4 Qualities That Make a Good Labor & Delivery Nurse

labor and delivery nurse
Written by
Jacky Habib
July 1, 2023

Becoming a labor and delivery nurse can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path as you care for birthing individuals during the delivery process. It requires a unique set of skills, qualities, and a genuine passion for providing exceptional care to expectant parents and their newborns. 

If you’re a new nurse interested in specializing in labor and delivery, this blog post will explore the characteristics you’ll need while working in this role and provide valuable tips to support you in your career growth in the coming years. 

Characteristics of Good Labor and Delivery Nurses 

To excel in the field of labor and delivery nursing, it's essential to possess certain qualities and characteristics which make for a great nurse, from compassion and critical thinking skills to the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. Keep reading to learn more about these qualities. 

1. Compassion and Empathy

Labor and delivery can be an emotionally charged experience for individuals giving birth and those around them. To be a good labor and delivery nurse, you’ll need to demonstrate compassion and empathy and offer emotional support, which includes reassurance throughout the birthing process.

2. Ability to Remain Calm 

Labor and delivery can be an intense experience, and working in this hospital unit can be especially stressful during unexpected challenges in childbirth. Remaining calm is essential, so you can work with other healthcare professionals like obstetricians and midwives to make rational decisions and provide a calming presence for birthing individuals and those around them, particularly while they are stressed, anxious, or in pain—and the likelihood of this can be high during childbirth, as it’s one of the most important and intense life events someone can experience. 

3. Critical Thinking Skills

Labor and delivery nurses must have fast thinking skills and the ability to make informed decisions under stressful conditions. Childbirth is an incredible and miraculous experience, but it can also be devastating when it doesn’t go according to plan. Nurses can experience trauma and grief as they cope with losing a patient to maternal mortality or infant mortality. In the hours and moments during these challenging incidences, nurses need to be able to think critically to provide the best care possible to patients, anticipate potential complications, and respond appropriately in difficult situations. 

4. Strong Communication Skills

Effective communication is crucial as a labor and delivery nurse—particularly because you’ll be working with a team of other health professionals during the delivery process and will also need to communicate with the birthing individual and their family members or anyone else who is present during the birth. Labor and delivery nurses should be able to communicate compassionately to ensure that the birthing individual is knowledgeable about the process and feels supported throughout. 

Effective Tips for New Nurses in Labor and Delivery

As a new labor and delivery nurse, it’s important to take the initiative to pursue personal and professional development opportunities so you can strengthen your skills, develop the essential characteristics of a good labor and delivery nurse, and continue to grow in this role. Follow the below tips to build up your confidence as a new labor and delivery nurse. 

  • Seek mentorship: As a new nurse, seeking mentorship can help expand your knowledge and fast-track your learning as a labor and delivery nurse. According to research from a pilot mentorship program in Northern Karnataka, India, nurses reported an increased ability to provide care according to stipulated guidelines and an overall increase in the nurses’ knowledge and skills. 
  • Network with other labor and delivery nurses: By joining in-person or online communities for nursing professionals, such as Nursa’s online community, you can meet other like-minded healthcare professionals, including labor and delivery nurses, so you can learn from their experiences, potentially pursue mentorship, and explore other career opportunities. 
  • Pursue continuing education: Labor and delivery nurses need specialized knowledge in obstetrics, neonatal care, and maternal health. Connect with and follow along with the work of organizations, including the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, so you can be up-to-date on the best practices to provide evidence-based care to patients. You can also attend conferences and workshops on obstetrics and neonatal care. 
  • Practice self-care: Being a labor and delivery nurse can be incredibly rewarding but also stressful. As with any nursing position, it’s important to practice self-care and put yourself first during your off-hours, as so much of your time and working hours are spent caring for others. According to research on self-care for nurses and midwives, an intentional practice of self-care builds resilience and lessens burnout and secondary trauma. Self-care practices such as mindfulness, compassion, and resilience were critical in promoting the overall well-being of the nurses within the workplace. Check out our top tips for how to take care of yourself as a nurse and commit to taking at least one action. 

Looking to pick up high-paying per diem shifts in various nursing specialties, including labor and delivery nursing? Download the Nursa app today to browse nearby opportunities that fit your ideal work schedule.

Jacky Habib
Blog published on:
July 1, 2023

Meet Jacky, a contributing copywriter at Nursa who specializes in writing about nursing specialties, FAQs, and career advice.

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