Postpartum nurses play an essential role after a mom gives birth to her baby. Postpartum nurses need a range of skills because they will work in a variety of medical environments to provide care for mothers and babies. If you are considering pursuing a position as a postpartum nurse, you have to understand this position’s primary duties and requirements.
In this article, we discuss the job description and the steps in pursuing this career, the postpartum nurse salary and job outlook.
What is a Postpartum Nurse?
Postpartum nurses are medical professionals who provide patient care for mothers and newborns during the days following birth. Due to the nature of this job, postpartum nurses have to use a professional skill set to provide support to mothers in their recovery period. They also need extensive knowledge of newborn healthcare to handle any complications, report medical symptoms, and keep all the babies safe and healthy. In fast-paced medical environments like hospitals or birthing centers, they work closely with other physicians and nurses to address high-risk situations.
What Does a Postpartum Nurse Do?
Postpartum nurses perform a wide range of duties from observing the important impact related to giving birth to providing support and guidance on newborn care. They are assigned from the time that patients leave the labor and delivery room to the time that they are discharged from the hospital. Their duties may vary depending on their experience but a postpartum nurse has common responsibilities including:
- Monitor the vital signs of mother and baby following birth.
- Clean, weigh and dress the newborns.
- Administer vaccinations and take routine tests on the newborns.
- Check the mother and baby for signs of common postpartum complications.
- Supervise medicines of the mother.
- Educate new parents on how to care for the newborn at home.
- Support mothers to establish functional breastfeeding schedules and methods.
- Encourage new mothers emotionally and relay their preferences to the doctors.
- Inform the family about local community support groups for new parents.
5 Steps to Becoming a Postpartum Nurse
Postpartum nurses are registered nurses who are expected to meet certain requirements related to education, experience, and licensure. Before you start a career as a postpartum nurse, you need to follow several specific steps. Here’s how to become one!
1. Pursue Education
Getting a nursing degree from an accredited institution is the first step to becoming a postpartum nurse. You must obtain a two-year Associate’s Degree or a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. These degrees involve coursework such as anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and other relevant subjects. You also need to enroll in clinical labs and observations to get practical nursing experience.
In addition to core courses, as an aspiring postpartum nurse, you can choose to participate in elective classes on neonatal care, obstetrics, and maternal healthcare.
2. Pass the NCLEX
After graduating with an undergraduate nursing degree, you must sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The NCLEX is the official test for registered nurses and nurse practitioners to test the knowledge and skills that they prepare before practicing medicine. Additionally, aspiring nurses who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree are also eligible to get the NCLEX-RN.
This exam tests skill-level in 4 areas including preventative care, care environment, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. Most questions on the NCLEX are multiple-choice and you must answer between 75 and 265 questions. You have 6 hours to complete the exam including several short breaks.
3. Get Licensed
After passing the NCLEX exam, getting a registered nurse license is the next step. Nursing licensure is provided by the Board of Nursing and each state has different policies and requirements. Besides, a registered nurse license is valid for 5 years and must be renewed by enrolling in continuing education programs.
4. Gain Experience
Registered nurses with an ADN or BSN can apply for jobs in hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities. Before getting a position as a postpartum nurse, you can work as a registered nurse in a general capacity to get more clinical experience. When assisting senior nurses, you can observe procedures and interact with patients. It will help you to learn how to work in medicine efficiently and successfully.
5. Obtain Certification
To advance your career and improve your job prospect, you can choose to pursue certification related to the postpartum nurse career like the Maternal Newborn Nursing certification and the Electronic Fetal Monitoring certification offered by the National Certification Corporation.
- The Maternal Newborn Nursing certification proves the advanced competency in the matters of maternal and newborn healthcare. To receive this certification, you must have an unrestricted RN license and documentation of work history. You also need to have 2 years and 2,000 hours of experience working with mothers and newborns.
- The Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM) certification shows the competency of nurses when using specialized equipment to monitor babies before they are born. To obtain the EFM certification, you must be licensed as a registered nurse, nurse midwife, paramedic, or other similar positions. Then you have to complete an online test in 6 hours to receive the certification.
Postpartum Nurse Salary and Job Growth
According to Salary.com, the median hourly wage for a postpartum nurse is $35 per hour. In which, the lowest 10% earn $29 per hour and the top 10% earn $49 per hour. The salary of postpartum nurses depends on a variety of factors such as education level, work setting, and personal experience. According to the BLS, the number of jobs within the nursing sector will grow by approximately 16% between 2014 and 2024 due to the nursing shortage.
If you love caring for babies and new mothers, becoming a postpartum nurse is the fit for you! Hope this article has given you the basic nursing knowledge but more importantly when to pursue a position as a postpartum nurse. We also have another article “3 Ways Nurses Improve Their Clinical Reasoning Skills in Nursing” that helps you to advance your nursing career.