Obstetrics Nurse Jobs: 5 Specialties to Consider

Obstetrics nurses specialize in labor and delivery. Learn more about the specialization options in obstetrics, obstetrics nurse salary data, and how to find a job.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published September 1, 2022

Reviewed by Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

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Obstetrics Nurse Jobs: 5 Specialties to Consider
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Obstetrics nurses care for patients during labor and delivery. They also specialize in prenatal care, postpartum care, and lactation support. While neonatal nurses focus on caring for newborns, obstetrics nurses primarily work with expectant and postpartum patients.

Nurses considering obstetrics specialties can work in labor and delivery, perinatal care, or postpartum care. The nursing career also offers opportunities for advancement with a graduate degree. Our guide offers resources on obstetrics nurse specialties, including obstetrics nurse salary data.

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Ready to start your journey?

How to Become an Obstetrics Nurse

Are you curious about how to become an obstetrics nurse? Our rundown lists the four steps required for obstetrics nurse jobs.

Becoming an obstetrics nurse typically takes 2-4 years, depending on the educational path. Obstetrics nurses specialize their skills during nursing school and on the job. Obstetrics nurses can also consider a master's degree in nursing to move into advanced practice and leadership roles.

5 Types of Obstetrics Nurse Specialities

Labor and Delivery Nurse

  • Average Salary (as of July 2022): $68,620
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2020-2030): 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: Registered nurse license

Labor and delivery nurses care for patients during and after labor. They conduct regular health assessments, monitor vital signs, and assist physicians during delivery. Labor and delivery nurses also administer medication during the delivery process and operate medical equipment. After birth, these nurses care for newborns and postpartum patients.

Most labor and delivery nurses work in hospital settings, which typically require irregular hours. They typically hold a bachelor's degree in nursing and need a registered nursing license. Careers as a labor and delivery nurse require strong communication and patient care skills.


Perinatal Nurse

  • Average Annual Salary (as of August 2022): $68,810
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2020-2030): 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: Registered nurse license

Perinatal nurses specialize in caring for pregnant patients. They work closely with patients to develop birth plans, educate patients on prenatal care, and prepare patients for labor and delivery. Perinatal nurses may also provide postpartum care for patients or care for newborns. During the prenatal stage, these nurses also monitor patients for conditions that could affect labor and delivery.

As a key member of the obstetrics team, perinatal nurses work closely with OBGYNs, women's health nurse practitioners, and obstetrics nursing assistants. They work in OBGYN offices, hospitals, and home health settings.


Lactation Nurse

  • Average Annual Salary (as of July 2022): $57,620
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2020-2030): 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: Registered nurse license

Lactation nurses assist parents with breastfeeding, including establishing a breastfeeding routine, addressing problems related to breastfeeding, and treating lactation-related conditions. They help parents with latching problems, milk production issues, and pain. Lactation nurses also educate patients on breast pumps and other breastfeeding techniques.

Many lactation nurses work in hospitals, while others conduct home visits. Some lactation consultants offer group classes or support groups. They also work directly with families. Lactation nurses typically hold an RN license and bring additional training in breastfeeding and lactation.


Nurse Midwife

  • Median Annual Salary (as of May 2021): $112,830
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2020-2030): 11%
  • Licenses/Certifications: Certified nurse midwife credential and advanced practice registered nurse license

Nurse midwives are advanced practice RNs (APRNs) who specialize in women's health, prenatal care, and labor and delivery. In addition to delivering babies, nurse midwives handle emergencies during labor, including assisting surgeons during cesarean sections. As APRNs, they can offer primary maternity care, which includes prescribing treatments and diagnosing conditions.

The responsibilities of a nurse midwife also include wellness care, family planning services, and reproductive health. Nurse midwives must hold a graduate degree and pursue certification to practice in every state.


Postpartum Care Nurse

  • Average Hourly Pay (as of August 2022): $57,560
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2020-2030): 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: Registered nurse license

Postpartum care nurses treat patients immediately after labor and delivery. They conduct health assessments on postpartum parents and newborns. Postpartum nurses also administer medication and monitor patients for medical distress. They also educate new parents on caring for infants, including feeding, bathing, and infant safety.

