family in labor

8 Ways to Take-Charge

By Lori Swanson, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services

How to Support Mom through Labor Using the Take-Charge Routine

There may be times during labor when mom hits an emotional low. This is when partners should use the Take-Charge Routine. It provides much-needed support during a challenging time. At its basis, it’s about moving in close and doing everything in your power to get her through the contraction. Using it, you can help mom regain her inner strength.

Here is the breakdown of the Take-Charge Routine.

  • Remain calm. Your touch should be firm and confident. Your voice should be calm and encouraging.
  • Stay close. Stay right by her side and keep your face near hers.
  • Anchor her. You can hold her shoulder gently, confidently and firmly. Or, lightly hold her in your arms.
  • Make eye contact. Tell her to open her eyes and look at you. Say it loud enough for her to hear you but make sure it is calm and kind.
  • Change the ritual. What she has been doing or using to get through contractions may no longer work. Change things up by suggesting a new position or trying a new breathing pattern. Breathe with her and get her to slow her breath down. Long and slow breaths can help calm the anxiety and fear.
  • Encourage. With every breath, say something like, “Breathe with me… that’s the way… just like that… good… stay with it… just like that… this contraction is passing now… nice big breath… great… now blow this one away… great… and now rest.” You can whisper or calmly speak these words to her throughout the entire contraction.
  • Talk to her between contractions. Ask if what you are doing is helping. Make suggestions about a new position, slowing down her breath or focusing on your eyes.
  • Repeat yourself. Contractions can be long, so it is ok to repeat your words.

Don’t give up on her. You cannot help her if you decide she cannot handle it. Acknowledge her concerns and the difficulty. Encourage her. It’s more than ok to ask for help and reassurance from the nurse or doctor. For example, they can measure dilation, give you advice, do some coaching, try something new or even reassure you what is happening is normal.

If none of this is working, sometimes all it takes is reminding mom of her baby. This can help mom regain her focus and any inner strength that’s been hiding out. Remind her that this is temporary. It may seem like an eternity, but the pain will subside.

While giving your all to mom, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Eat. Stay hydrated. You are no help to her if you are passed out on the floor. The nurse would be happy to stay in the room so you can grab food or take a 20-minute nap. Labor is a marathon. Make sure you have enough fuel for the journey.


St. Luke’s Birthing Center is located in Duluth, MN, with St. Luke’s clinics in the surrounding region, including Superior, WI. To schedule a tour of St. Luke’s Birthing Center, call 218.249.5605.


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