Role Of The Nurse In Labor

Having a baby is one of the most joyful and challenging times of a womans life. Nurses offer relaxation techniques to help women through discomfort and make sure they have everything they need during labor and delivery. Labor and delivery is about more than the delivery of a healthy baby, it is also about a woman’s change into motherhood. Giving birth is a powerful emotional experience, and many women remember numerous details about the experience, even after their children are grown. Women who understand the process of normal labor are better equipped to know what to expect during childbirth and to experience the best possible outcomes. As a labor and delivery room nurse you can make a vital difference in the lives of other people.

Labor and delivery room nurses play an important role for expecting and new mothers. Labor and delivery room nurses not only provide birthing education, do medical tasks, support the doctor in emergencies, but also provide emotional support. They also care for mothers who stay in the hospital after childbirth due to difficulties. These nurses are highly trained in all aspects of maternal and child health, including certification in obstetrics, maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology and breastfeeding support. One of the most important roles of a labor and delivery nurse is to monitor all vital signs of the mother and the fetus, (Thompson Scott 2012) nurses must recognize any signs of distress, such as erratic heart rates or unconsciousness. These nurses instruct patients on all aspects of childbirth including positioning, timing of contractions and proper pushing techniques.


A labor and delivery nurse should be the connection between the patient and the obstetrician or physician. The nurse should consult with the doctor about the progress and alert him as to when the mother is ready to deliver the baby. During a routine vaginal delivery, the doctor may not arrive to the delivery room until minutes before a baby is ready to be born. The nurse should constantly inform the mother and her partner about the progress and consult with both about any possible medical interventions you may need. Labor and delivery nurses take care of women and newborns before, during and after the delivery. (Parker, Mike 2011) The RN creates a personalized care plan based on the woman’s medical history and situation, and assists the doctor during the delivery of the newborn. In case of a cesarean delivery, the RN may also function as a scrub nurse. The labor and delivery nurse is responsible for interpreting the fetal heart rate, cervical change, and the status of the patient. RN’s are responsible for initiating inductions, assisting the laboring patient with pain control or helping those who chose to labor un-medicated. Once the patient is completely dilated the nurse instructs the pushing process, and call for the physician once the baby is ready to be delivered. The labor and delivery nurse is the main caretaker of the patient and baby until the moment of delivery at which point the doctor arrives. Labor and delivery nurses assist with cesarean sections, as well as fetal demise.

When a mother is in position to give birth, the nurse cleans her to prevent infection, and assists the doctor in the delivery process. Assisting can involve the support and guidance of the baby’s head, cleaning the baby’s mouth and nose, checking to make sure the umbilical cord is not wrapped around the baby’s neck and clamping and removing the cord. Nurses may have to


perform any or all of these procedures alone in the event of an emergency birth without a doctor. Those nurses with high-level training can function quite independently, making decisions, prescribing medications, delivering babies and even attending as the primary caregiver during at home births. Labor and delivery involves a lot of patient contact and is a very fast paced work environment but yet can be very rewarding.

The work environments and responsibilities of maternity nurses vary greatly based on certification level and training:

•RNs tend to play a supporting role in labor and delivery settings by monitoring vital signs, assisting with procedures and performing administrative tasks.

•RNs are responsible for planning and delivering patient care in labor and delivery units, operating rooms and nurseries.

•Advanced practice nurses (NPs, CNSs and CNMs) are found in many outpatient settings, including community health centers, obstetric medical offices and private practices. Many also work as educators, policy makers and researchers. Maternity nurses employed by hospitals typically work extended shifts that cover nights, weekends and holidays. They also spend some of their time off “on call,” meaning they may be summoned to work on short notice. (Davila, Lisa 2012)

A labor and delivery nurse must possess excellent critical thinking skills and an ability to make decisions quickly using good professional judgment. All childbirth experiences are unique in their own way and labor and delivery nurses know that birth itself is not predictable, therefore


working as a team and communication is vital in keeping patients comfortable, informed and safe. The nurse must be able to recognize complications and act quickly in order to stabilize the situation and communicate with the patient, the patient’s family, and the appropriate physicians and specialists in order to ensure a healthy delivery.