What is Obstetrical Nursing?

Obstetrical nursing is a specialty in which nurses provide medical care for pregnant women through all stages of their pregnancy. A nursing career can be deeply satisfying and lucrative, and nurses are always in demand both in the U.S. and around the world.

Of the many nursing jobs, obstetrical nursing is one of the most meaningful and exciting occupational fields. An obstetrics nurse works with pregnant women throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery, and recovery to provide medical guidance, care, support, monitoring, and information.

Why Choose an Obstetrical Nursing Career?

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Working as a nurse in the obstetrics department of a hospital or as an obstetrician in a medical practice means the nurse will work directly with maternity patients, the women who are pregnant and preparing to give birth. While having a baby is a fairly normal event, many types of complications can occur at any stage.

What Does Obstetrical Nurse Do?

OB nurses care for women during pregnancy. They are responsible for understanding all the potential problems women can face while pregnant. At the beginning of the pregnancy, a woman infected with HIV may require special care or monitoring. Women with serious medical conditions, such as a weak heart, diabetes, cancer, or other problems, often get checked more frequently than someone without medical issues. Those on special medications or with physical or mental disabilities may have other needs for the evaluation, monitoring, or treatment to keep both mother and child safe and healthy.

During the pregnancy, various complications may arise. For example, gestational diabetes, a problem with the fetus, or extreme pregnancy side effects like frequent nausea and vomiting or severe fatigue may interfere with the mother’s well-being.

Late pregnancy during the last trimester often presents other difficulties. For example, Pre-eclampsia, toxemia, Placenta Previa, or preterm delivery are problems that can sometimes be life-threatening for both mother and baby.

An obstetrics nurse needs the education and experience to work with patients who are diagnosed with conditions like these. The nurse must be able to remain calm and have the ability to reassure the patient who is under stress from her pregnancy complications. In addition, the role requires clear, prompt communication between the nurse and the doctor, and other medical staff overseeing the patient’s care.

How Do You Become an Obstetrical Nurse?

Nurses who are squeamish might not feel comfortable in this job, especially if witnessing pain or blood makes them uneasy. Usually, however, the warm feeling of helping a woman bring new life into the world overshadows other hesitations or concerns. Another important task is to work with a family by keeping the baby’s father informed if he is in the picture, along with grandparents, siblings, and close friends.

Many friends and relatives want to be in the delivery room during delivery. And they want to know mom’s-to-be progress almost on a minute-by-minute basis. So the maternity nurse will need to be clear but firm in providing necessary information while not feeling pressure to divulge countless details.

What Type of Education is Required for a Nursing Degree?

A bachelor of science in nursing, or a BSN nursing degree, is the standard requirement for many employers. In addition, hospitals, nursing homes, convalescent centers, and related nursing agencies prefer a BSN. The Registered Nurse designation with a two-year ADN is sufficient. But currently, the prevailing practice is to hire nurses with a four-year degree that includes rotations at various hospital units.

Do You Have What it Takes to Become an OB Nurse?

A nurse who works with pregnant women will need to be compassionate and patient, as pregnant women are very concerned about their unborn babies and may have many questions to ask. In addition, a nursing career requires physical stamina for nurses to be on their feet doing their job, often for long hours. Sometimes, nurses need to lift patients or equipment, which can be strenuous.

Medical terminology is part of the education a nurse will receive. So nurses should review these terms frequently for accuracy in doing the job. Extensive record-keeping is also an important task. Records are vital for the patient’s well-being and the doctor’s evaluation. However, insurance offices and government agencies also review them to grant benefits and pay bills.

Versatility is another helpful trait. Obstetrical nursing may involve working with teenage girls or middle-aged women. Pregnant women sometimes lose their unborn babies to miscarriage or stillbirth. So instead of celebrating with a patient, the nurse may need to share her grief briefly. Some medical staff is difficult to work with, so nurses need communication skills to work with different personality styles.

An obstetrics nurse performs some of the most needful work in society in helping pregnant women safely deliver a healthy child. Helping a woman give life is arguably one of the most important jobs a person can hold. Also, many OB nurses join the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN).