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An OB nurse, or obstetric nurse, specializes in the care of pregnant women and newborn infants. Also called OB-GYN (obstetric-gynecologic) nurses, they are most often responsible for keeping the maternity ward of hospitals running smoothly.
An OB nurse is responsible for several things. The most important of these is care of the mother during labor, childbirth, and recovery. A nurse working in OB nursing will also care for the new infant. An OB nurse takes the time to educate and explain medical procedures, care, and possible health concerns to a new mother. He or she assists in childbirth, keeping the delivery room clean, organized, and stocked with what the doctor needs. This also involves helping to position a woman for childbirth, and doing their best to keep her comfortable. An OB nurse does all of the routine care, allowing doctors to concentrate on the birth itself.
OB nurses also keep track of the family members and partners that are present both during and after the birth. This might mean everything from helping family members find the right room to keeping out extra guests when there is a hospital policy about the number of people allowed at a birth. An OB nurse also may coach new mothers on breastfeeding and other new infant care.
There is a lot of schooling required before starting a career in OB nursing. It is necessary to become a registered nurse (RN) first, and an advanced nursing degree is required. A Bachelor's of Science nursing degree is required, as well as lots of experience in general nursing. Some hospitals will not hire a new nurse for OB-GYN work without any experience in OB nursing, especially not for labor and delivery floors.
OB nursing is both a very challenging and very rewarding career. Birth is a momentous part of life, and is usually a cause for celebration, with delivering and working with new babies being exciting work. On the other hand, the work can be heartbreaking. Babies born with health problems, or the rare death of either the mother or child, can be devastating for the nurses working with them. OB nursing is not for the weak of heart or stomach, as all types of bodily fluids are common in the delivery and recovery rooms.
There is a lot to consider when thinking about a career in OB nursing. The work is stressful and can be emotionally draining. There can be very difficult days, or nights, that can make you doubt your decision to become an OB nurse. However, OB nursing can be a great career for those who are dedicated to the job. The rewards seen by an OB nurse can more than make up for the challenges of the job.