Obstetrics nursing is a healthcare profession that focuses on the care of the pregnant women and the babies they give birth to. Obstetrics nurses independently assess, implement, and evaluate care within the stages of childbirth. Obstetrics is a surgical specialty that deals the care of women and children during pregnancy, childbirth and the time immediately following. Obstetrics nurses may further specialized in perinatal nurses or labor and delivery nurses.
To become an obstetrics nurse in the United States, some students will become licensed practical nurses (LPN) and get some entry-level nursing experience before continuing her education. Others will skip this step and enter an accredited college with a Bachelors of Nursing program, where the student will choose a concentration in obstetrics. In most cases, a new nurse will complete a year of clinical nursing experience before passing the state board nursing and become a registered nurse (RN). The finally step to enter obstetrics nursing in the US is to obtain certification through the National Certification Corporation (NCC). Nursing training often follows a similar path in other countries, but may differ from place to place.
The duties of obstetrics nursing can vary depending on the needs of the patient. An obstetric nurse may assess each mother and baby to develop an individualized care plan, while collaborating with physicians or other health care providers. Obstetrics nursing also involves monitoring the mother and baby for adverse reactions. If this happens, the obstetrics nurse will make changes to the patients' care plan based on her own medical knowledge as well as the advice of the patients' physicians.
For most of the time that a woman is in labor, she is attended to by a obstetrics nurse. The nurse may administer pain medication or provide other ways to manage labor pains. During this time, the nurse will monitor the labor progress and alert the physician when it is time for the birth. For most child labor without any complications, the physician does not step in until it is time to deliver the baby. At this point, the nurse will turn over the delivery to the physician, but will stay to assist.
After labor, an obstetric nurse also teaches the patient about the care related to postpartum health and newborn care. Obstetrics nursing involves providing emotional support for the new parents as they try to adjust to their newborn baby. An obstetrics nurse might help a mother and baby become comfortable with breastfeeding or demonstrate various swaddling techniques to a new father.