How to Become an OB Nurse (Plus Skills and Responsibilities)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Healthcare organizations are always in need of nurses, and, with the aging population, the demand for nurses may continue to grow. Obstetrics (OB) nurses provide care for pregnant women and their families. Learning about this profession can help you decide if it's the right path for you. In this article, we discuss how to become an OB nurse, describe what they are and what they do, provide their job duties and where they work, and highlight some skills to help you succeed in this role.

How to become an OB nurse

Here's how to become an OB nurse:

1. Get your high school diploma

The first step is to get your high school diploma or its equivalent. It helps to have a strong foundation in anatomy, physiology, and other basic sciences to be successful in this career. If you want to get some experience working with patients, you can volunteer at a hospital or clinic. This can give you an idea of what it's like to be a nurse and help you decide if this is the right path for you.

2. Earn your nursing degree

After completing high school, you can get your nursing degree from an accredited college or university. There are many nursing programs to choose from. You can either get a Bachelor of Science in nursing or an associate's degree in nursing. Depending on the program, a degree can take between two to four years to complete. During your schooling, you can take classes in anatomy, physiology, and obstetrics. It helps to have a degree from an accredited program, as this can make you eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

3. Get a licence and certification

After graduating from nursing school, you can complete the NCLEX-RN exam to get your nursing licence. Once you have your licence, you can then get certified as an OB nurse through the National Certification Corporation (NCC). To be eligible for certification, the NCC requires at least two years of work experience as a registered nurse in obstetrics.

Related: 16 of the Best Positions in Nursing (With Duties and Salary)

4. Gain experience

After getting your licence and certification, you can start working as a nurse. Many hospitals have OB units, where you can work alongside other nurses and doctors. You can also work in private practices or clinics. With experience, you may eventually become a charge nurse or nurse manager. Some of these nurses may choose to teach childbirth classes or provide home healthcare.

Related: How to Become a Labour and Delivery Nurse (With FAQs)

5. Continue your education

The field of obstetrics is continuously changing, and new research can help improve patient care. By taking continuing education courses and keeping up with the latest developments, you can provide the best care possible for your patients. You can do this by taking continuing education courses or attending conferences. You may also want to pursue a specialty, such as high-risk obstetrics or neonatal care.

What is an OB nurse?

An OB nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in care for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. They work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices. They may also provide home healthcare or teach childbirth classes. These nurses are an important part of the healthcare team because they provide support and education to mothers and families. They play an important role in delivering babies, ensuring that both mother and child are healthy and safe.

Related: What Does an Obstetrician Nurse Do? (With Primary Duties)

What are the responsibilities of an OB nurse?

The responsibilities of an OB nurse can vary depending on their workplace. The following are some of their duties:

Provide care to pregnant women

Nurses in this field provide care to women during all stages of pregnancy. They may monitor the mother's vital signs, help with prenatal care, and provide support during labour and delivery. They also advise the mother on what to expect during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.

Assist with surgeries

Some OB nurses work in operating rooms where they assist with surgeries, such as caesarean births. They may also help with other surgeries, including hysterectomies and tubal ligations. In addition, these nurses provide postoperative care to the mother and baby.

Counsel patients and families

An important part of an OB nurse's job is to educate patients and families on various topics. They may offer counselling on contraception, fertility, and sexually transmitted infections. They may also provide support during high-stress scenarios, such as after a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Coordinate with other healthcare providers

OB nurses often work with a team of healthcare providers, such as doctors, midwives, and lactation consultants. They coordinate care between all team members to ensure that the mother and baby receive the best possible care. These nurses may also provide support to other team members, such as answering questions or providing emotional support.

Provide care to newborns

After a baby is born, an OB nurse helps with the delivery and care of the newborn by cleaning and weighing the baby, checking for any congenital disabilities, and providing bonding time between the mother and child. They may provide support to the mother and family during this time and educate the parents on newborn care, such as feeding and diapering.

Related: Different Types of Nurses (With Duties and Salaries)

What are the divisions of OB nursing?

The field of obstetrics involves two main areas, obstetric and gynecology nursing.

Obstetric nursing

In obstetric nursing, the focus is on caring for the mother during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. OB nurses provide care to women of all ages who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. These nurses offer services such as prenatal care, labour and delivery support, and postpartum care. They may also provide education and counselling on childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care.

Gynecology nursing

Gynecology nursing focuses on the care of the female reproductive system. This includes providing care for women of all ages who have gynecological problems or concerns. Gynecology nurses offer well-woman examinations, family planning counselling, and menopause management services. They may also provide education on nutrition, sexual health, and cancer prevention.

Where do OB nurses work?

OB nurses can work in various settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and private practices. They may also work in the following settings:

  • Labour and delivery units

  • Operating rooms

  • Postpartum units

  • Antenatal clinics

  • Well-woman clinics

  • Family planning clinics

  • Cancer screening clinics

Important skills for an OB nurse

Successful OB nurses typically possess the following skills:

Communication skills

Communication is an important part of a nurse's job. They communicate effectively with patients, families, and members of the healthcare team, so it's important that they have excellent communication skills. They can explain medical procedures and terminology in a way that is easy to understand.

Knowledge of basic medical procedures

OB nurses typically perform basic medical procedures, which include taking vital signs, administering injections, and drawing blood. Proficiency in these skills is important to providing quality patient care. These nurses also know how to use medical equipment, such as fetal monitors and IV pumps.

Organizational skills

An OB nurse's job requires excellent organizational skills because they keep track of many patients and their medical needs. They coordinate care between the various members of the healthcare team. Plus, they often work long hours, so good time management skills are important.

Technical skills

OB nurses use many technologies in their jobs. For example, they typically use computers, medical equipment, and software programs. Proficiency in these technical skills can help them provide quality patient care. Nurses may also learn how to use new technologies so they can stay up to date with the latest advances in healthcare.

Dexterity

OB nurses perform tasks that involve a great deal of dexterity, such as inserting catheters and IVs. It helps if they have nimble fingers and good hand–eye coordination. It's also important that they maintain their composure in high-pressure situations.

Problem-solving skills

Nurses may use their problem-solving skills to deal with complex situations and create solutions to challenges they may face. They may deal with unexpected situations, such as a patient going into labour before they deliver their baby. They think quickly and make decisions that are in the best interests of the patient.

Compassion

They have compassion for their patients because they are going through a very stressful and emotional time. The nurses provide physical and emotional support to the patients and their families. They also offer counselling on sensitive topics, such as fertility and sexually transmitted infections.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles