Perinatal Nursing

Perinatal nurses provide nursing care to women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. Sometimes referred to as obstetric nurses or prenatal nurses, they can work in both inpatient and outpatient settings, including the private practices of midwives or obstetricians, in hospitals, birth centers, or community health centers. Private practice perinatal nurses usually assist obstetricians or midwives at prenatal check ups, measuring progress and answering any questions an expectant mother might have. A perinatal nurse working in a hospital can work in labor and delivery or see high risk patients or patients with complications such as pre-eclampsia, premature labor, or gestational diabetes.

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The period of time before, during, and after birth is a crucial time for both the mother and her baby, and a perinatal nurse is an important source of care, support, and education. Education is a large role, especially for first-time mothers who might require support throughout the process, from pregnancy to labor to breastfeeding and newborn care.

Becoming a licensed registered nurse (RN) is the first step toward this highly rewarding career. You have the option of earning a nursing degree in two to three years and earning your associate’s degree of science in nursing (ASN/ADN) or earning a four-year bachelor’s degree (BSN) in nursing. Once you graduate you must pass your states NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination), given by the state’s board of nursing.

There is room for growth in many different directions in this field. You could pursue a graduate degree in nursing and become a perinatal clinical nurse specialist, or become a perinatal nurse practitioner. You could specialize in high risk cases, or advance to the position of head nurse in the perinatal nursing environment. You could work solely in a physician’s office seeing pregnant women, or in labor and delivery, or train for both sides.

Registered nurses face impending shortages and are projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be one of the fastest growing professions throughout 2016. Employers like perinatal nurses, because of their additional training and education, which will keep them in demand. According to, the average salary for a prenatal nurse is as high as $66,000 in some large cities.

This can be a very inspiring nursing specialty if you are a nurse or hope to be one and feel passionate about quality nursing care for new mothers and infants. Emotional support as well as proper care and education are imperative for successful, happy, and positive pregnancy and birth experiences. Get started now on your nursing education or specialized course work if you interested in this field. It can be an emotional job but one that is also very valuable to the patients and highly rewarding for the nurses.

(Sources: University of California, Perinatal Advanced Practice Nursing)