What does an Obstetrics Nurse do?

Dorothy Distefano

An obstetrics nurse is a nursing professional who works with women throughout pregnancy, as well as during childbirth. This may include evaluation and care during labor and delivery, and postpartum care of the mother and child. Nurses in this field may treat patients throughout the process or focus solely on perinatal care or labor and delivery.

An obstetrics nurse works with women during pregnancy.
An obstetrics nurse works with women during pregnancy.

An individual who is interested in becoming an obstetrics nurse should earn, at the very least, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) degree. Due to the specialized care required in this field, many employers prefer those nurses with a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN). After earning such a degree, students in the United States are required to become licensed, by taking an exam given by their home state’s board of nursing. Further certification in obstetrics may then be obtained through the National Certification Corporation (NCC).

An obstetrics nurse may work with women during childbirth.
An obstetrics nurse may work with women during childbirth.

Once properly educated and licensed, an obstetrics nurse can seek a job in a doctor’s office or hospital. Duties in a physician's office may include taking vital signs, assisting with examinations and procedures, completing assessments, and maintaining examination rooms. In a hospital setting, the nurse may be asked to prepare delivery rooms, sterilize instruments, prepare patients, monitor patients, assist the doctor throughout the delivery, and provide care for babies immediately following birth.

Aan obstetrics nurse may help new mothers learn to care for their newborns.
Aan obstetrics nurse may help new mothers learn to care for their newborns.

During labor and delivery, the obstetrics nurse will monitor the patient as well as the fetus. Responsibilities typically include administration of medications to control pain, or substances like Rh immune-globulin and pitocin, or other drugs ordered by the doctor. It is the role of the nurse to report the patients' conditions and the progress of labor to the attending physician. The nurse provides most of the patient care up to the point of delivery, when the physician steps in and the nurse assists him.

An obstetrics nurse typically monitors both the mother and fetus during the labor and delivery process.
An obstetrics nurse typically monitors both the mother and fetus during the labor and delivery process.

In a hospital, an obstetrics nurse will likely offer support and education to postpartum mothers. By providing information and care, the nurse may help new mothers learn to care for themselves, as well as meet the needs of their newborns. Information about breastfeeding, care of the child’s umbilical cord, and general child care education may be offered, in adddition to instruction on personal postpartum care for the mother. Providing this instruction and care can help new parents learn, and adjust to parenthood.

While labor and delivery is often predictable, an obstetrics nurse must be prepared to handle unexpected complications for the mother or baby. Pre-term labor with premature delivery may indicate the need for emergency care for the newborn. Prolonged labor may put the fetus at risk for stress and infection. A breech birth can cause significant discomfort and may necessitate a Caesarean section to deliver the baby. These and other complications require an obstetrics nurse to work quickly, in conjunction with the doctor, to ensure the safety of both the mother and infant.

An obstetrics nurse may be responsible for postpartum care of both mother and child.
An obstetrics nurse may be responsible for postpartum care of both mother and child.

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Discussion Comments

anon929954

Check your community colleges. They may have an ADN program (Associates Degree in Nursing). That is what I'm doing. You can get your LPN along the way with testing and then your RN after that.

anon140508

I have always wanted to be an obstetrics nurse my entire life. and if anybody can respond to this i would really like to know some kinds of things about becoming an obstetrics nurse thank you. Like what kind of training do you need after you get your nursing degree? I really appreciate this. Thank you! Sincerely, Megan J.

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