Nurses Who Work with Babies: A Closer Look at Your Options
By Kirsten Slyter on 09/06/2021
Whether you’re already a parent or you’re just the type who can’t help but fawn over the babies you pass at the supermarket, you’ve probably known for a while now that working with little ones is your preferred calling.
Outside of a career in early childhood education, becoming a nurse is one of the most viable paths to working with babies and young children. That’s great news for anyone who wants pair their passion for working with kids with a rock-solid healthcare career path.
But what type of nursing path should you pursue? There are a variety of different types of nurses who work with babies and, from an outsider’s perspective, the differences between them can seem a little fuzzy. We’re here to help you develop a better understanding of the potential paths.
4 Jobs for aspiring nurses who want to work with babies
If you have a passion for working in the medical field with the hopes of helping infants thrive, you’ve come to the right place. We compiled the details of four common nursing careers with the hope that this guide will help you choose the right path for you.
1. Labor and delivery nurses
Job description:Labor and delivery nurses help welcome new babies into the world. They care for women during labor and childbirth and monitor the infant and mother during the process. They also help coach mothers and assist doctors throughout the stages of giving birth by administering medicine, aiding in inducing labor and timing contractions.
These types of nurses can be found working in hospitals and physician’s offices, as well as in community clinics.
Important skills and characteristics: Just like any other nurse, it’s important for a labor and delivery nurse to be detailed, thorough and organized. These types of nurses must be quick on their feet, stay calm during high-stress situations and tout an extra dose of empathy. Since giving birth can be an extremely emotional experience, it’s important that labor and delivery nurses can soothe and calm while staying firm when the going gets rough.
Education and training: Labor and delivery nurses, like all registered nurses, must graduate with either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate’s degree in Nursing (ADN) and satisfy all requirements for state licensure.
While it’s possible to find a position as a labor and delivery nurse right out of college, employers may prefer candidates with nursing experience. Additionally, pursuing a nursing certification like the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB®) certification through the National Certification Corporation is another way to show employers your interest in this role.
2. Neonatal nurses
Job description: Neonatal nurses are typically the next specialized group to enter the picture of infant care after labor and delivery nurses. This type of nurse specializes in the care of newborn infants. Within this area of nursing are several subspecialties. They may care for perfectly healthy infants, provide more focused care for premature or ill babies, or work specifically with one seriously ill infant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Some babies have respiratory problems or serious nutritional needs that can be life threatening, and a neonatal nurse can care for these types of infants around the clock.
These types of nurses often work in high dependency and special care infant units in hospitals while other nurses work in the community with families whose babies have recently been discharged from the hospital.
Important skills and characteristics: Since neonatal nurses work with high-risk patients, it’s important that they’re able to think of their feet and make quick decisions if they notice a sudden change. This role also requires frequently working with specialized equipment such as neonatal ventilators and incubators. As with all nursing roles, it’s important they stay calm during an emergency, have an excellent eye for detail and have the ability to communicate compassionately.
Education and training: After completing the required steps to becoming a registered nurse, would-be neonatal nurses can give their resume a boost by first accumulating a year or two of nursing experience. Additionally, it may benefit neonatal nurses to pursue the CCRN® (Neonatal) credential from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) or the RNC Certification for Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-NIC®).
3. Pediatric nurses
Job description: Once babies are discharged and begin living and developing at home, pediatric nurses provide care for them as they grow into adolescents. They provide routine primary care services, such as health maintenance and exams, developmental screenings, and vaccinations. They also treat illness or injuries when they occur in children.
Important skills and characteristics: As with all jobs for which working with children is the primary duty, it’s important to be able to roll with the punches, improvise and keep kids calm. Aside from all the organizational and relational skills required of RNs, a special emphasis on communicating with children, and helping them feel safe and cared for is always a plus.
4. Antepartum and postpartum nurses
Job description: While this job is more baby-adjacent than the ones we’ve covered so far, antepartum and postpartum nurses care for mothers during pregnancy and directly after.
Antepartum nurses most commonly work on hospital units for pregnant patients who are having complications with their pregnancy, like preeclampsia, hyperemesis gravidarum or gestational diabetes. Antepartum nurses continuously evaluate their patients, their vital signs, fetus health and any status changes for either the mother or the child. They give medications, prepare patients for procedures or imaging, and work with healthcare providers to create care plans and carry them out.
Postpartum nurses, on the other hand, care for patients in the days following delivery, whether by C-section or a vaginal birth. These are often emotional and challenging days for the parents and the child. Not only do postpartum nurses monitor the vital signs and status of the parents and child as well as create and carry out care plans, they also teach new parents important skills, like how to change diapers and how to feed the baby.
Important skills and characteristics: Pregnancy and postpartum care can be fraught with emotions, especially if the patient is having serious medical issues. The very best antepartum and postpartum nurses are compassionate, patient and understanding. They should be able to comfort patients having emotional distress as well as have the coping mechanisms to help themselves deal with the stress too.
Education and training: First, you’ll need to become an RN. While there’s no specific antepartum or postpartum certifications at this time, it can help to shadow a nurse in antepartum or postpartum care or take additional continuing education coursework in subjects related to OB/GYN or labor and delivery.
How will you make your impact?
You now have a basic understanding of some of the common types of nurses who work with babies. After familiarizing yourself with each, do you have a better idea of where you’d like to focus your nursing career?
If you’re looking for more information on the specifics of these nursing career paths, consider learning more about how to become a labor and delivery nurse, researching what it’s like being a neonatal nurse, or reading up on the ins and outs of pediatric nursing. While these specialized roles have their differences in their day-to-day duties, they do have one thing in common beyond working with babies: the need for becoming a registered nurse. Learn more about your options for becoming a registered nurse by visiting the Rasmussen University Professional Nursing degree page.
RNC-OB and RNC-NIC are registered trademarks of the National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties.
Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) is a registered trademark of Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, Inc.
CCRN is a registered trademark of the AACN Certification Board, Inc.