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50 Ways to Support Your Partner in Birth

By Kate Rose

The big moment is here! Your new baby is on the way! You’re thrilled, but your partner is focused on the gripping sensations of labor.

Maybe she is irritable or seemingly difficult to please; maybe you are having trouble thinking of ways to comfort and support her. Perhaps you are just interested in finding a way to participate in this life-changing event.

No need to sit there befuddled, worried about what to do with your hands! I have typed up this handy cheat sheet full of tips, all about how to provide support during labor as she brings new life into the world.

How to support your partner during early labor

  • Help her get ready for labor
  • Encourage her; say that she’s strong and ready
  • Make her tea (red raspberry leaf is a bonus) or broth to drink
  • Make her something to eat
  • Distract her with games, TV/movies, or take her to get a foot massage
  • Suggest a shower or bath
  • Suggest a nap
  • Remind her to relax and save her energy for later
  • CALL THE DOULA—Keep her informed!

Is she feeling overwhelmed?

  • Reassure her and praise her
  • Give her an object or picture to look at during contractions
  • Remind her of the reason she’s here (baby)
  • Suggest a walk or position change
  • Ask extra people to leave
  • Place your hands on her face and breathe with her
  • Remind her that her contractions (or surges) cannot be stronger than her because they ARE her—help her ride each wave by breathing through them and by thanking each surge for bringing your baby closer

If her belly hurts you can

  • Remind her to go to the bathroom often
  • Help her change positions
  • With a light touch, massage her lower belly and thighs
  • Offer a warm heating pad
  • Allow her to lean on you; help her sway and rock with the contractions

If she is having trouble relaxing you can

  • Place a hand over her hand
  • Have her shake both hands in the air
  • Touch her and remind her to relax, one body part at a time
  • Talk about a relaxing memory
  • Play music that helps her relax, or a guided meditation
  • Read to her
  • Rub her back or neck
  • Remind her to trust the process and to release her desire for control; exude peaceful confidence and be her strength so she can relax

If she is too hot you can

  • Wash her face and neck with a cool, wet cloth
  • Give her ice chips
  • Fan her face and body
  • Open a window or turn down the thermostat

If her back hurts you can

  • Help her change positions
  • Put a warm cloth or heat pack on her back
  • Put a cold cloth or ice pack on her back
  • Apply counter-pressure to her lower back or sacrum with your hands or a tennis ball
  • Sit back to back with her so your backs can press together
  • Have her lean against the pain with her own fists
  • Help her stand and lean against the wall
  • Help her get on her hands and knees and rock back and forth
  • Suggest positions that allow her belly to hang while she sways and moves her hips

If her legs and arms shake you can

  • Hold her steady so she feels more in control
  • Use a soft touch or long, firm stroking on her legs and arms
  • Rub her feet and hands
  • Put a warm blanket on her

If her contractions stop you can

  • Encourage rest and relaxation
  • Ask her about her fears and anxieties; acknowledge them and reassure her
  • Be sure her environment makes her feel safe and comfortable
  • Kiss and cuddle her, or help her with nipple stimulation if she feels open to intimacy
  • Tell her how strong she is
  • Make sure she’s hydrated and nourished
  • Brew more red raspberry leaf tea
  • Suggest a hot shower
  • Help her take a walk
  • Rub her back
  • Take her outside
  • Encourage her to get some sleep; lay down with her