Menu
What partners can do: 10 ways to support your partner during labor

Labor can be intense, overwhelming and empowering. But it also can be, dare we say... boring. You can spend a decent amount of time just waiting around for your little one to show up. Dad, this is where you have the opportunity to really shine.


See, the act of physically having a baby is mostly a mama-and-baby show. They're the stars, yes, but you have the (best) supporting role, and there's lots you can do to help your partner.

Here are 10 ways you can support your partner during labor.


1. Take a childbirth education class together.

Be proactive. Learn about what labor and delivery entails—together. This process is all about supporting one another, and if you kick off the journey by supporting each other even before baby has made his appearance, you're ahead of the game.

FEATURED VIDEO

Paying attention in class gets you extra points! It's good for you to understand how labor works—the different stages of labor, why a woman might need a C-section, what happens in those first moments after the baby is born, etc. The more you know, the less fearful you'll be. Knowledge is power, papa.

Pro tip: Take Motherly's video birth class! We discuss the father's role in-depth and share specific tips and tricks for you both.

2. Discuss birth preferences in advance.

Our Birth Editor, Diana Spalding, emphasizes the importance of being on the same page. “It's really important for couples to have lots of conversations about her birth preferences ahead of time so that her partner can advocate for her while she's in labor. It's not that she won't be able to talk, of course—and she should be included in the conversations—but it's nice when the partner can help her get her wishes expressed."

3. Consider hiring a doula.

A doula can provide another form of support during labor, which can take some of the pressure off you and mama. Doulas knows many pain-relief techniques for mom to try out in order to keep comfortable, like massage, different positions and relaxation visualizations. They also understand all the procedures involved with different types of births, so they can help you make any necessary decisions—think of them as well-informed birth advocates.

Ask friends if they've used doulas and if they could refer anyone. Or visit Doula Match to find someone in your area. Typically, you can interview this person in advance to see if you have chemistry, and you can ask questions and voice your concerns.

(Read more about what doulas want you to know.)

4. Time those contractions.

Once labor starts, get out your contraction timer app! (Note to self: Download and understand how a contraction timer app works in advance.)

Mama should not be in charge of timing her own contractions if she doesn't have to, so this one falls under your responsibilities. Count the frequency of contractions in minutes. Once they are about five minutes apart or less, lasting 30 seconds or more—it's time to go to the hospital. Be sure this is something you talk to your medical provider about in advance so you know exactly when they want you to head to the hospital (and what you feel most comfortable with).

5. Fend for yourself.

We're kidding. Kind of.

Mama is going to be pretty busy, so it's important for you to take care of yourself during this process. Pack your bag in advance with everything you'll need, and make sure you're eating, drinking water and resting while mom is resting. You're going to need energy, too!

6. Provide distractions.

Labor may take a while. Honestly, many couples wait around for a while before any action happens. So, provide some distractions for your wife. Suggest walking the halls together if she's able. Make conversation if she's up for it. Put a TV show on for her if she'd like. Get her a snack. Rub her back. Remind her to drink water (often). Put her birth playlist on. Let her squeeze your hands as much as she needs.

Follow her lead when figuring out what she's up for, but be prepared with a couple of tricks up your sleeve.

7. Document this experience.

Discuss this with your partner beforehand, but if there is some downtime or you're able to have your phone readily available (without it being a nuisance), snap a few pictures or videos. It'll be so nice to look back on this very special day together.

Plus, mama is going to be pretty focused on birthing a baby, so it may all feel like a whirlwind for her by the time it's over. Having pictures or a video will be a cool way to relive the process or just watch herself be a total boss.

8. Praise + encourage.

Hearing positive words of motivation from you can make such a difference. Tell her what a wonderful job she's doing, how in awe you are of her and her strength, and that you love her. Say things like, “You're doing great!" or “I'm so proud of you!"

Keep your voice quiet and calming. If you can stay calm, hopefully that'll help mama stay calm. Remember—you're working together as a team.

