Prenatal Nurse: Salary, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a prenatal nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Perinatal nurses and nurse midwives provide patient care during the prenatal period, including labor, and during the postpartum period following childbirth. Prenatal nurses may order tests, monitor the fetus' development and talk to the parents about childbirth options. Licensed registered nurses who want to enter either of these occupations must earn a master's degree or complete a post-graduate certificate program if they already hold a master's in another field of nursing.

Required Education Master's degree or post-graduate certificate in nurse midwifery, perinatal nursing or another relevant field
Other Requirements Valid nursing license; professional certification required for nurse midwives in many states
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 29% for nurse midwives; 19% for all registered nurses
Median Salary (2013)* $92,290 for nurse midwives; $66,220 for all registered nurses

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Duties of Perinatal Nurses and Nurse Midwives

Both perinatal nurses and nurse midwives care for pregnant women during the prenatal period (before birth), during delivery and after delivery for up to the first few weeks of the baby's life. Prenatal duties in particular include ordering tests and interpreting lab results, performing physical examinations, monitoring fetal development and instructing prospective parents in various childbirth techniques. They often provide support and comfort during the birthing process. Postpartum care can include instruction in mother-child bonding and supplying appropriate care to the newborn. While these two types of nurses have similar duties, perinatal nurses are more apt to assist obstetricians with high-risk pregnancies while nurse midwives tend to assist with routine pregnancies and will contact the obstetrician if complications arise.

Education Requirements for Perinatal Nurses and Nurse Midwives

Nurses aspiring to specialize in perinatal nursing or as a nurse midwife must have a post baccalaureate degree. Master's degree programs in either field are available, as are advanced certificate programs for nurses with a master's in another area of nursing. In order to earn a Master of Science in Nursing in one of these specialties, one must hold, at minimum, a bachelor's degree in nursing and be a licensed registered nurse.

Certification as a nurse midwife is available for advance practice nurses who want to work in this particular field. In order to be certified, applicants must pass a written exam provided by The American College of Nurse Midwives.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse midwives earned an annual median wage of $92,290 in 2013. While the BLS offers no specific salary information for perinatal or prenatal nurses in particular, it does report that registered nurses earned an annual median salary of $66,220 in 2013. Annual income can vary depending on experience, certification and work setting.

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