Quick Facts :
Obstetric Nurse

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Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, May 2017

info-icon ADN or BSN
info-icon $73,550 Annual Wage
info-icon 15% Job Growth

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What Is an Obstetric Nurse?

When it comes to healthy deliveries and healthy babies, nothing is more important than how a soon to be mother takes care of herself and her unborn bundle of joy. However, even the most experienced mothers need a little guidance during this joyful, yet stressful, moments in their lives.

Trained obstetric professionals are typically the ones that women turn to before, during, and after their nine-month pregnancy journeys. Although obstetricians play an integral and unquestionably important role during this time in a woman’s life, obstetric nurses are dedicated professionals that should not be overlooked.

These specialty nurses help care for pregnant women and their little ones during and after pregnancy and delivery. At times, obstetric nurses will also help council and advise women who are trying to get pregnant.

If you’re looking to pursue a career as an obstetric nurse, you’ll first and foremost need to be passionate about woman’s and infant health. You should have a vast knowledge of the female reproductive system, how it works, and its effects on an expecting mother’s body as a whole.

Keep in mind, however, that although you’ll have the chance to witness the miracle of birth on a daily basis, this career isn’t all fun and rainbows. Due to the long and erratic hours along with the occasional tragedy, obstetric nursing as a career is sometimes as stressful and challenging as it is rewarding.

What Do Obstetric Nurses Do?

As mentioned above, obstetric nurses assist and care for women during all stages of their pregnancies. This typically includes women who are looking to get pregnant, as well as women who are already pregnant and those that have already given birth. However, the duties and responsibilities of obstetric nurses will typically vary depending on where they work

Women that are looking to get pregnant will often seek advice from obstetricians and obstetric nurses in private practices on how to prepare their bodies and minds for their pregnancies. Obstetric doctors and nurses will often work together to ensure that these women are as healthy as possible, give them advice on how to prepare both their bodies and minds, and educate them on fertility treatments and what to expect when they’re expecting.

Whether they see it as long overdue or a complete shock, the majority of women will do whatever it takes to take good care of themselves and their unborn children during their pregnancies. In order to ensure the healthiest pregnancy and delivery possible, this typically involves regular checkups with obstetric professionals. As an obstetric nurse, you will be a constant presence during these routine visits. You will assist the obstetrician with prenatal exams and procedures, including pelvic exams, prenatal screenings, urine and blood sample collection, weight monitoring, and ultrasounds. In case of an abnormal pregnancy, an obstetric nurse may also help expecting mothers make difficult decisions that could directly affect their health and the health of their children.

Obstetric nurses are also present in hospital maternity wards and birthing centers. They will typically provide the majority of the care during the initial stages of labor. During this particularly stressful – not to mention uncomfortable – time for the mothers, obstetric nurses will help keep mothers as comfortable as possible and find ways to manage their pain. They will also continually monitor expecting mothers and fetuses for signs of impending delivery.

Obstetric nurses are also close at hand in delivery rooms as well. They’ll often act as coaches for mom and assistants for doctors and should be prepared for the occasional medical emergency during delivery.

After a baby is born, an obstetric nurse will often finding herself splitting her time between newborns and their mothers. They will often clean, weigh, measure, vaccinate, and monitor the infants as well as assist the new mother while she recovers from the strain of labor.

As an obstetric nurse, you will also educate and teach both mom and dad basic infant care, including swaddling, feeding, changing, and bathing practices.

Where Do Obstetric Nurses Work?

Maternity wards in hospitals as well as private obstetric and gynecology practices typically hire the majority of obstetric nurses. However, you might also be able to find employment in private birthing centers and midwife practices as well.

How Do I Become an Obstetric Nurse?

Since the majority of obstetric nurses are at least registered nurses, you should start your journey by earning a nursing diploma or degree and concentrating on obstetrics and women’s health. Additional education or an internship in this area will typically give you the skills and knowledge necessary to secure an entry-level position in the field.

After you’ve obtained a minimum of two years and 2,400 hours of experience in obstetrics, you can then sit for the National Certification Corporation’s (NCC) Inpatient Obstetric Nursing certification exam and become a certified obstetric nurse.

Additional Resources for Obstetric Nurses