July 5, 2022
By: Terri Heimann Oppenheimer
Medically reviewed by: Kathleen Gaines News and Education Editor, 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.
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How do you ace a labor and delivery interview? ›
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.Why do you want to be 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.What do you think is the most important role of a nurse to a mother experiencing labor? ›
Labor and Delivery Nurses work as main points of support for OBGYNs, monitoring of patient vitals, administering medication, and establishing a trusted line of communication with expectant mothers.Why should we hire you as a delivery driver answer? ›
Best way to answer this question is to highlight your interest and passion for some of the success traits needed for this job. For example, you can answer this question by saying that you want to service customers, you like to be on the go in fast paced work environments, and that you are flexible and reliable.What are the 4 common methods of delivery? ›
There are many options for childbirth you may discuss with your pregnancy care provider. Vaginal delivery, C-section, VBAC and assisted vaginal delivery are examples of types of delivery.What 5 qualities do you think a good nurse should have? ›
- Caring. ...
- Communication Skills. ...
- Empathy. ...
- Attention to Detail. ...
- Problem Solving Skills. ...
- Stamina. ...
- Sense of Humor. ...
- Commitment to Patient Advocacy.
Successful maternity nurses need advanced knowledge of women's health issues, including pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum care, and newborn care. Specific tasks and knowledge required in this role include: Understanding of prenatal, perinatal, and newborn conditions, diseases, and routine care.How can I be a better labor 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.
Best answer for a nursing job #1 (example)
“If i'm being honest, I have all the skills and experience that you're searching for in a nurse.. Apart from having years of experience and the technical skills, I am also a very motivated person and always go beyond what's expected for the job.
Good nurse needs right attitude, empathy, and also a strong mind, to manage to handle and process all they see in the job. But I believe to have all these things in me, plus my extensive experience. Perhaps it makes from me the best candidate for the job. You should hire me because of my attitude to this work.
Why nursing is your chosen career? ›
A career in nursing offers plenty of choices so you can adapt your profession to fit your lifestyle. Not only is work available in a variety of geographic locations and different sectors, nurses work full-time or part-time. Nursing is adaptable so it works with your lifestyle: days, evenings, nights and weekends.Why do you like labor and delivery nursing? ›
I loved the entire process of pregnancy and delivery. I never failed to cry when a baby was born, even after participating in hundreds of births. Being a labor nurse empowered me, gave me confidence, changed my path in life. I am forever grateful for the changes it wrought, including the impact on my family.What do nurses do during delivery? ›
Labor and delivery (L&D) nurses are licensed medical professionals who support obstetricians, midwives, expectant parents, and newborns. A labor and delivery nurse may administer medication, provide patient education, and monitor a patient's vital signs both during and after childbirth.What are the duties and responsibilities of a labor and delivery nurse? ›
Providing information, guidance, and hands-on clinical care to pregnant women. Monitoring fetal heartbeat and length and strength of contractions during labor. Coaching women, assisting with any complications and administering medications during birth. Performing tests on newborns after birth.What motivates you to be a delivery? ›
The Hours Are Flexible
Flexible number of hours to work. Increased productivity. More motivation to get things done. Feel more in control your life.
Show the employer that you've researched the job and understand what their role involves. Explain why you're a great fit for this position and its specific job requirements. Show them why you're excited about this type of work and will be motivated and enthusiastic in the role.Who to answer why do you want to work here? ›
Express your personal passion for the employer's product/service/mission. Employers want to know you're passionate about what they do, whether it takes the shape of a product, a service, a mission, or a brand. You can also connect your passion to the company's core values, which can often be found on their website.What are the four 4 qualities of effective delivery? ›
What are the four general qualities of effective delivery? For effective delivery you want to strive for naturalness, show enthusiasm, project a sense of confidence, and engage directly with audience members.What are the four P's that make up the process of labor and birth? ›
These components are grouped into 4Ps: power, which refers to uterine contractions and maternal pushing efforts; passage, which refers to the maternal pelvis that the baby passes through during labor; passenger, which refers to the fetus and placenta; and psyche, which refers to the client's psychological status during ...What are the 3 modes of delivery? ›
Mode of Delivery: It can be actual, symbolic or constructive.
What are the 6 C's of nursing? ›
Nurses care for injuries, administer medications, conduct frequent medical examinations, record detailed medical histories, monitor heart rate and blood pressure, perform diagnostic tests, operate medical equipment, draw blood, and admit/discharge patients according to physician orders.What makes a good maternity care assistant? ›
flexible and adaptable to deal with unpredictable situations. able to follow instructions and procedures. willing to be present at childbirth. able to work under pressure.What skills do new nurses need? ›
- Confidence. ...
- Ability to connect the dots. ...
- Critical thinking. ...
- Relation-based care. ...
- Leadership. ...
- Lifelong learning. ...
- Think like a nurse. ...
- Work well with colleagues.
