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Obstetrics Nurse

Women often first encounter OB nurses at their OB/GYN practitioner's office, where OB nurses help educate patients on sexual health, birth control, and assist with pelvic exams. 


Once pregnant, the OB nurse helps monitor a woman’s pregnancy and provides teaching and support. During labor, the OB nurse monitors the woman and her infant and coaches her during the delivery. After delivery, the woman and her infant are closely watched before going to the postpartum unit, where OB nurses teach about lactation and provide post-delivery care.

Education Requirements

All nurse specialty areas require an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and successfully pass the state’s NCLEX-RN exam. Some hospitals prefer you to have a BSN but may accept an ADN.

How to advance/career pathway

OB nurses must be BCLS certified, and it is highly encouraged they become OB certified after gaining experience. 


An Inpatient Obstetrics Nurse (RNC-OB) needs to have worked for 2,000 hours in obstetrics for 24 months before taking the exam. 

 

You can also advance by getting an MSN or doctoral degree with a woman’s health or OB/GYN focus as a CNM. Alternatively, you can become an Obstetrics-Gynecology Nurse Practitioner (OGNP) or a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP).

RESPONSIBILITIES

OB nursing can be separated into prenatal, labor and delivery, post-delivery, and postpartum care. Each area has specific roles. 


* Prenatal: 

  • Pregnancy care involves monitoring weight, collect lab work and urine for prenatal screening
  • Assist the physician or NP during pelvic exams
  • Provide counseling and education during pregnancy


* Labor and Delivery: 

  • Monitor mother and baby during labor, prep the woman for delivery, and keep the physician or CNM abreast of her status
  • Attend and assist during delivery
  • Labor coaching and pain management


* Post Delivery

  • Assess newborn immediately after birth
  • Monitors mom and newborn vital signs or any change in status


* Postpartum: 

  • Assist mother with lactation and post-delivery personal care
  • Assist with bonding and newborn teaching
  • Attend to incisions, provide ice or pain medications
  • Provide counseling and education

MOST COMMON CASES

  • Women and teenagers of every socioeconomic level needing OB/GYN care
  • Newborn care

How to become a

Obstetrics Nurse

  1. Complete an ADN or BSN program in nursing
  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for your RN license
  3. Apply as a new grad or from another nursing discipline to an inpatient or outpatient OB setting 
  4. Get certified as an Inpatient Obstetrics Nurse (RNC-OB) after meeting prerequisites

Specialty Groups and Communities

Association of Women's Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) 

  • Mission: “Our mission is to improve and promote the health of women and newborns and to strengthen the nursing profession through the delivery of superior advocacy, research, education and other professional and clinical resources to nurses and other health care professionals.”
  • Cost: $96, annually.
  • Perks: Access to AWHONN Journals with free CE, educational tools & resources, 30+ webinars with CE and other easily-accessible forms of clinical education on key topics, new member recruitment rewards, AWHONN Career Center, and more.

Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN)

  • Mission: “The mission of JOGNN is to advance the health and health care of women, childbearing families, and newborns through the publication of peer-reviewed nursing and interdisciplinary scholarship.”
  • Cost: $258, annually.
  • Perks: Receive free shipping around the world, full online access to your subscription and archive of back issues, table of contents alerts, access to all multimedia content( e.g. podcasts, videos, slides), and fully-optimized mobile browsing experience on your smartphone or tablet.

The Pros

  • Rewarding to be part of a family’s new life event
  • Involved in a woman’s pregnancy 
  • Care for both the mother and the infant 
  • Enjoy teaching mother and family

The Cons

  • Fatigue due to focused attention during labor and delivery  
  • Care of OB patients may limit exposure to other medical conditions.   
  • Concern if there is a bad birth outcome 
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Personality Traits

  • Clear, calm communicator
  • Supportive and encouraging
  • Enthusiastic, resourceful and quick to adjust
  • Enjoys teaching and coaching women
  • Strong interest in pregnancy and childbirth
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Average Salary

An obstetrics nurse typically makes between $46k - $103k, with a median salary of $60,908. For the most up-to-date salary information, check out Salary Explorer.

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Certifications

National Certification Corporation 

  • Inpatient Obstetrics Nursing (RNC-OB)
  • Obstetrics and Neonatal Quality and Safety (C-ONQS)
  • Certification in Electronic Fetal Monitoring (C-EFM)
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Work Setting

Hospitals, OB/GYN doctor’s offices, clinics, and birthing centers

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to be an Obstetrics Nurse? We spoke to one to find out. Read What Does an Obstetrics Nurse Do?