Maternal Health Nurse Courses – Education and Career Pathways


Maternal health nursing is a rewarding specialization focusing on the care of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. There are several pathways to becoming a maternal health nurse, with courses and certifications that provide the required knowledge and skills. This article will explore the typical education requirements, top courses, and career prospects in maternal health nursing.

Education Requirements

The minimum requirement to work as a maternal health nurse is an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (ADN or BSN). However, nurses who acquire specialized training and certifications qualify for advanced roles with greater responsibility and compensation. The main certifications include lactation consulting (IBCLC) and inpatient obstetric nursing (RNC-OB).

Key Undergraduate Courses

Undergraduate nursing degrees offer the foundation needed before specializing. Typical courses include:

  • Anatomy & Physiology – covers reproductive organs and pregnancy changes
  • Embryology – how the fetus develops during pregnancy
  • Nutrition – maternal & fetal needs, lactation support
  • OB Nursing Care – pregnancy, medications, birth process
  • Women’s Health Issues – reproductive health, contraception

Post-Graduate Certifications

After gaining nursing experience in labor and delivery or postpartum units, nurses can complete the following recognized certifications:

Inpatient Obstetric Nurse (RNC-OB) This intense certification from the National Certification Corporation (NCC) demonstrates specialized expertise in providing care during labor, birth and recovery. The exam tests knowledge on topics like high-risk deliveries, pain management, emergency skills and fetal assessment.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)

For nurses who wish to provide breastfeeding support, the IBCLC is essential. You must first acquire lactation-specific clinical hours before sitting the IBLCE exam covering areas like anatomy, physiology, counseling skills, ethics and public health.

Career Advancement and Prospects

With additional training and certifications, maternal health nurses open up career opportunities including:

  • Nurse Manager of Birth Units
  • Independent Lactation Consultant
  • Clinical Educator positions to train staff
  • Clinical Researcher roles

Government data predicts a rise in nursing jobs of 7% from 2022-2032 due to factors like population growth and higher healthcare demand. There is strong projected demand for all nursing specializations, including maternal health.


Pursing education in maternal nursing enables you to utilize your passion for women’s health to directly improve outcomes for mothers and babies. Entry-level maternal nurse courses build core competencies while targeted certifications prepare nurses for advanced maternal health roles with higher levels of responsibility, autonomy and reward. It is a meaningful and versatile specialization with excellent job growth expectations.

Leave a comment