Pregnancies, birth and the period after giving birth are emotional times, to say the very least. We’ve all heard the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This popular saying exists because women need a network of support during this beautiful but challenging time. Sure, much of that support comes from family and friends. Still, another individual plays an important role during this period in a woman’s and her baby’s life—a postpartum nurse.
The name of this role may seem to say it all, but this is a complex role in the healthcare ecosystem that requires a lot of mental and emotional energy for the person who performs it. And, where there is hard work, there are big rewards. In this case, those rewards are helping new mothers feel prepared as they leave the hospital and transition into taking care of their newborn at home.
So, how can you prepare for this career? The first step to being the best healthcare professional possible is doing a bit of homework on the job (not to mention a fair amount of soul-searching) to make sure it’s right for you. These are demanding roles in which one makes a huge difference in their patients’ lives, and if you’re reading this, we already know you’re the kind of person who hopes to make that impact.
Read on to learn what being a postpartum nurse entails and all about the postpartum nurse education and certification requirements.
What is a postpartum nurse?
In short, postpartum nurses provide care to mothers after they give birth. In this role, nurses monitor physical and emotional conditions, looking out for postpartum depression and physiological issues in both the mother and newborn.
Postpartum nurses are also sources of important information, as new mothers need support on several levels. One of these is knowing how to take care of their newborn. While contemporary society may offer its “instruction manuals” in books and blogs, there’s no one more informed than a healthcare professional specializing in the field.
Part of the educational resources that postpartum nurses provide is information on breastfeeding, but in general, these healthcare pros also help new mothers feel confident about the road ahead. And, when one feels confident and prepared, they’re ready to take on anything.
What does a postpartum nurse do?
So what does it look like to provide postpartum support to new moms? Let us break it down for you. The tasks within a postpartum nurse job description usually look something like this:
- Monitor vital signs
- Make care plans
- Monitor changes in condition (of both the mother and newborn)
- Assist with recovery
- Administer IVs
- Dress wounds
- Give tips on breastfeeding and care (bathing, safety, etc.)
- Track signs of postpartum depression and provide moral support
- Wash newborns
- Administer pain medication or antibiotics
- Work in a team to ensure care plans are fulfilled
How to become a postpartum nurse + educational requirements
If this sounds like the perfect job for you, it’s time to hit the books. You’ll need to start your career path by getting your Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). This work isn’t all about late nights at the library. You’ll be learning the skills of the trade that you’ll need to perform this very hands-on career. Speaking of hands-on experience, try to put in some hours at a delivery ward or obstetrics office. Later down the line, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve worked a certain amount of clinical hours.
Once you’ve graduated from a degree program, it’s time to get your RN certification. Of course, you’ll pass the NCLEX-RN with flying colors, and then you’ll be ready to take on your next challenge, which is getting a couple of specialized postpartum work certifications. These are the Maternal Newborn Nursing (RNC-MNN) and Electronic Fetal Monitoring certifications.
Where do postpartum nurses work?
The short answer to what is a very long list of places is—anywhere that women are giving birth. That’s because not everyone opts to give birth in a hospital, and they may choose to do so at home or in other settings like birthing centers. So, it’s more about who postpartum nurses work with than where.
Postpartum nurses who work in hospitals are usually found in the maternity ward or postpartum unit.
Some postpartum nurses also work in clinics and private practices, so if you are looking for a rewarding nursing career that allows you some flexibility on where you work, this path may be right for you.
Should I become a postpartum nurse?
To assess whether this career is right, you can use these filters to assess your suitability. Are you compassionate? Are you a patient teacher? Do you like educating others? Are you understanding and non-judgmental? If you answered yes, you are likely a great candidate.
What is the career outlook for postpartum nurses?
Nursing, in general, is typically a career with a great outlook. People need medical care, no matter what, and in the case of postpartum nursing, new mothers will always need care after giving birth. So as long as more and more babies keep coming into the world, the career outlook for this type of work should stay on the upswing when it comes to available roles and general job demand.
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks—or, better yet, nickels and dimes. We all need to make a living, even if we are doing work that fulfills us emotionally and intellectually. The average postpartum nursing salary comes in at around $100,000 annually.
Remember, wherever your medical career takes you, we’re here to keep you looking good and feeling great. The same goes for the rest of your team, too. Come to us with your scrub needs and questions about the many nursing careers out there—and best of luck always!