9. Be ready for the big moment.

You're about to go through the most life-changing experience. You're almost officially a dad. Soak it all in. Remember this moment. Appreciate that seriously amazing woman in front of you. And memorize every inch of that newborn baby once he is finally in your arms.

Understand that you may be asked to cut the cord, so think about whether you'll want to do that. You may change your mind in the moment, who knows! But giving it some thought in advance is a good idea.

10. Be her biggest supporter.

Studies have shown that just having a continuous support person with you during labor reduces the level of pain, time of labor and interventions needed. So even if you don't know exactly what to do at all times, you should know that your presence alone is incredibly important.

You guys are going to do great. You've got this.

Oh, and...

Pro tip: Let mom nap first. ?

Join Motherly

In This Article

    Why right now is the best time for a drivable getaway

    Flexible schedules mean more vacation options. 🙌

    Looking back now, last winter feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, my husband and I were eagerly planning our summer vacation just as we've done in years past. You know how the next part goes: COVID-19 came into the picture and changed our plans not only for vacationing, but for so much else in life.

    In the time since then, we've gained a truly valuable new perspective on what matters—and realized we don't have to look so far to make beautiful memories with our kids. By exploring getaways within driving distance of our home, we've developed a new appreciation for the ability to "pack up the car and go."

    Of course, that isn't to say that travel is the carefree adventure it once was. With COVID-19 still a very big part of the equation, we've become much more diligent about planning trips that allow for social distancing and exceed cleanliness standards. That's why we've exclusively turned to Vrbo, which helps us find nearby accommodations that meet our new criteria. Better yet?

    Thanks to the money we've saved by skipping air travel and our remote-friendly work schedules, we're able to continue with the trips throughout the fall.

    Here are a few more reasons we believe it's a great time for drivable getaways.

    Flexible schedules allow us to mix work + play.

    After months of lockdown, my family was definitely itching for a change of scenery as the summer began. By looking at drivable destinations with a fresh set of eyes—and some helpful accommodation-finding filters on Vrbo—we were able to find private houses that meet our needs. (Like comfortably fitting our family of five without anyone having to sleep on a pull-out couch!)

    With space to spread out and feel like a home away from home, we quickly realized that we didn't need to limit our getaways to the weekends—instead we could take a "Flexcation," a trip that allows us to mix work and play. Thanks to the ability to work remotely and our kids' distance-learning schedule for the fall, we're planning a mid-week trip next month that will allow us to explore a new destination after clocking out for the day.

    We’re embracing off-season deals.

    With Labor Day no longer marking the end of our vacationing season, we're able to take advantage of nearby getaways that mark down their rates during the off season. For us in the Mountain West, that means visiting ski-town destinations when the leaves are falling rather than the snow. By saving money on that front, we're able to splurge a bit with our accommodations—so you can bet I search for houses that include a private hot tub for soaking in while enjoying the mountain views!

    Vacationing is a way to give back.

    If we've learned one thing this year, it's that life can change pretty quickly. That's given us a new appreciation for generous cancellation policies and transparent cleaning guidelines when booking trips. By seeing both of these things front and center in Vrbo listings along with reviews from fellow travelers, I feel confident when I hit the "book now" button.

    Beyond that, I know that booking a trip through Vrbo isn't only a gift to my family. On the other side of the transaction, there are vacation home owners and property managers who appreciate the income during these uncertain times. What's more, taking getaways allows us to support our local economy—even if it's just by ordering new takeout food to enjoy from our home away from home.

    While "looking ahead" doesn't feel as easy as it once did, I am confident that there will be a lot of drivable getaways in our future.

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

    Our Partners

    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

    One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

    If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

    Stylish storage cabinet

    Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

    Letterboard

    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

    Work + Money

    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.

    Mama,

    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

    You are my everything.

    When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

    I trust you.

    Keep reading Show less
    Life