse Practitioner. ...
- Nurse Midwife.
- Follow established orientation guidelines.
- Focus on being a good nurse.
- Look for opportunities to get involved.
- Go to available training opportunities.
- Obtain national certification.
- Consider furthering education.
A registered nurse (RN) can become a doctor if they complete the required certifications and education. Typically, nurses have many of the prerequisites that medical schools require, so you may be able to accelerate the medical school admissions process.What is promotion in nursing? ›
Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health.What is the next level after BSN? ›
Once you have your BSN, you can then opt to pursue more education with a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree to choose from a full array of high-paying, high-demand nursing jobs.How far can you advance in nursing? ›
Beyond the bachelor's degree in nursing are two types of postgraduate nursing career paths: Advanced practice nurse: The APN category includes nurse practitioner (NP), nurse educator, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and nurse administrator.How do I advance my career in healthcare? ›
- Continue Your Education. ...
- Take Initiative and Become a Leader. ...
- Work Your Network. ...
- Find a Mentor. ...
- Keep it Professional. ...
- Get Training Where You Can.
There are four fields of nursing: adult nursing • children's nursing • learning disabilities nursing • mental health nursing.What is the easiest nursing job? ›
- 1 1. Nurse Educator.
- 2 2. School Nurse/Summer Camp Nurse.
- 3 3. Nurse Administrator.
- 4 4. Public Health Nurse.
- 5 5. Nurse Researcher.
- 6 6. Nurse Informaticist.
- 7 7. Case Management Nurse.
- 8 8. Home Health Nurse.
Either way is correct when writing out your name and credentials — Jane Doe, RN, BSN, or Jane Doe, BSN, RN. In the world of academia, the college degree is used first and then licensure and other credentials. But for the rest of us, both ways work.