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8 Tips to Be A Better Birth Partner

Uncertain about your role as birth partner? This is the guide for you.

8 Tips to Be A Better Birth Partner

If you’re preparing to support someone through childbirth, congrats! I’m excited that you get to be part of something so special. As a doula, I regularly see husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, mothers, sisters and many more giving so much love and kindness showed to laboring women. It is truly a beautiful thing. But I also see a lot of people hesitating and uncertain of their role as a birth partner. While every birth is different and the specifics of what’s most useful (or least helpful) varies from person to person, these are some well-tested tools for being a great birth partner.

Here are 8 tips to help you be the best birth partner possible.

1. Be part of a great team. A great birth team includes people who can offer emotional and physical support, labor coping strategies (or for a planned c-section, surgery support), decision-making help, information and educational support, advocacy, and logistical help (like knowing where to go, who to call, and when). They are people the laboring mom feels comfortable having an intimate bodily experience with. Know your limits and ask for help from other people who can assist in providing the support that your partner needs. Hire a doula, invite a friend, or have family present. But know also who should not be part of the team.

2. Pack your bags. Though mom is probably the one packing the hospital bag, the birth partner is usually the one getting things out of the bag as needed during labor and postpartum. So know where things are so you’re not pulling out everything frantically looking for “that little blue pouch” or “the red folder” buried somewhere! Make sure the bags also include what you, birth partner, will need, like caffeine to help stay alert, a change of clothes and deodorant, and a headache reliever in case a sleepless night leaves you feeling off.

3. Practice and Prepare. Being a birth partner is a new experience for most people. So learn about childbirth, practice your support, and prepare. You can take classes, read books, watch videos online, listen to friend’s stories, or talk to your doula. Attend as many prenatal visits as possible so you can ask questions to your doctor or midwife. Practice different labor positions, breathing exercises, and massage techniques. Help and familiarize yourself with the birth plan, and talk about how you'll handle advocating for your partner and the birth experience that she wants. Finally, being a great pregnancy partner is a wonderful way to prepare for being a great birth partner. So give her foot rubs, comfort her through nausea and reassure her if she gets stressed or scared.

4. some “never-says.” Talking to your partner or wife is a great way to show your support during labor, but it's best to know what she wants to hear from you. Every woman is different, but there are common no-nos. For example, don't tell your partner that she is being too loud or inappropriate. Don't shush her, and if she curse, let her. Never say “I know” when she tells you how she feels. “I hear you” is often a better acknowledgment. Finally, never complain about being tired, about how long it is taking, or about your own aches. The internet overflows with lists of things never to say to someone in labor, you can learn from others' mistakes!

5. Fill your pockets. Having extra hair ties, a chapstick, and some gum or breath mints tucked in your pockets can be really valuable. I also always carry a vomit bag — highly recommended!

6. Keep calm. Labor support is best given from someone who is calm (or at least good at faking it). A calm birth partner can help with breathing and with touch or massage for relaxation and pain relief. It’s easy to expose your own anxiety or stress if you touch someone in a fast or distracted feeling way so try to keep touch intentional and relaxed. And if you know that you might not be great at keeping calm, consider having someone else on the team who can help you stay calm!

7. Find the rhythm. Contractions come in a relatively predictable way—about a minute-long contraction followed by a break (anywhere from a minute to 10 minutes depending on the stage of labor). Try to find this rhythm and stay present with it so you know when you'll be needed. If you are providing physical support during contractions, like holding hands or staying in eye contact, you’ll want to be ready when the contraction begins. It can be frustrating if you have a hard time anticipating the next contraction and need to be called over or brought back from a distraction like your phone. Between contractions you can offer a beverage or snack, suggest a trip to the bathroom (it can be hard to remember you need to pee during labor), or help with a position change.

8. Get ready for all the feelings. Being a birth partner can be physically and emotionally intense, especially with someone you love. When I gave birth to our first son, my husband was an amazing birth partner. But when we talked about it afterwards, he confessed he was overwhelmed seeing me in pain and feeling he knew so little (even after much preparation). He cried in the hallway during a quick break. How hard it was—for both of us!—is part of what led me to become a doula. So, get ready for an intense, incredible, overwhelming, life-changing, loud, messy, beautiful, all-of-the-above experience. Welcoming a new baby in the world is a beautiful act, and being a birth partner is an honor — be grateful for the opportunity and ready to be really moved by it.

Photo by Lauren Crew for Well Rounded.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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