Shadowing a Doctor

September 26, 2014

A maternity nurse provides care during the birth of a child. Also known as a labour and delivery nurse, maternity nurses are key members in any obstetrics team. They remain at the expectant mother’s side throughout the delivery and after the delivery they monitor the condition of the mother and baby and provide necessary support and coaching. The work of maternity nurses helps to make delivery a safe and joyous time and ensures a healthy start to each new life.

Detailed job description

Gap Medics students with a patient on the maternity ward in Chiang Mai Maternity nurses care for women who are in labour, have recently delivered a baby or are experiencing complications with their pregnancy. They keep a close eye on the foetal heartbeat and the mother’s blood pressure and other vital signs right through the labour and delivery period. Based on their observations, they create and implement personalised care plans for each of their patients.

Maternity nurses also care for newborns during the first few moments and hours of life. In many cases, these professionals follow up with new mothers to offer support and advice on breastfeeding, childcare and other issues relating to women’s health. 

Many types of nurses are qualified to play a role in maternity care, including certified nurse midwives (CNMs), clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), nurse practitioners (NPs), registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Most nurses in this specialty work under the supervision of a qualified obstetrician. Those with high-level training function independently – delivering babies, prescribing medications, making decisions and even attending as the primary caregiver at home births. 

Maternity nursing is a fast-paced specialty that involves a great deal of patient contact. These specialist nurses take great pride and joy in bringing new life into the world every day.

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

  • LPNs play a more supporting role in labour and delivery settings. They monitor vital signs, assist with procedures and perform necessary administrative tasks. 
  • RNs are responsible for planning and delivering patient care in operating rooms, labour and delivery units and nurseries. 
  • Advanced practice nurses, which include CNMs, NPs and CNSs, can be found in several outpatient settings, including obstetric medical offices, private practices and community health centres. Many also work as researchers, educators and policy makers. 
  • Maternity nurses who work in hospitals usually work shifts, which means having to work nights as well as over weekends and holidays.

As skilled experts in the care of women and children, maternity nurses can be found in any setting that provides reproductive health services, including outpatient clinics, hospitals and doctor’s offices. They also make home visits for those who have decided to give birth at home.