Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
Obstetrics nurses provide expert medical care and counseling for pregnant women and newborn babies. They assist obstetricians before, during, and after deliveries to ensure the health of mothers and infants. A person who wants to become an obstetrics nurse usually needs to obtain at least a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited school and complete region-specific training courses and licensing exams. With the appropriate credentials, an individual can become an obstetrics nurse at a general hospital, clinic, gynecologist's office, or birthing center.
A person who believes that he or she might want to become an obstetrics nurse should carefully consider the responsibilities of the job. Obstetrics professionals deal with patients who are often under a considerable amount of distress, and they must be able to create a calming, comfortable atmosphere. When complications arise during deliveries, nurses need to think and act quickly to make sure the women and infants are cared for appropriately. Nurses also need strong organizational and communication skills to fill out paperwork and document the services rendered to patients.
The education requirements to become an obstetrics nurse can vary, but the majority of hopeful professionals decide to pursue four-year bachelor's degrees. During a nursing program, a student takes courses in physiology, anatomy, chemistry, and biology to gain a fundamental understanding of how the human body works. He or she usually has the chance to participate in an internship during the last half of the nursing program to gain practical experience working with established doctors and nurses. Many schools offer a number of courses and internship opportunities specifically tailored to prospective obstetrics nurses.
After earning a degree, a graduate can pursue an entry-level position and take a national licensing examination to become a registered nurse. It is possible in some regions to enter obstetrics immediately, but most nurses begin their careers in emergency rooms or other general nursing settings. A professional who gains about a year of experience can look into the specific requirements in his or her region to become an obstetrics nurse.
Hospitals and allied health schools often offer continuing education courses to prepare new obstetrics nurses. Training courses usually culminate in regional or national licensing exams that grant official obstetrics nurse credentials. After completing training and requisite tests, a nurse can begin applying for permanent positions in gynecology and obstetrics settings. Many nurses decide to attend additional training courses to become nurse practitioners, providing them with many opportunities for advancement and a larger scope of job responsibilities.
Something else to keep in mind, if it is your dream to be a obstetrics nurse, is that these units often do not hire new nursing graduates. You might have to spend a few years working in another part of the hospital - usually med-surg (medical-surgical, the sort of "regular" floor). I do know someone who was fortunate in being able to start in the NICU - she had done an externship there and had a lot of connections. (Now she likes it so much she doesn't want to leave.)
I guess my point is mostly that nursing is a wide career and you don't necessarily know where it will take you. It's fine to think that you would like to work in this environment, but keep in mind that it may be a ways off.
While you wait, or instead, you could get involved with childbirth as a doula and get a lot of practical childbirth experience!
It's worth noting that some hospitals have two different kinds of obstetrics nurses: labor and delivery nurses and mother-baby nurses. They're pretty self-explanatory; the L&D nurse stays with the mother while she is in labor and having her baby. Within an hour or two after birth, mother and baby together are assigned a new nurse who will care for the mother's postpartum needs (such as checking on any stitches she may have) and also keep an eye on the baby - vital signs and so forth.
I think this is most common in hospitals that still have two (or three) different sections of obstetrics: labor and delivery (sometimes these are separate) and postpartum or mother-baby. More and more hospitals simply have birthing suites - moms who deliver vaginally will stay in one room the entire time - and I think there it's less common for the nurses to have this division of labor.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!