Childbirth is a time when new mothers have historically had three to four people around them for support. In fact, traditionally, new parents are babied as much as the baby! So, while you might not be the one doing all of the pushing…you have an invaluable role to play in the delivery room! Your loving attention and support will go a long way to helping your child’s birth go as smoothly as possible.  

Here are just a few ways you can support your partner during labor. 

Do your homework.

Ready or not, this baby’s going to come…but being as ready as possible will help you be a superstar sidekick. Your better half is going to have a lot on her mind—and her plate—on the big day. By being prepared for what’s to come, you can help calm her worries and communicate with her care team. And, in anticipation of the big day, it would be so very helpful if you brush up on labor basics with a book or a birthing class…just make sure you have a full grasp of everything that will be happening!  

Pack the go-bag.

When delivery day arrives, you’ll want to have all of the supplies you need for labor—and your subsequent hospital stay—ready to go. (It’s best to pack your hospital bag a few weeks before your due date though…don’t leave it until the last minute!). Along with any required paperwork, ID, and insurance cards, changes of clothes and toiletries, be sure to stock your sack with distractions. You may have to spend some time just waiting around (think: a deck of cards, magazines, or a tablet loaded up with shows to watch). You may want to stash a few comfort items or anything the parent-to-be needs to feel relaxed…perhaps lavender oil to dot on her hospital pillow or cozy socks and light snacks Mom can munch during labor (simple crackers, herbal tea with honey, coconut water) and some of her favorite treats once the baby is born (you really work up an appetite giving birth!). And, make sure you have extra face masks on hand that you can use to protect yourselves and your care team from COVID-19. 

Appoint yourself Calmer-in-Chief.

The process of labor can get…a teensy bit stressful. That means one of your most important duties is keeping your partner calm and confident. Make a playlist of soothing songs that you can switch on to relax her, practice deep breathing, or even do a meditation together. 

Ask questions and be ready to advocate for your partner.

Familiarize yourself with the labor plan so that you’re prepared to answer questions on behalf of your partner, ask questions to make sure you’re all on the same page, and advocate for your loved one in the delivery room. 

Be ready to be there…in whatever way your partner needs you.

Your job is ultimately…whatever the parent-to-be says it is! It might mean feeding her ice chips and wiping sweat from her brow…or it could be simply holding her hand…or even holding a leg when it’s go-time!

Needless to say, now is not the time to comment about how exhausted you are or to voice how gross this whole labor business is. Nope! Your job is to help lift her spirits as she tackles this tough task. 

Capture the moment (with permission!).

Though the mere memories of your child’s birth will last a lifetime, you may also want photo or video to commemorate the experience. If that’s something you and your partner have discussed and agreed upon in advance, your job will be to snap photos and record video during or right after labor (no unauthorized paparazzi pictures, please!).

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.