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There are many different types of careers to choose from in labor and delivery that deal with the care of pregnant mothers and newborn babies. Some careers require going to medical school and completing lengthy residency and fellowship programs, while others only require four years of nursing school.
Obstetrics nurses work in the labor and delivery wings of hospitals, and specialize in assisting obstetricians with delivering babies. Some of the responsibilities of an obstetrics nurse include preparing delivery rooms, sterilizing instruments, and caring for newborn babies immediately after their delivery. Once a baby is delivered, an obstetrics nurse will check its vital signs to make sure it’s healthy. After that, the nurse cleans the baby and wraps it in a warm blanket. An obstetrics nurses must be either a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse. Licensed practical nurse programs typically take one to two years to complete, while registered nurse programs generally require getting a two-year associate degree or a four-years bachelor's degree. Becoming a registered nurse instead of a licensed practical nurse provides more room for career advancement. The median salary for obstetrics nurses as of May of 2011 was $63,300, according to Salary.com.
Obstetrician and Gynecologist
Obstetricians are medical doctors who specialize in taking care of pregnant women until their babies are born. They often are also trained as gynecologists, doctors who specialize in female reproductive health. Obstetricians and gynecologists must complete four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school, and a four-year training program specifically in their specialty. Obstetricians commonly perform surgical C-sections when dealing with high-risk pregnancies, and they make dietary and lifestyle recommendations to patients to help ensure a healthy pregnancy. The median salary for obstetricians and gynecologists as of May of 2011 was $250,657, according to Salary.com.
Neonatologists are medical doctors who specialize in the care of sick newborn babies, often as a result of premature birth. Neonatologists work closely with obstetricians and obstetrics nurses in the delivery room during premature births and high-risk pregnancies. Sometimes newborn premature babies need to be hooked up to breathing machines immediately after birth, and can even need CPR from a neonatologist in the delivery room. After a premature baby is born, it gets transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit, where it stays until it’s nursed to full health and ready to go home. The median salary for neonatologists as of May of 2008 was $220,402, according to Salary.com. Neonatologists must complete four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school, a three-year pediatric residency, and a three-year neonatology fellowship.
Neonatal nurses assist neonatologists with the care of sick newborn babies during the first 28 days of a baby’s life. Neonatal nurses are responsible for monitoring vital signs of newborn babies, checking for signs of distress, and giving newborns medication when needed. The majority of neonatal nurses are nurse practitioners, which requires approximately six years of school. The median salary for neonatal nurses as of May of 2011 was $100,313, according to Salary.com.