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Guidelines for Professional Registered Nurse Staffing

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Promote quality care by planning nurse staffing for your perinatal unit based on Guidelines for Professional Registered Nurse Staffing for Perinatal Units from the leading authority in perinatal nursing: AWHONN.

Whether you manage perinatal services in a busy, urban institution or a small, rural facility, you must be versed in the national standards for perinatal nurse staffing so that your nurses can effectively meet the needs of new families.

AWHONN's updated guidelines reflect the many changes in perinatal settings since 1983, including the increased number of women and infants who have complications and/or are undergoing medical and surgical procedures, plus new technologies and documentation requirements, all of which increase the nurse's workload.

The guidelines give you the framework you need to implement registered nurse staffing that results in quality care and more time at the bedside. Use this resource to plan nurse staffing on perinatal units, including antepartum, labor and delivery, postpartum and nursery.

Key features of the AWHONN Staffing Guidelines:
  • 13 new classifications of antepartum, intrapartum and postpartum patients with accompanying recommendations for perinatal nurse staffing.
  • 6 recommendations updated from existing guidelines which call for decreasing the number of patients a nurse cares for in each instance.
  • New guidance for contingency planning and minimum staffing of low-volume perinatal care units.
  • Practice standards from professional organizations relevant to specific areas of perinatal patient care are cited as support for each recommendation in the guidelines. For example, AWHONN's post-anesthesia recovery recommendations are accompanied by the relevant practice standards from the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses.

AWHONN's Guidelines for Professional Registered Nurse Staffing for Perinatal Units were developed by the AWHONN Staffing Task Force, approved by the AWHONN Board of Directors and incorporate input from more than 900 AWHONN perinatal nurse members.

Frequently Asked Questions - View

Visit the Perinatal Staffing Guidelines page for other information and products.


Bring staffing on your perinatal unit up-to-date by downloading your copy of AWHONN's Guidelines for Professional Registered Nurse Staffing for Perinatal Units today.

MEMBERS - Log-in to download your FREE copy.* Once you log-in, you can get your free copy under "Member Only Downloads."

NON-MEMBERS - You can purchase the guidelines in PDF format (downloadable) for $49.95.

Samples of the Guidelines

Sample 1    Sample 2


The following organizations have endorsed the Guidelines for Professional Registered Nurse Staffing for Perinatal Units.

American Academy of Pediatrics
National Association of Neonatal Nurses
American College of Nurse Midwives
American Nurses Association
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
United States Lactation Consultant Association
March of Dimes
Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN)
CNE Information