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What it like being an labor and delivery nurse ?

like what are the pros and cons of it

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Ashley’s Answer

Hey Lariah! I have been a Labor and Delivery nurse for around 5 years now. On the unit I work technically we are a Women's Center, meaning we "wear more hats" than just Labor and Delivery. We also are crosstrained and work as Labor and Delivery, Postpartum, Well Baby/Stabilization and Transfer of Infants needing a higher level of care, Antepartum/Triage, and Gynecological surgery nurses. Depending on your hospital and location determines whether you have the ability to join a unit similar to mine or whether these units are separate. The best part of being trained in all these areas is that my day rarely ever looks the same from one day to the next and I am always kept on my toes as to what my patient assignment will look like. However, for those who enjoy a routine it may be better to go into one specialty area. Nursing is a great field and one that has so so many paths you can take based on your preferences. That's what drew me to nursing in the first place. I personally knew from the start of nursing school that my interest was in Women's Health and Newborn Care and while I love it there are challenging days and moments. I do think people when they hear my profession say "Oh! You must love your job getting to rock those sweet babies!" and while that is true Labor and Delivery is so much more than rocking babies. And even though most of the time it is the best day of someone's life that you get to be a part of, sometimes it can be someone's worst.

"Healthy Baby, Healthy Mama"
Childbirth and pregnancy is a miracle!!
Seeing a new life enter the world is always so humbling
Getting to help others during a challenging time
Saving someone's life
Helping provide education to new mother's and families
Advocating for your patient's
Baby snuggles
Feeling more prepared for starting your own family one day
Breastfeeding is incredible and so very interesting
Opportunity for continuing education
Lots of nursing skills(IV's, foley catheters, assisting with epidurals, fetal monitoring, able to triage own patients, assisting with c-sections, etc.)
Helpful teammates/coworkers

Stillborns or miscarriages
Sick babies
Babies born addicted to drugs
Selfish parents
Family dynamics especially with Child Protective Service Involvement
Busy units
Short staffing
Mostly women coworkers (lots of estrogen)

Ashley recommends the following next steps:

Contact the Human Resources Department at your local hospital to see if they have a shadowing program in Labor and Delivery.
See if your local hospital has a "baby holding: volunteer opportunity in the NICU.
Talk to your closest family and friends and see what advice they can give or if they know anyone that is in that career field.
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Marisol’s Answer

Hi lariah. I don’t work on a L&D unit but I have had experience working in postpartum which is what they call the unit after the baby is born. I know L & F can be pretty busy and sometimes she slow. You have to think not only about the baby but mom too. Mom/baby Centers are typically pretty rewarding to see a healthy baby go home with mom and dad. Sometimes you do have very sad cases like the baby does not make it (still born, emergency) and the mom/dad are completely devastated and have to go home without a baby. Sometimes there is drugs involved and the baby has to be taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to recover and maybe even grow some more. The baby can not go home with the mom due to drug use sometimes. As a nurse you will do a lot of educating your patient that can be fun too, like helping a mom put their baby to sleep, burp, change or breast feed a baby.
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Joelle’s Answer

Hi Lariah! I was a Labor and Delivery (L&D) Nurse for 1 year. I mostly worked in the PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit) after moms had c-sections, but I sometimes had to cover breaks on the L and D side, and my orientation included L&D. Here are the pros and cons (in my opinion).

You get to see babies born. It never gets old. It literally is a miracle.
Your patients trust you, and value your expertise.
You work closest with providers and other team members like surgical technicians, and nurses aides.
Once you become experienced the providers really trust your knowledge.
It’s busy!!!!!
L and D is a speciality, and you will learn so much including med-surg, Operating Room nursing, emergency room nursing, PACU nursing, and mother baby nursing.
It will teach you different medications, how to give blood, and how to manage pain.
You will learn how to recognize emergencies
You get to hold babies! (my fav)
Teaches you how to multitask
Nurses usually choose to become L and D nurses, it doesn’t typically choose them (if that makes sense)
You learn about Women’s Health
You teach, A LOT
You assist in C-sections
You will learn and teach about breastfeeding, skin to skin, managing pain, looking out for blood loss
You will learn how to put in IVs, and draw bloods
You will learn how to read tracings
You can become a midwife
You can start your own business
Create courses for new mothers
You can be a great asset and help end material disparities among women of color. “Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women,” (source CDC).

It’s busy!!!!
Nurses are mean (in my opinion)
Like what Marisol said, you will experience death
Some mother’s also give their babies up for adoption (this is only a con because it can be very emotional and traumatic for all involved)
Teenage pregnancy
Nurse bullying
It’s super busy depending on where you work
A lot to learn
Can be overwhelming if you are a new grad
Providers can be mean as well

It can be difficult to transfer to another department, but with the nursing shortage I don’t think it would be a problem.
All in all, if you want to become an L and D nurse, I would shadow a labor and delivery nurse OR work on a L and D floor as a certified nurse assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN) or surgical tech to get your foot in the door and to see if you really like it. I think you will be great in whatever you choose! Best of luck!


Joelle recommends the following next steps:

I would shadow a labor and delivery nurse OR work on a L and D floor as a certified nurse assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN) or surgical tech to get your foot in the door and to see if you really like it
Check out this article I wrote:
Check out this overview on Labor and Delivery Nurses: