Maternal-child nursing refers to a framework of health care provided for child-bearing women and their families. Maternal-child nursing strives to approach the birth process as a natural life event rather than a medical procedure. This field of nursing includes both prenatal care to pregnant women and health care to mothers and their newborn infants. This health care also extends to the entire family.
A maternal-child nurse is often cross trained. They must retain skills and knowledge that allow them to assist the patient during the entire hospital stay. The maternal-child nurse serves in roles related to labor, delivery, recovery, operational, postpartum and management of high-risk pregnancies. Specific roles they may perform include fetal monitoring, assisting in cesarean delivery and identifying postpartum complications.
The maternal-child nurse also often needs technical skills in order to effectively understand advanced equipment and procedures. This also involves continuing education in order to stay up-to-date on the latest innovations and new practices in the field. In addition, basic nursing skills are a necessity. These include pain management, patient and family education, assessment, diagnosis and communication. Some areas of expertise in maternal-child nursing include treating a pregnant teenager, a critically ill child, or another group within the community.
Maternal-child nursing often involves caring for a mother and baby simultaneously. Rather than the newborn infant being in a nursery away from the mother and under the care of a different nurse, both mother and child are cared for by the maternal-child nurse. This family-centered model of maternity health care encourages family cohesion and bonding and facilitates education. The family-centered care model also encompasses care before and after the delivery. This involves duties such as prenatal stress-testing and checking on new mothers and infants after discharge.