1.  Be Patient and Positive: The number one thing that any labouring person appreciates from their support person is patience. Childbirth can take a long time; whether it’s an induction, spontaneous labour or a caesarean section. Be prepared for lots of waiting. So don’t worry about watching the clock – Help the time pass by offering hands-on support and positive company.
  2.  Control the environment as best you can: There are many things we cannot control during childbirth, but one thing you have some control over is the environment. You can control the temperature in the room, how many blankets your partner has on their bed and ask the staff to dim the lights and close the door when they leave. You can also add other familiar items like music, photographs or fabrics, and a personal pillow.
  3.  Don’t take things personally: Childbirth (c-section or vaginal) is very physically, emotionally and mentally taxing. Remember that anything you do will be appreciated, but you might not get the response you normally do. Your labouring person may only have enough energy to say “NO!” or “STOP DOING THAT!”, because they are so focused on what’s going on within their body and mind. Don’t worry – Try that trick again at another time and stay positive!
  4. Ask questions about procedures and medical suggestions: When someone is in labour it can be difficult to understand questions and procedures properly; due to the focus that is required. So go ahead and ask all the questions you need from the medical staff. Ask the benefits and risks, if there are any alternatives to what they’re suggesting and if it’s something that needs to be done right now or a few hours from now. Everyone has a right to understand ALL medical suggestions and help to make decisions for their own body and their baby.


  5.  Rub their lower back at any time: If you ever wonder where you can touch your labouring person and the gesture will be appreciated – Rub their back! Slow. Very VERY slow and rhythmic; like you are putting them to sleep with your back rub.
  6.  Take breaks: Yep you heard me – YOU need breaks! Support people need to eat, sit, close their eyes and use the washroom! Take care of yourself so you can take care of the little human that is coming to meet you – because guess what – They only sleep 2 to 3hrs at a time for the first couple of weeks; so don’t wear yourself out completely! The labouring person wi
    ll need lots of help with the baby.
  7. Suggest one comfort measure at a time: During childbirth, the human brain switches to use less of its rational and logistical “thinking brain”, and more of its “mammalian” brain. This helps us to connect deeper to our bodies needs and our babies needs through the changes of labour. Suggest one thing at a time so as not to overwhelm the mind of your labouring loved one.
  8. Don’t pet them: Stay focused and intentional with your touch. Their sense of touch is VERY heightened during labour, so any light and repetitive stroking will likely feel terrible. Try a proper hand or foot massage or run your fingers through their hair.
  9. Shower them with love and encouragement: And if you’re uncertain about any of the above suggestions, then just shower this person with the love and encouragement that they need and deserve. You are the most familiar person in the room – Your kindness and patience goes a long way!


Sarah Wetmore
Labour and Postpartum Doula