degrees needed to be a labor and delivery nurse

A Guide to Becoming a Labor and Delivery Nurse

In a National Vital Statistics Report, the Centers for Disease Control stated that there were 3.66 million births in the United States in 2021.

Labor and delivery nurses help make the birthing experience as comfortable and safe as possible for their patients.

If you’re researching guides on specialty nursing concentrations or curious about how to become a labor and delivery nurse, read on to discover:

  • Daily assignments associated with the labor and delivery nurse profession
  • Designated work settings for labor and delivery nurses
  • Degrees required to become a labor and delivery nurse
  • Descriptions of labor and delivery nursing skills that are helpful-to-have, and
  • Details regarding occupational outlooks for the labor and delivery nursing sector

L&D Nurse Career Definition: What is a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Labor and delivery nurses (also called delivery nurses or L&D nurses) are trained registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in helping medical professionals and mothers during childbirth. Their primary function is to assist in the labor and delivery process.

Labor and delivery nurses play a critical role in providing comprehensive healthcare by offering emotional, physical, and psychological support to patients and their families throughout childbirth—from early labor and birth to postpartum.

Common Duties for an L&D Nurse: What Do Labor and Delivery Nurses Do?

As the primary contact for mothers and family members, labor and delivery nurses are the go-to providers for comfort, questions, and support.

During labor and delivery, nurses are usually assigned a small number of patients per shift, ranging from one to a few.

Roles and responsibilities for labor and delivery nurses include:

  • Administering IVs, medications, and epidurals
  • Advocating for patients’ emotional, physical, ad psycho-social needs
  • Assisting physicians or midwives with cesarean deliveries, inducing labor, or other procedures and surgeries
  • Coaching and uplifting mothers throughout the birthing process
  • Communicating birthing status to all applicable members of the interdisciplinary team
  • Educating caregivers and their families on newborn care like bathing and feeding, as well as any possible neonatal complications, and birth recovery
  • Monitoring and documenting patient contractions and dilation
  • Recording the mother and baby’s vital signs, including blood pressure and heart rate monitoring
  • Referring patients to additional support staff and specialists, and
  • Staying alert and cognizant of any possible changes or complications

L&D Nurse Career Settings: Where Do Labor and Delivery Nurses Work?

Most labor and delivery nurses work in hospitals, but some may opt to assist with home births or work in birthing centers or clinical settings. Other labor and delivery nurses may also function as independent contractors, serving as consultants or community resources.

The requirements for labor and delivery nurses vary depending on the state and medical institution. Some hospitals allow L&D nurses to apply for employment immediately after completing their degrees, while other employers may require applicants to have prior experience as a registered nurse on a general medical or surgical floor.

L&D Nurse Education: How Do You Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Registered nurses specializing in labor and delivery graduate from an accredited nursing program instructing curriculum topics like lifespan development, nursing leadership, and the wellness continuum for women, newborns, and families.

Generally, prospective labor and delivery RNs enroll in a two-year nursing program, such as an associate degree in Nursing, like the one offered by Goodwin University.

Registered nursing hopefuls can also earn their four-year degree in nursing, otherwise known as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Moreover, Accelerated BSN programs are available for prospective registered nurses who have already completed their bachelor’s degree in another major.

RN-to-BSN programs are designed to streamline the baccalaureate nursing degree process for existing registered nurses with licensures in good standing.

Likewise, bachelor-level L&D nurses seeking to advance their careers can enroll in an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) graduate program.

After becoming a nursing graduate, all alums must pass the national nursing licensure exam (the NCLEX-RN) and their respective state boards before practicing in the field. On-the-job training in the specialty may also be administered to new hires.


Not sure which program is right for you? Explore our ASN, ABSN, RN-to-BSN, and APRN downloadable guides for more information!


L&D Nursing Skills: Necessities for Labor and Delivery Nurse Success

A rewarding career for registered nurses of any level, labor and delivery nurses witness medical marvels daily and assist in guiding new life into the world.

L&D nurses must also have the emotional intelligence to handle complex cases. High-risk patients include those with advanced maternal age and birth complications like premature infants or babies with low birth weight.

To flourish in a labor and delivery career, L&D registered nurses should be capable of connecting with everyone, including colleagues, doctors, patients, and families.

Furthermore, labor and delivery nurses should likely possess some of the following characteristics:

  • A calm demeanor in high pain, tense, or stressful situation
  • Adaptability
  • Assertiveness
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Social perceptiveness, and
  • Time Management

Labor and Delivery Nursing Profession: Career Projections and Salary

As of 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the annual average wage for registered nurses nationally was $89,010.

The same year, registered nurses working in Connecticut made an annual average wage of $94,260.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the field of registered nursing is projected to grow six percent from 2021 to 2031, accounting for 203,200 openings each year over the decade.


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Start your nursing journey at Goodwin!