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14 Ways to Be a Great Support Person During Labor

We get a lot of questions—from both birthing people and their partners—about how partners can feel more involved in the birth room. How can they know what will be helpful—without having to ask the birthing person, “What can I do to help?” Or, even worse, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

 

Giving birth is such an all-encompassing task… there are very few things in this world that require one to to dig as deeply into their inner—and outer—resources. So, let’s make sure the partners in the room, have some good ideas about how to be a true resource.

 

doula and midwife support laboring mom while pushing

1) Arm Yourself With Knowledge. Get a working understanding of the basics of birth. It is a complex process, but there are hallmarks you can learn that will give you some guidelines about what is happening for your partner. And there is a HUGE return on investment here:  Your partner will feel so cared for and seen if you show up with some idea about how things are for her.

 

Here are some of our favorite resources to get you started! (All clickable links!)


 

 



 

Make sure you make yourself available, even enthusiastic, about attending prenatal appointments, birth classes, baby care classes, reading things you are asked to read, and on. This will not only increase your knowledge, but your birthing person will feel more cared for, and you will feel more involved too.

 

2) Be Silent (or at least quiet) and Attentive During Contractions. As birth progresses, contractions become more all-consuming, and even overwhelming. Having someone trying to talk to you or asking you to do something is distracting and disturbs the process. It is definitely never appreciated when people are having a conversation when one is managing a contraction. Focusing on your birthing person, and encouraging others in the room to do the same, will be very appreciated. It will also help you tune into what is happening on a deeper level.

 

3) Have Tools Available to Help Your Partner Manage. Music, heat, massage, hand tools, cold, showers, baths, essential oils, and birth balls can all help your birthing person cope as things get harder. Our favorite thing is anything that feels loving and connected, like seating your person on a birth ball and facing her on a stool or chair so they can look in your eyes and you can let her know how much you appreciate her hard work.

 

4) Make Sure Your Phone is Not a Distraction. 'Nuff said.

 

5) Answer Questions From Care Providers So Your Partner Doesn’t Have To. If you do need your partner’s input, wait until they are not in the middle of a contraction, and then ask them if they are able to answer a question. But try to know the answers to all questions that are likely to be asked: Date of birth; when she last ate; when she last peed; any allergies, etc.

 

6) Stay Calm and As Rational As You Can. Your partner needs you to stay as calm as you can, so they don’t worry about you on top of everything else. Not to say you can’t have your emotions, but do your best not to make your partner feel concerned about you, or responsible for your well-being. A doula is a great asset, as we support the birthing person but also you, and serve as a calming presence for both of you.

 

7) Help Your Birthing Person Make Any Necessary Decisions. There will come moments where decisions need to be made, and sometimes they are complicated. Asking care providers questions is always wise so you and your partner can make the best decision.

 

8) The Little Things Really Matter. Notice when your person’s lips are dry— even better, have her chapstick in your pocket and help her put it on. Notice when she needs a sip of water and offer her some with a straw so it can’t spill. Keep her hair out of her face. A hairtie on your wrist or in your pocket is a good idea.

 

9) Be in Awe of Her Power.


Your birthing person is being pushed past the point that would break most people. Let her know that you are truly amazed by how strong and dedicated she is.

 

10) Know the Signs of Transition and Be Prepared to Help Her Through It. Transition is really intense. But it is usually short. Most birthing people shake uncontrollably, vomit, have an irresistible urge to run away, and say things like: “I can’t do this!” and “I need an epidural right now!” Once transition is over, most people feel calmer and more focused and usually begin to feel excited about pushing their baby out.

 

11) Stay Present and Loving if Plans Have to Change. Sometimes birth doesn’t go as we have planned. When there needs to be a change to the plans, your birthing person needs to know that you still love them and believe in them—no matter what.

 

12) Make Sure She Knows She Is Not Alone. If you need to leave to go to the bathroom or something, be sure to tell your birthing person where you’re going and go right back. Better yet, hire a doula to be with her when you need to slip out for a minute.

 

13) Remind Her Why She is Doing All of This. When the time seems right, remind her with loving words exactly why she is going through this wild process. There is a sweet reward at the end.

 

14) Hire a Doula! According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula. Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized.” The payoff is huge with this one. We've never met a client that had regrets about hiring a doula.

 

In addition to these 14 ways you can be a great labor support person, BWS Doula Agency is here for you. Our trained and experienced doulas are here to support you so you can support your birthing person even better. Set up a consult today by choosing a time that works best for you at the calendar linked here.

 


laboring mom and doula catch a rest in between contractions

“April made sure my partner knew what I needed—that was huge to me. I wanted Luis to give me what I needed and he couldn’t have done that without April there coaching him. She helped Luis be a much bigger help to me than my last birth.”

-     Sarah R.

 

Screenshot our one-page Birth Partner Notes to keep in your pocket throughout the birthing process. Available here:


downloadable birth partner handout

We may earn a small commission off of linked items. Also, please don't plagiarize. Just don't.

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