How To Become a Postpartum Nurse | Application & Salary

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Postpartum nurses are one of many types of medical providers who care for people and their babies immediately after delivery.

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’re interested in becoming a postpartum nurse, it’s helpful to learn about the job’s primary duties and requirements.

In this article, we explain what a postpartum nurse is and what they do, list the steps you can take to become one, and provide the average salary and job outlook for the role.

What is a postpartum nurse?

Postpartum nurses are medical providers who care for patients and their newborns during the days immediately following birth.

They use a variety of skills to provide physical and emotional support to each patient during their recovery period and rely on their extensive knowledge of newborn health to provide quality care.

Postpartum nurses identify and address complications, report medical symptoms and ensure the safety and care of all patients and babies based on their individual health statuses and needs.

They typically work in fast-paced medical environments like hospitals and birthing centers and work alongside a team of doctors and other nurses.

What does a postpartum nurse do?

While all postpartum nurses focus on providing health care to parents and newborns, their specific duties may vary depending on their experience. The general responsibilities of a postpartum nurse often include:

  • Monitoring the vital signs of mother and baby following a birth
  • Cleaning, weighing, and dressing newborns
  • Administering vaccinations and performing routine tests on newborns
  • Checking in with the parent and baby for signs of common postpartum complications
  • Overseeing and administering the patients’ medications
  • Educating new parents on how to care for their newborns when they go home
  • Helping patients establish functional breastfeeding schedules and methods
  • Encouraging and supporting new parents emotionally and relaying their preferences to the doctors
  • Inform the family about local community support groups for new parents
  • How to become a postpartum nurse

Here are five steps you can take to become a postpartum nurse:

1. Pursue your education

The first step to becoming a postpartum nurse is earning a nursing degree from an accredited institution. Nursing students earn either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Many employers require nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree or advance from a two-year degree to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) within a certain timeframe to qualify for open positions.

Coursework typically involves anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and nursing topics.

Students also take part in clinical labs and observations, which provide practical experience. Besides core courses, students may enroll in elective classes that focus on neonatal care, obstetrics, and maternal health care.

 2. Pass the NCLEX

After earning an undergraduate nursing degree, students pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to work in the field.

The NCLEX is the official test required to work legally as a nurse in any state. Aspiring nurses who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing are qualified to take the NCLEX-RN, which is specifically for registered nurses (RNs). This test determines the candidate’s skill level in four areas:

  • Preventative care
  • Care environment
  • Psychosocial integrity
  • Physiological integrity

3. Become licensed

After passing the NCLEX-RN exam, nurses apply for an RN license in the state where they intend to work. Each state has different policies and requirements, so remember to research the requirements where you live before you apply.

You can receive multiple licenses or endorsements if you plan to work in two or more states.

Most states require a minimum of proof of graduation from an accredited nursing institution, proof of a satisfactory score on the NCLEX, and a clean background check to receive a license.

They may also have limits on how much time you have to complete your application once you start the process. Other requirements may include fingerprinting, proof of citizenship, and an application fee.

4. Apply for jobs and gain experience

Licensed RNs qualify 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.

You can also consider asking management teams at facilities where you completed your clinical rotations if they have any openings for a postpartum nurse.

Some postpartum nurses work in these roles immediately after obtaining their license, but they may 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 can help the nurse ‌learn how to practice postpartum nursing efficiently. Pursuing an internship may help you gain the knowledge and skills needed to get a job as a postpartum nurse.

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, but two common options are the Certification in Maternal Newborn Nursing (RNC-MNN) and Certification in Electronic Fetal Monitoring (C-EFM).

Here’s some information about each certification:

RNC-MNN: This certification requires postpartum nurses to have an unrestricted RN license, thorough documentation of their work history, and two years and 2,000 hours of experience working with mothers and newborns. Candidates pay a registration fee and pass the online exam in less than six hours to earn MNN certification.

C-EFM: This certification requires candidates to have a license as a registered nurse, nurse midwife, paramedic, or another similar position.

The online test contains 125 multiple-choice questions related to the use and maintenance of EFM equipment, and after passing it, candidates can receive the certification.

6. Continue your education

RN licenses are often valid for two to five years, and some states require RNs to complete continuing education (CE) programs to renew their licenses.

These requirements typically include a minimum number of hours spent working on relevant coursework or completing educational nursing activities.

States often require postpartum nurses to complete their CEs in multiple areas, such as nursing practice and pharmacology.

You can also continue your education independently as a postpartum nurse by attending seminars and conferences, taking optional courses online, and reading about topics in the field.

This can help you develop your knowledge and skills throughout your career. It may be especially helpful if you plan to pursue an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

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Postpartum nurse salary and job outlook

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the employment of RNs between now and 2031 to increase by 6%, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

While some RN specializations have higher wages than others, many nurses who work in different practice areas but have comparable education and experience have similar annual salaries.

The national average salary for all RNs is $93,181 per year, but the highest-paying cities are:

  • New York, New York: $140,996 per year
  • San Antonio, Texas: $118,130 per year
  • Los Angeles, California: $109,530 per year
  • Chicago, Illinois: $97,768 per year
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: $91,965 per year

Certain states also have higher salaries for RNs than others. Considerations like the state’s economy, demographics, cost of living, and demand for nurses can affect how much postpartum nurses earn. According to the BLS, these are the states with the highest average salaries for RNs:

  • California: $96,470 per year
  • Hawaii: $90,220 per year
  • Alaska: $85,530 per year
  • Oregon: $83,650 per year
  • Massachusetts: $81,380 per year


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