mother and new baby

How Partners Can Be Involved in Labor

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

More Than Just Moral Support

How a Partner Can Be Involved in Labor.

1. Informational Support

Start by helping mom gather birthing information so she knows her options. Know what she wants and support that. Laying out her birth preferences ahead of time can help keep mom and you focused when things get tough.

During the delivery, be her advocate. Ask questions. This will help both of you make informed decisions as labor progresses. Sometimes things do not go as planned. Knowing your choices and the possible options beforehand is important.

2. Physical Support

Labor is a process, and typically, not a quick event. Early labor may not require much hands-on physical support but as labor advances, that need increases. It can be as simple as a grounding touch, such as a hand on her shoulder to a double hip squeeze.

Another form of physical support is movement. Walk with her. Slow dance with her. Stand with her. Support her as she lunges with her foot on a chair. Provide counter pressure on her lower back. All of these are helpful ways to physically support a laboring woman.

Water therapy is another excellent thing during labor. Encourage mom to take a shower or relax in a tub. You can help her create a calming environment by dimming the lights, playing soft music, using aromatherapy or checking the water temperature. Anything you can do to make her comfortable and relaxed is helpful.

3. Emotional Support

Every woman has different emotional needs that can vary during labor. In the beginning, she may need you to be excited. As the labor progresses, the excitement will turn to focus and she will need reassurance. As the intensity rises, so must your encouragement. Be her coach, her cheerleader, her advocate, her biggest support. Simply: show her how proud of her you are. Tell her she is doing a great job, that her body is strong and that she can do this! She needs to know you’re in her corner, regardless of whether she is choosing an all-natural labor or opting for pain medication. Show her she is safe and supported even if she decides to stray from her birth plan.

Encourage mom to get out of her own way. This is my favorite metaphor for this situation: Picture that you’ve been doing pushups for hours. You’re exhausted, you’re ready to quit. You couldn’t do one more. Then, your trainer pushes you to do five more. YOU DO IT. Our bodies are more capable than our brain thinks.

While every birth is different, the three tiers of support will help mom and you have a better labor experience. No matter what happens, remember that the most important thing is just being there for mom.


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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