Obstetric nurses, or OB nurses, have one of the most unique and rewarding jobs in healthcare. These nursing professionals are responsible for helping welcome babies into the world and taking care of them during their first few days of life. They care for the entire family during the miracle of childbirth and are instrumental figures in the lives of parents and babies alike.
So, what exactly is the average day in the life of an OB nurse like? Well, that is actually a rather difficult question to answer. Nothing in the maternity ward is ever really “normal” or “average.” In fact, every day is unique in this fast-paced and unpredictable environment. This is why these nurses are always on their toes as they may never know what to really expect. However, one thing is for sure when it comes to OB nurses—their job is extremely important and extremely rewarding.
If you think the journey into obstetrical nursing may be right for you, take a deeper look into what these healthcare professionals do on daily basis and what types of responsibilities they have in their roles as obstetric nurses.
Daily Responsibilities of an OB Nurse
OB nurses have a number of different day-to-day responsibilities. Nurses may walk through the birthing process with moms who are about to deliver and help parents adjust to their new roles after delivery. Here are the main responsibilities these nurses have.
Labor and Delivery Tasks
OB nurses are responsible for helping to take care of mothers when they are in the delivery room. Many times, this also means providing emotional support for an anxious or nervous partner. From the moment an expecting mother enters the hospital to the moment she is released to go home, the OB nurse is there to help. This includes:
- Utilizing equipment to monitor fetal heart rate and contractions with frequent updates to the MD
- Prepping the mom for delivery
- Gather sterile supplies for delivery needed
- Noting signs of potential complications and reporting them to the doctor
- Starting an IV
- Drawing blood
- Administering pain medication
- Labor coaching
- Going in the OR with women who are undergoing Cesarean sections
Post Delivery Responsibilities
Once a woman has welcomed a baby into the world, it doesn’t mean the responsibilities of the OB nurse are done. These nurses also help with recovery room tasks too. After the birth of the baby, these nurses will closely monitor both mom and baby for a few hours before they go to postpartum care. During this time obstetric nurses may help with the following tasks:
- Assist mothers with breastfeeding or formula to ensure adequate nutritional needs
- Assessment of baby minutes after birth for adequate vital body functions
- Monitor and manage vital signs for mom and baby
- Monitor and manage complications due to pregnancy and delivery
A few hours after giving birth, moms and their babies are typically transferred to postpartum care, as long as there is no indication of any major issues. During this time the OB nurses will be responsible for the following:
- Assessing C-section incision site
- Administering pain medication
- Teaching about newborn care
- Applying ice packs
- Monitoring swelling and bleeding
- Helping moms move and start recovering
- Helping the mom get out of bed
- Helping with bonding between parents and babies
- Drawing blood for tests
- Administering any necessary shots
These are all responsibilities that OB nurses may be responsible for each and every day in their jobs.
Additional Skills required to be a OB Nurse
If you are interested in being an obstetric nurse, you not only need to be able to complete the tasks mentioned above, but you need to naturally have additional skills that will help you be successful on the job:
Great Organizational Skills
When entering into any type of nursing career, you need to have strong organizational skills. As an obstetric nurse, you will be caring for many different patients during a single shift and need to make sure that every patient is receiving the right medication and treatment. Attention to detail is a must.
Emotional stability is essential as these nurses need to cope with traumatic experiences and handle hardships, many times on a regular basis.
Critical Thinking Skills
OB nurses need to be able to think critically and quickly to find the best solution for their patients. They must also be able to communicate their thoughts and insights with both the patient and other members of the medical team at a moment’s notice.
Working in the labor and delivery ward can be very rewarding, but also very difficult. Childbirth is a very emotional time in any person’s life, so you not only need to be able to care for these individuals, but have a sense of compassion for them as well.
Many families will have their own plan with how they want their childbirth to go, but as an obstetric nurse, you must be able to make sure they are making a smart choice for their health and the health of their baby while still having compassion for them and their wishes.
Typical Work Environment for OB Nurses
Since obstetric nurses specialize in helping doctors care for pregnant women and deliver babies, they most often work in labor and delivery departments in hospitals. However, some OB nurses can also also work in private doctor’s offices, health clinics or birthing centers.
In every work setting OB nurses are often part of a larger team of caregivers and must learn how to work as a team to make sure they are doing what is best for both the mom and the baby. This job is fast-paced and obstetric nurses need to be ready at a moment’s notice to follow specific directions or make a call on their feet. A good work ethic and willingness to take direction and work together are essential no matter what work environment OB nurses may be in.
Standard Work Hours for Obstetric Nurses
The standard work hours for an OB nurse can vary greatly, mostly because hospitals and many health care facilities are always open. Babies can arrive at virtually any time, so obstetric nurses need to be ready to work at any time.
OB nurses can work morning, afternoon or night shift rotations. Depending on the hospital or care facilities, OB nurses may work five different 8-hour days, 4 different 10-hour days or three different 12-hour days per week. Most nurses ultimately end up working between 36-40 hours per week on average, before overtime.
The Job Outlook for Those Pursuing an OB Nursing Career
OB nurses are required to complete a great deal of school and training before they can work in this field. Obstetric Nursing is an advanced specialty and nurses are typically at least RN’s before tackling the training required to be an OB Nurse.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the median wage for nurses is about $32.45 an hour and growing. Plus, in the years 2014-2024, the BLS estimates a 16% job growth for RNs. The job outlook for these nurses is growing much faster than other careers. There is always a demand for nurses, especially obstetric nurses—making it easier for many educated and trained nurses to find a job in their area.
I Think A Nursing Career Is For Me! What Now?
If you are interested in starting a nursing career, the first thing you need is a nursing degree. To begin your journey, you will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete a qualified nursing program, and earn a nursing license in your state.
If you think that a career in nursing is the perfect job for you, then there is no better time to take the first step towards your nursing degree than now! For starters, you should enroll in a school with a solid RN degree program, such as the Associate of Science in Nursing Degree Program at City College Altamonte Springs. After successfully completing the nursing program you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam (the Nursing Program at City College Altamonte Springs is designed to prepare you for this exam).
There is no shortcut to becoming an obstetric nurse (OB nurse), but with hard work, determination, and a strong education from a solid nursing program, you can achieve your goals of someday entering this field! To request more information about starting your Nursing education, contact City College today and one of our knowledgeable Admissions Representatives will be glad to help you.