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
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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


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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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