by Justine Deputy, RN, MSN

Being the support person is an important role during the labor, birth, and postpartum period. A lot of people focus on what mom is about to go through as labor nears (rightfully so), but some attention must also be brought to the support person. Just as knowledge helps mom understand things like what is normal in labor and what positions may allow her to be more comfortable, understanding what the support person’s role is can help ease the stress or anxiety that may be present while waiting for labor. This preparation will benefit mom and the support person by easing any stress or anxiety and providing support to mom during labor.

Below are tips for the support person during labor from The Birth Center Client Manual:

  • Be calm, confident and positive. Your presence is the most important contribution.
  • Let her choose what techniques to use: distraction, breathing, shower, etc., unless she seems to have trouble deciding. As labor progresses, she may need more suggestions and firm direction.
  • Encourage her to ignore labor as long as possible and to rest early to conserve energy for later labor.
  • Use frequent words of encouragement. She may not feel like she is doing very well, and your positive attitude will help a lot. Telling her she is doing well, that she will soon feel better, and how proud you are of her, will make her feel better even if she doesn’t believe you.
  • Tell her when you observe changes that indicate progress. She may feel like labor will never end and that nothing is changing.
  • If she seems to panic, get face to face, get her attention, and with words and touch, help her to get to the end of the contraction when she will be able to collect herself.
  • Take care of yourself. If you need to get a snack or to get stretch your legs, ask the midwife to relieve you. Your partner needs you in the best condition possible to support her.

You can also learn more about how to support mom in the Childbirth Full Series: Healthy Birth or Childbirth Education for the Planned Hospital Birth.