5 Ways to Get Ahead in Your Postpartum Nursing Career

postpartum nursingBy Erin Wallace, Contributor

Postpartum nurses play an important role in educating and helping new mothers acclimate to their new responsibilities and lifestyle. They provide important physical, emotional and restorative care for both the mother and newborn following delivery.

Many postpartum nurses wonder how it's possible to advance their careers to open up more job opportunities or earn a higher salary. Discover some simple ways postpartum nurses can get ahead in their careers.

5 tips for getting ahead in your postpartum nursing career

1. Earn specialized certification

Nursing certification demonstrates your commitment to your nursing career and can open up additional job opportunities. For postpartum nurses, the RNC-MNN (Registered Nurse Certified in Maternal Newborn Nursing) certification is a great place to start. This test is administered by the National Certification Corporation.

Another option is the certified-nurse midwife and certified midwife credentials administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Earning this certification can open up a host of other job opportunities in the field.

2. Communicate career goals to the nurse manager or leadership team

Catherine Burger, BSN, MSOL, RN, NEA-BC from RegisteredNursing.org, says one of the best ways for postpartum nurses to get ahead in their careers is to let their nurse manager or leadership team know about their ultimate career goals. “Managers cannot read minds, so nurses need to ask for what they want. Ask for a mentor, ask for more responsibilities and ask what the leader needs to see in you to reach your goals.”

3. Become a clinical nurse specialist

Another way for postpartum nurses to advance their career is to become a clinical nurse specialist. A CNS has advanced education and training in a specialized area of nursing, and the specialty may be defined in several ways:

  • according to patient population (pediatrics, geriatrics, maternity)
  • healthcare setting (ICU, ER, clinic)
  • disease or medical sub-specialty (such as oncology or diabetes)
  • type of care
  • medical problem (pain, wounds, stress, difficulty breastfeeding)

For instance, Andrea Tran, RN, IBCLC and owner of the blog Breastfeeding Confidential, became a lactation consultant. She's been working as one for 24 years and with new families for over 35 years.

She explains that by becoming a lactation consultant, she was able to specialize in a specific area of postpartum nursing and enjoy a number of other benefits, including:


  • Becoming “the coordinator for the lactation department at my hospital which allowed me to [earn] a [higher] hourly wage”
  • Working more favorable hours
  • Spending more time with her patients


4. Find a mentor

A great way to get ahead in your postpartum nursing career is to learn from someone who's been through it. Experienced postpartum nurse mentors have been in your shoes before and can offer career advice or just lend an ear in a moment of crisis. Many hospitals may have in-house mentoring programs — just ask around at your workplace to see if one exists.

Nursing mentors are often most valuable for new nurses to help them with the transition to a clinical setting. Nurses who are mentored can feel better prepared for their new profession as they learn how to receive feedback and grow professionally based on the guidance of an experienced nurse.

5. Network among other nurses

Networking can be extremely valuable in all areas of nursing, including postpartum. Nurses can get involved in their profession, become engaged and have the opportunity to meet like-minded people who have similar struggles and ambitions. It also lets nurses gain insight into how the field is changing.

How to get started? Start local and join your state's nursing organization. Many other groups are dedicated to specific nursing specialties, including postpartum nursing, such as the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, which can help with career advancement.

When you take some or all of these steps, you can help advance your postpartum nursing career to the next level and grow professionally within the field.


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