Postpartum nurses play an important role in the process of the birth of a newborn. They use a range of skills and work in a variety of medical environments to provide care to mothers, babies and their families. If you are interested in becoming a postpartum nurse, you will need to know about the job's primary duties and requirements. In this article, we will discuss a postpartum nurse's job description and the steps involved in pursuing this career.
Read more: Learn About Being a Neonatal Nurse
What is a postpartum nurse?
Postpartum nurses are medical professionals who care for mothers and newborns during the days following the birth. They use a wide range of professional skills to provide physical and emotional support to mothers during their recovery period. They also use their extensive knowledge of newborn healthcare to address any complications, report medical symptoms and make sure that all the babies under their care are safe and healthy. Postpartum nurses work in fast-paced medical environments like hospitals and birthing centers. They are equipped to work alongside a team of other doctors and nurses and to handle high-risk situations.
What does a postpartum nurse do?
Postpartum nurses are primarily concerned with providing quality healthcare to mothers and newborns. Their specific duties may vary depending on their level of experience, but a typical postpartum nurse is responsible for:
- Monitoring the vital signs of mother and baby following a birth
- Cleaning, weighing and dressing the newborns
- Administering vaccinations and performing routine tests on the newborns
- Constantly checking the mother and baby for signs of common postpartum complications
- Overseeing any taking of medicines by the mother
- Educating new parents on how to care for their newborn when they go home
- Helping the mother to establish functional breastfeeding schedules and methods
- Encouraging and supporting new mothers emotionally and relaying their preferences to the doctors
- Inform the family about local community support groups for new parents
Read more: Learn About Being a Nursing Assistant
How to become a postpartum nurse
Before you can begin a career as a postpartum nurse, you will need to follow several specific steps. Postpartum nurses are typically expected to meet certain requirements related to education, experience and licensure. The steps to becoming a postpartum nurse include:
- Pursue education.
- Pass the NCLEX.
- Become licensed.
- Apply for jobs and gain experience.
- Consider certification.
1. Pursue education
The first step to becoming a postpartum nurse is getting a nursing degree from an accredited institution. This consists of several steps. First, nursing students must earn either a two-year Associate's Degree or a four-year Bachelor's Degree in Nursing. This will involve coursework that teaches anatomy, physiology, medical terminology and other relevant subjects. Students will also participate in clinical labs and observations which will provide practical nursing experience.
In addition to core courses, aspiring postpartum nurses often choose to enroll in elective classes that focus on neonatal care, obstetrics and maternal healthcare.
Read more: Learn About Being a Registered Nurse
2. Pass the NCLEX
After graduating with an undergraduate nursing degree, nursing students must pass the NCLEX. The National Council Licensure Examination is the official test that every registered nurse and nurse practitioner must take at some point in their career. Aspiring nurses who have an associate's or bachelor's degree are qualified to take the NCLEX-RN.
This exam determines the test taker's skill-level in four areas: preventative care, care environment, psychosocial integrity and physiological integrity. The purpose of the NCLEX is to make sure that nursing students are thoroughly prepared before they begin to practice medicine in a professional capacity.
Most questions on the NCLEX are multiple-choice and test-takers must answer between 75 and 265 questions, depending on their performance during the first section. Test takers are allowed six hours to complete the exam, including several short breaks.
3. Become licensed
After passing the exam, nurses must apply for a registered nurse license in the state where they intend to work. Nursing licensure is awarded by each state's individual Board of Nursing. Each state has different policies and requirements, so it is important to research before applying. Most states will require proof of graduation from an accredited nursing institution, proof of a satisfactory score on the NCLEX and a clean background check.
Registered nurse licenses are valid for five years and must be renewed regularly. Some states require registered nurses to participate in continuing education programs to renew.
4. Apply for jobs and gain experience
Registered nurses with an ADN or BSN are qualified to apply for jobs in hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities. There are many job search resources available to nurses, including professional network websites, online job boards and job listings in medical journals.
Some nurses may choose to work as a registered nurse in a general capacity for a year or two before attempting to find a position as a postpartum nurse. Any entry-level job in a medical environment can provide a nurse with important clinical experience.
Some postpartum nurses are hired directly after obtaining their license but they will require substantial on-the-job training from other experienced postpartum nurses before they can practice independently. Assisting senior nurses, observing procedures and interacting with patients will help the nurse to learn how to practice postpartum medicine efficiently and successfully.
5. Consider certification.
To advance their careers and improve their job prospects, many postpartum nurses choose to pursue certification. There are several relevant credentials that postpartum nurses can choose from. The two most common are the Maternal Newborn Nursing certification and the Electronic Fetal Monitoring certification. Both credentials are offered by the National Certification Corporation.
The MNN credential certifies that its holders possess advanced competency in the matters of maternal and newborn healthcare. To receive this certification, postpartum nurses must have an unrestricted RN license and thorough documentation of their work history, as well as two years and 2,000 hours of experience working with mothers and newborns. Applicants must pay $325 and pass the online exam in less than six hours to obtain the MNN certification.
The EFM certification is given to postpartum nurses who prove their competency with all the specialized equipment nurses related to monitoring babies before they are born. This equipment is used to monitor a fetus' heartbeat and two produce photo and video images using ultrasound. EFM competency also includes the ability to read and interpret all the data produced by these machines accurately.
To obtain the EFM certification, postpartum nurses be licensed to practice as a registered nurse, nurse midwife, paramedic or another similar position. They must pay $210 and complete an online test in six hours to receive the certification. The test consists of 125 multiple choice questions that are all directly related to the use and maintenance of EFM equipment.