Becoming a Labor and Delivery Nurse

Becoming a Labor and Delivery Nurse

Angela Vallillo, MPH, BSN, RN, C-EFM, C-ONQS Angela Vallillo, MPH, BSN, RN, C-EFM, C-ONQS
4 minute read

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a labor and delivery nurse? I have been a labor and delivery nurse for two years, and I love sharing my daily life on the unit and my path to this often-misunderstood specialty!

The Emergency Department, but for Babies

Labor and delivery is a unique specialty of nursing, as it is similar to an emergency department, but for obstetric issues. We never know if there is a 28-week patient coming in labor, or a term patient in hypertensive crisis. We must be able to rapidly set up for surgery in an emergency. (We once had a patient come in and had them on the OR table in 10 minutes flat!) That also means we wear hospital-issued scrubs. But, I make sure to keep a Diana Jacket on hand for down time, however rare that may be!

L&D is a high-stress, fast-paced job. Teamwork is essential and I rely on my team so heavily to ensure great patient outcomes and experience.

On a regular day, I have two patients: the birthing person and their baby. This may seem easy, but I am almost constantly at the bedside. I educate patients on their labor progress and what to expect, tend to their needs, constantly assess the fetal heart tracing and contractions, and titrate medication. Multi-tasking is the name of my game!

Most shifts include the best part of my job: I assist in delivering a baby. I coach the patient on how to cope with the pain, how to push, and to continuously assess the patient after delivery. I also advocate for the patient’s desires and needs. I monitor bleeding, vital signs, and how the patient is bonding with the baby. It is so rewarding to help a patient feel empowered throughout this process.

The Path to Labor and Delivery Nursing (aka: How did I get here?) 

I took an alternative path to nursing as it was a second degree for me. My first degree was in biology. I originally wanted to go to medical school but decided that nursing fit more with my goals and lifestyle. I am so glad that I took this path! I volunteered in the neonatal intensive care unit at my local hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital in Connecticut, throughout high school, and became a technician on the labor and delivery floor after college. This is where I fell in love with the specialty!

Many will recommend that you get some experience in med-surg first, but I did not take that route. I highly encourage anyone who is interested to jump right into labor and delivery. I highly recommend joining the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) to learn more about the specialty and to network with others. In addition, I find it helpful to get certified in fetal monitoring and neonatal resuscitation while looking for a position. This makes you stand out!

Any Questions? I’m an open book!

I am always open to questions about my career and path and love to advise others as a nurse mentor. Feel free to reach out to me via email at I’d love to help you decide if L&D nursing is the right fit for you.

Diana Jacket

Diana Jacket


The Diana Jacket is the PERFECT lightweight layer that gets you to work on a chilly morning and adds just-what-you-need warmth at 2am. Smooth and clean front lines with Princess Seams curve with you in all the right places to… read more

About the Author, Angela Vallillo, MPH, BSN, RN, C-EFM, C-ONQS

Angela is a travel labor and delivery RN. She is also in midwifery school at Frontier Nursing University and a clinical specialist for MindChild Medical, Inc., the creator of a non-invasive fetal ECG device. She holds certifications in electronic fetal monitoring and obstetric and neonatal quality and safety. 

What does Moxie mean to me? “Moxie means having a fighting spirit, and that means fiercely advocating for my patients.”

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