The world of labor and delivery is both fascinating and incredibly challenging to work in. It’s an exciting field to work in, helping people bring new babies into the world and being right there with them when they do. As a labor and delivery nurse, you’ll experience one of life’s most precious and fascinating processes every day.
As with every other nursing specialty, there are both pros and cons that come with working as a labor and delivery (L&D) nurse. It is both an incredible and heartbreaking career, but for those who are prepared for what lies ahead of them, it can be a very rewarding career path.
Let’s start with the cons:
5 Cons of Being a Labor and Delivery Nurse
#1. When It’s Bad, It’s Bad
Every nurse experiences good and bad situations, but as an L&D nurse, you’ll live through some of the worst. Delivering babies is a very wonderful feeling, but sometimes, you’ll be faced with the terrible reality of what can happen: stillborn babies, sick babies, death of the gestational parent, and much, much more. When this happens, you have to deliver bad news to a family that most likely arrived filled with joy and excitement.
#2. You Must Remain Professional
Sometimes when future parents or young people arrive, their home life is not good. Maybe it’s abusive, maybe the baby daddy is married to someone else. Even if the baby will not be brought into a good situation, it is still your job to remain professional and supportive while the parent gives birth.
Similarly, some families may have views or beliefs that conflict with medical expertise. If a complication arises and you need to act quickly, the family may be unwilling to let you do what you need to. While this is frustrating and may lead to either or both the birth giver and baby dying, you must respect the family’s wishes.
#3. High Risk of Exposure to Pathogens
While working, you’re much more likely to be exposed to viruses, bacteria, and parasites than other nurses. If you aren’t careful, these pathogens could pass from the birth giver or baby to you and you could take them home to your family. Even if you pay careful attention and always wash off before leaving work, the risk is still there.
#4. You’ll Always Be on Your Feet
L&D nurses spend a lot of time on their feet as there is little time for rest. You’ll be running from one patient to the next and after a while, your feet will start to hurt. Even if you have good shoes, your feet will always feel sore when you finally have a moment to breathe.
#5. It’s Very Draining
L&D nurses are expected to pull, push, and lift patients everyday, making this career very physically draining. Along with the emotional drain of dealing with complicated births or the death of the parent or baby, L&D nurses go through a lot in a day. The job is both physically and emotionally draining, leading to nurse burnout.
5 Pros of Being a Labor and Delivery Nurse
#1. You Get to Bring New Life into the World
Most days, you’ll experience the joy of bringing a new baby into the world and presenting it to its family for the first time. After a long nine months of working to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy, you’ll get to present the family with its newest member and see the joy it brings them.
#2. High Salary
According to ZipRecruiter, the highest salary for a labor and delivery nurse is over $126,000 annually while the lowest salary is over $82,000 annually. On average, L&D nurses make one of the highest nursing salaries even at entry level positions, though it will depend on where you live.
#3. You’ll Save Lives
Although there will be a few horrible moments where you can’t save both the parent and the baby, there will be many times where you save them both. Whether the parent needs an emergency c-section or you’re able to catch a potential problem early on in the pregnancy, your knowledge as an L&D nurse will save lives every day.
#4. You’ll Educate Mothers and Families
A lot of your patients will come in without an adequate knowledge of pregnancy, childbirth, and child caring procedures. Due to a lack of information in the public education system, many new parents will come in completely unprepared for what they’re about to go through.
As a labor and delivery nurse, it’s up to you to educate the parents before the birth. This includes how to keep the baby healthy during the pregnancy, what to watch for, and what to expect when it comes time to give birth. You’ll see a lot of scared parents-to-be, but by helping them understand what their bodies are going through, you can help reassure them.
#5. Pride in Your Work
L&D nurses have a lot to be proud of. The work they do saves lives everyday and is critical to the labor and delivery team. If all you do is hold the hand of your patient and soothe them, your work is still greatly appreciated and vital. Even in worst case scenarios, your comfort and support is important to your patients and team alike.
In today’s world, being a labor and delivery nurse means a lot of different things, but the most important is providing support and care for the family that arrives. You’ll face a lot of challenges, both medically and personally, as you see a variety of patients, but it’s important that you remain professional and provide excellent patient care no matter what.
Being a labor and delivery nurse comes with both pros and cons, just like every other nursing profession, but knowing what they are before you begin your career can help you feel that much more prepared.