Prenatal nurses help mothers who are expecting, to avoid and recognize health problems that might present before, during, or after birth. The specialists aid the mothers in learning and implementing healthy habits during pregnancy. The nurses work closely with parents throughout the gestation period.Is labor and delivery hard as a nurse? ›
It is such a specialized unit, that it would be good to work on the floor prior to becoming a RN. L&D is challenging because you are taking care of two patients at a time, both the mother and the baby, which is something many nurses struggle with.How do you introduce yourself in a nursing interview? ›
“TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF!” for Nursing Interviews ... - YouTubeHow do I sell myself as a nurse? ›
Strike up conversations with nurses and people from other healthcare disciplines, and exchange business cards. Keep in touch online and try to meet again in person, if possible. Also attend social events sponsored by your company to meet people from other departments. Connect on social media.What is a good weakness to say in a nursing interview? ›
Reflect on your weaknesses
Spending too much time on paperwork. Paying too much attention to detail. Attempting to complete too many tasks at once. A lack of clinical experience, which may apply to recent graduates or new nurses.
Having empathy to interact with the patient and their family and helping them to cope with problems is very important in a nursing position. Having the ability to understand and share those feelings with the patient and their loved ones is an essential strength for a nurse.
What is the full meaning of a nurse? ›
Definition of nurse
(Entry 1 of 2) 1 : a person who cares for the sick or infirm specifically : a licensed health-care professional who practices independently or is supervised by a physician, surgeon, or dentist and who is skilled in promoting and maintaining health — compare licensed practical nurse, registered nurse.
- Do you work well with other nurses, doctors and staff? ...
- How would you handle a difficult patient? ...
- How do you handle workplace stress? ...
- What do you do if your replacement does not arrive? ...
- How would you handle a disagreement with a doctor? ...
- Describe how you manage a busy workload.
One of the most satisfying labor and delivery nurse benefits is giving mothers the knowledge and confidence to care for their child at home. L&D nurses play a pivotal role in educating new parents about newborn care such as feeding and reading infant cues.Why are you asked in a labor and delivery nursing interview? ›
Why did you decide to specialize in labor and delivery nursing? This question helps the interviewer assess your motivation and passion for your nursing career and helping patients in this field. Describe several values you developed as a nurse and how they connect with the job you're interviewing for.What are 5 pre interview tips? ›
- Find out what kind of interview it will be.
- Check out the interviewer and the hiring manager.
- Search for former employees.
- Research the company.
- 5.Be prepared.
Tell me about a time when you had to handle a delivery problem and how did you handle that issue? The ability to handle service delivery issues is common for a delivery manager. Through this question, interviewers want to understand your thinking process under pressure and how you might overcome the situation.How do you answer tell me about yourself? ›
- Remember this is often your first impression, and it matters. ...
- Tailor your answer to the role and company. ...
- Know your audience. ...
- Keep it professional. ...
- But speak with passion. ...
- Don't ramble. ...
- Practice, practice, practice—but stop short of memorizing. ...
- Keep it positive.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Walk me through your resume.
- How did you hear about this position?
- Why do you want to work at this company?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why should we hire you?
- What can you bring to the company?
- What are your greatest strengths?
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.How do you answer the question why do you want to do nursing? ›
- It is the most fitting job for my personality. I've always enjoyed helping others, and I've always wanted to work in a hospital. ...
- I've made this decision many years ago. ...
- To be honest, I am disturbed with the current state of affairs in our society.
What is your most important responsibility as a labor nurse in the labor and delivery area? ›
The primary role of a labor and delivery nurse is to monitor and provide care for the mother and her baby. Serving as an expert in the birthing process, a labor and delivery nurse provides intensive support for the patient, and is ready to intervene, at a moment's notice.Why did you choose nursing Short answer? ›
It gives you the opportunity to positively impact your patients & community. “I want to be a nurse because I really want to help people through some of their most vulnerable moments,” explains Meagan Thompson. All nurses have at least one thing in common—they want to help people.What is your weakness best answer? ›
Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.What are 4 things you should do before an interview? ›
- Research the company and industry. We often hear from employers that candidates do not know enough about their companies when they interview. ...
- Identify your goals and skills: Why do you want this job? ...
- Your Chance to Interview the Employer. ...
- Practice your interviewing skills.
- customer service skills.
- the ability to organise your time and workload.
- the ability to work well with others.
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure.
- sensitivity and understanding.
- knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits.
Greet your interviewers and tell your name to start the formal introduction. It is always a good idea to prepare for this most expected question beforehand. Do not hesitate to include some informal, personal information, such as your hobbies, or what you do on weekends.What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers for managers? ›
- What's your management style?
- How do you see a manager's role on a team?
- How do you motivate a team?
- Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult employee.
- How would your colleagues describe you?
- Describe how you delegate tasks to team members.
- Other frequently asked interview questions.