A registered nurse (RN) with a bachelor's degree in nursing and certificate in nurse midwifery or prenatal nursing, or with a master's degree, may specialize as a prenatal nurse. Prenatal nurses provide care to patients during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and following childbirth.
Prenatal nurses and nurse midwives provide care to pregnant women during pregnancy and labor and the postpartum period. Prenatal nurses may order tests, monitor the fetus' development and talk to the parents about childbirth options. Licensed registered nurses who want to become prenatal nurses or a nurse midwives must earn a master's degree or complete a post-graduate certificate program if they possess 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 (2014-2024)*||31% for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners; 16% for all registered nurses|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$92,510 for nurse midwives; $67,490 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.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse midwives earned a median annual salary of $92,510 in 2015. While the BLS offers no specific salary information for perinatal or prenatal nurses, it does report that registered nurses earned an annual median salary of $67,490 in 2015. Annual income can vary depending on experience, certification and work setting. Job growth expected for all registered nurses from 2014-2024 is much faster than average compared to all occupations.
Registered nurse can specialize in prenatal nursing with either a bachelor's degree in nursing and a certificate in nurse midwifery or prenatal nursing, or a master's degree. These professionals provide care to women during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and in the postpartum period. The job outlook for these professionals is quite positive.