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Understanding the Role Nurses Play In the Delivery Room

What Responsibilities do Labor and Delivery Nurses Have in the Delivery Room?

In the delivery room, doctors aren’t the only medical professionals playing a vital role in the health and safety of a baby and his or her mother. Labor and delivery nurses also play a critical role in the delivery and care of babies, and usually assist the doctor during childbirth. As medical professionals, nurses must be capable, educated, and trained to think critically, make sound nursing judgments, and act quickly. If you have ever wondered about the role of nurses in the delivery room, keep reading to learn more.

Nurses in the Delivery Room

Labor and delivery nurses work alongside obstetricians and other doctors in labor and delivery rooms, helping administer antepartum (before delivery) and postpartum (after delivery) care. Nurses are often responsible to work with doctors to put together a personalized birthing plan for each mother to ensure that each delivery is safe for the mother and the baby. Before delivery, nurses often discuss the childbirth process with the mother and provide guidance about what to expect. Once the baby is born, nurses are often charged with the task of educating parents about newborns and the care they require.

Labor and delivery nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private clinics, birthing centers, and even in-home settings. They are frequently required to provide the following care:

  • Monitor and time contractions during labor and delivery;
  • Administer epidurals (pain management) and other medications;
  • Assist the doctor in inducing labor by administering Pitocin or Cytotec;
  • Monitor the vital signs of the mother and the heart rate of the baby;
  • Monitor for potentially dangerous complications of medications commonly given during labor and delivery;
  • Communicate with the doctor to provide timely and accurate information;
  • Identify complications and notify the doctor; and
  • Prepare for cesarean (c-section) delivery, including emergency c-sections.

Types of Maternity Nurses

There are different types of labor and delivery nurses, but each one works as a part of the birthing team. Expectant parents will, more than likely, encounter the following types of nurses before, during, and after delivery.

  • Labor and delivery nurse (also sometimes called “antepartum” or “before birth” nurse) – Cares for mother and unborn babies during the labor and delivery process;
  • Scrub Nurse – Assists doctors in surgical procedures by setting up the operating room, assisting with the surgery, and moving the mother to the recovery room after delivery;
  • Circulating Nurse – Assists in the operating room outside the sterile area of the surgery and manages the necessary care inside the operating room;
  • Postpartum Nurse – Cares for mothers and newborns after delivery;
  • Charge Nurse – Nursing supervisor responsible for making sure that nursing care is delivered safely and that all patients on the unit are receiving safe and appropriate care.

Nursing Education and Training

All nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed as a registered nurse. Labor and delivery nurses provide specialized medical care to mothers and babies during critical periods of time.

Before a labor and delivery nurse is allowed to take care of mothers and their unborn babies, the nurse should complete education and training designed to protect the safety of the mother and the baby and to provide appropriate nursing care.

These nurses should receive specialized training in electronic fetal heart monitoring – monitoring the baby’s heart rate and the contractions of the mother’s uterus. Hospitals must ensure that labor and delivery nurses are educated, trained, and competent in fetal heart monitoring to protect the baby.

We Can Answer Your Questions

Labor and delivery nurses play a very important role in the protection of unborn babies and in the care of newborns and mothers. Most nurses are wonderful people who do a very good job. However, there are situations in which nurses are not properly trained or lack adequate experience to provide this critical care resulting in severe injuries to babies. If you have questions about whether the labor and delivery nurses provided appropriate care in your delivery, please contact Birth Injury Safety at (214) 974-4121. We will provide you with information and answer your questions.