What Is a Postpartum Nurse?

The postpartum or mother-baby nurse is tasked with caring for both mother and newborn baby once a birth has taken place. This nurse utilizes a strong set of skills to recognize and act upon postpartum emergencies for both patients. The postpartum nurse appreciates a busy working environment and the challenge of quickly detecting complications from childbirth. A large part of this nurse’s job is teaching new mothers how to properly care for herself as well as her newborn after the delivery. Lactation nurses are often postpartum nurses who have become certified.

Becoming a Postpartum Nurse

After the nursing student graduates school and becomes licensed as an RN, he/she is then able to apply for a postpartum nursing position. Working in this specialized area is usually available to new graduate RNs but will require training after hire. This is usually accomplished through didactic, or textbook, learning, as well as working closely with a preceptor to learn how to critically think like a postpartum nurse should. Experienced nurses can also make the switch into postpartum by applying to a hospital or Birthing Center's listing. At most facilities, at least 1 year of bedside experience is required.

Often, nurses who wish to work in labor/delivery are required to start in postpartum before they are eligible to apply.

What Are the Education Requirements for Postpartum Nurses?

Both ADN and BSN educated nurses are eligible to apply for postpartum nursing positions at most hospitals. Some hospitals require RNs to hold a BSN degree or higher.

Postpartum nurses are required to have an RN license from the state in which he/she will practice nursing. The RN license can be applied for after meeting the State Board of Nursing's requirements, which consist of earning at least an ADN from an accredited nursing school and passing the NCLEX-RN.

Are Any Certifications or Credentials Needed?

A few certifications are available for postpartum nurses. First, the Electronic Fetal Monitoring certification is a requirement at many hospitals.

The other main certification is the Maternal Newborn Nursing (RNC-MNN). This certification demonstrates expertise and dedication to the specialty. While not required to be hired into the position, this certification is often required by hospitals after some years of employment. It requires 24-months of employment in the specialty.

Where Do Postpartum Nurses Work?

The postpartum nurse works primarily in the postpartum or maternity unit of a hospital. They can also work in birthing centers, which have grown in popularity in recent years. Other places that employ postpartum nurses include clinics and private practices. Postpartum nurses work closely with other medical professionals, including OB-GYN doctors, labor and delivery specialty nurses, nursery nurses, lactation consultants, and more.

What Does a Postpartum Nurse Do?

Postpartum nurses provide important physical and emotional care and recovery for both the new mom and the newborn baby following a delivery. They are trained to educate the new mother and watch for signs of postpartum depression, and may work in tandem with a lactation consultant to assist with breastfeeding. A large part of their role is providing support for the mother in any way that's needed.

What Are the Roles and Duties of a Postpartum Nurse?

  • Assess and monitor the new mother after delivery to ensure proper recovery and healing
  • Clean and monitor the newborn baby
  • Check vital signs
  • Check caesarian incisions if applicable
  • Remove catheters after delivery
  • Dispense pain medication and/or antibiotics as needed
  • Provide education to new parents regarding how to care for an infant
  • Help the new mother with the emotional aspects of the birth recovery
  • Work with lactation consultants to help the new mother breastfeed

RELATED: You Have The Right To Breastfeed Your Baby [Infographic]

Postpartum Nurse Salary & Employment

A postpartum nurse has a median salary in the US of $65,077. Location, experience, certifications, and education affect the salary.

With no shortage of births in the country, postpartum nursing has a favorable employment outlook. Some nurses gain experience in postpartum nursing and then go on to work as a lactation nurse, labor and delivery nurse, or other maternity specialty, making it a versatile career move. Postpartum nurses must be able to handle working odd hours, as babies are born at all times of the day and night.

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