These obstetrics nurses typically work in a hospital setting, where they work with a team of physicians, lactation consultants, and other nurses. The role requires patience and compassion, along with excellent communication skills. They also interact extensively with newborns compared with other obstetrics nurse jobs.

Obstetrics Nurse Salary

Obstetrics nurses typically earn between $57,000 and $113,000. The average obstetrics nurse salary may increase with experience. Additionally, advanced practice RN roles typically offer higher salaries.

Editor's note: Some of the salary numbers above may be based on relatively small samples, and potential nursing salaries could vary widely depending on the employer. Reach out to a relevant professional nursing organization for more information about potential salaries in your area.

How to Find an Obstetrics Nurse Job

Obstetrics nurses can begin preparing for the job market while in nursing school. Gaining clinical skills through specialized coursework and practicums helps aspiring obstetrics nurses meet job requirements.

During clinical rotations, nursing students can also network with current nurses to improve their job search. Finally, nursing students can attend career fairs and connect with their nursing school's career services office to improve their job search.

After graduating and completing the RN licensure process, obstetrics nurses can reach out to recruiters and apply for open positions.

The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses, a professional organization for obstetrics nurses, offers a job board with postings for multiple obstetrics nurse specialties. Mock interviews and resume reviews also help nurses on the job market.

Obstetrics Nurse Professional Organizations

Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses: AWHONN offers education and professional development support for obstetric nurses. They offer nurse resources, publish journals, and award scholarships and grants for nursing students.

American College of Nurse-Midwives: ACNM advocates for nurse midwives. The college holds virtual clinical labs, offers continuing education resources, and publishes a journal on midwifery. Members can also attend conferences to network.

International Lactation Consultant Association: ILCA represents lactation consultants, including lactation nurses. The association hosts conferences with networking opportunities, provides emergency resources, and offers membership benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions About Obstetrics Nurse Jobs

What is the highest-paid obstetrics nurse speciality?

Advanced practice specialties offer the highest obstetrics nurse salary potential. For example, nurse midwives reported a median salary of $112,830 per year, according to May 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurse practitioners earned a median annual salary of $120,680.

The most common nurse practitioner specialties related to obstetrics include women's health nurse practitioner, labor and delivery nurse practitioner, and neonatal nurse practitioner.

Several factors influence salaries, including experience, degree, and location.

What obstetrics nurse speciality is the most popular?

According to the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey, around 10% of nurses work in obstetrics, neonatal care, or pediatric care. That makes obstetrics a popular specialty for nurses.

Within obstetrics, nurses work in labor and delivery, perinatal care, and postpartum care. Nurses can also work as lactation consultants. These roles involve caring for patients throughout pregnancy and delivery. Hospitals in every area have a need for obstetrics nurses.

However, demand depends on factors like the location and setting. Nurses interested in obstetrics careers benefit from researching the in-demand specializations within their area.

Can I become an obstetrics nurse with an online degree?

Yes, you can become an obstetrics nurse with an online degree. Many top-ranked nursing schools offer online programs, including online obstetrics nurse schools. Prospective nurses can earn an online BSN degree, which incorporates virtual classes and hands-on training in the student's local area.

In these programs, for example, learners complete clinical requirements at approved sites in their area. Current RNs seeking more specialized roles can also pursue an online RN-to-BSN degree. These programs offer a flexible format to earn a higher nursing degree.

Finally, many nursing schools also offer online graduate programs to become a nurse leader or advanced practice RN.

How much money can I make as an obstetrics nurse?

Obstetrics nurses typically earn between $57,000 and $113,000. Obstetrics nurses may increase their earning potential with additional training or a graduate degree.

What is the fastest way to become an obstetrics nurse?

The fastest route to careers as an obstetrics nurse starts with an associate degree in nursing (ADN). In a two-year ADN program, nursing students gain the clinical skills and knowledge to apply for an RN license.

After completing a program, nursing students take the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for their RN license. Nurses can then apply for obstetrics nurse jobs.

However, most nurses today hold a BSN degree. And many employers prefer to hire nurses with a BSN. According to a 2020 survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 82% of employers prefer to hire nurses with a BSN. These programs typically take four years.

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