1. Take care of yourself.
This is one of the most important things you can do. To be there for your partner, you need to be awake, calm and comfortable.
- Eat regularly to maintain your energy
- Drink regularly (as often as she does)
- Find comfortable support for the long haul – avoid positions that will give you cramps or strain your muscles. Use chairs, pillows or walls to support yourself whenever possible.
2. Stay calm.
You are there to support your partner; the medical personnel are there to care for her health. Your partner’s mental health during the birth is your main priority. Staying calm and sharing your strength and positivity with her is an important part of that.
3. Know her preferences.
If she has a birth plan, make sure you have at least two copies with you and know which things are most important to her and which ones aren’t a big deal. Don’t know what a birth plan is? Read this comprehensive guide.
During labor, your partner may be too busy concentrating to fully discuss what she wants or needs. Liaise with medical carers and ask questions so she doesn’t have to.
4. Know how to time contractions.
The time between contractions is timed from the start of one contraction to the start of the next.
The length of the contraction is timed from the start of the contraction till the end of the contraction.
You can download plenty of free apps on your phone to easily time contractions and see their progress.
In many labors, contractions start out short and get longer as labor progresses. For this reason, your care provider will want to know how long they are in relation to the level of pain, so they can decide how far your partner is into labor before telling them to come into the hospital. The longer you stay home, the faster labor will often go – changing environments too early in labor can slow down or stop labor.
5. Show positivity, not sympathy.
Sometimes the thin line between forging through the pain and giving up is simply having the right support. Don’t tell her you understand, or that you can see her pain. Instead, tell her what a great job she’s doing and any positive information you can give her, such as how she’s getting closer to the end or that she’s handling the contractions really well.
Sometimes, things can get intense. When appropriate, there’s no reason you can’t break the mood with a funny joke – laughter can help her relax and give her a break from the intensity of labor – or help her get through a slow labor.
A teen boy walks into up to his teacher’s desk.
“We did everything we were taught in sex ed and my girlfriend still got pregnant!”
“So you used condoms or another type of contraception?” Asked the teacher.
“Yes,” said the teen boy, “We put the condom on the banana before we had sex and she still got pregnant!”
6. Need a break? Take one.
If you’re stressed or tired, you’re not going to be as intuitive or supportive. If you have a birth doula or support person with you who can take your place, even better. Take a break. Go grab some food, some fresh air or go for a walk.
7. Watch for tense muscles.
Tensing up muscles is common during pain, but it can also impede labor and increase pain. Help the muscles relax by gently stroking a hand down the muscle and watch it automatically relax at your touch. Talk to your partner about her preferred touching methods; some prefer soft, others light or even a simple tap.1 | 2 | 3