10 Ways to Comfort a Woman Giving Birth

Supporting a woman in labor means doing and avoiding certain things

Woman having labor pains
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Many of us feel helpless when it comes to comforting a woman in labor, but it is an important role. Research shows that continuous support during childbirth can have positive benefits for both the mother and the baby. It may even improve the outcome and help reduce the amount of time that she's in labor.

To ease any anxiety you may have about the experience, it's helpful to know a couple of right things to do and say.

It's also good to get a few tips on what not to do.

Helping Your Partner During Labor

Whether your partner is in labor or you are part of a woman's support "staff" during the birth process, here's how you can help things go a little smoother.

Be Prepared

It's best to be prepared for the time you're going to spend in the delivery room. You could end up trying to cater to your own empty stomach as the laboring mom is finally ready to start pushing. Be sure to bring snacks, drinks, clothes, and other necessities along so you don't need to leave the delivery room.

Be Informed

Entering the delivery room uninformed can be just as bad as being unprepared. What are the stages of pregnancy? Does the laboring woman want anesthesia? What's the doctor's name? Is there a birthing plan? Your job, as the support person, is to have all this information, along with phone numbers of important family and friends, at your fingertips.

In addition, standing back when decisions need to be made can undermine the laboring mother's preferences. What does she want? How can you make it happen? You're her advocate while she's unable to take action and this is your time to make sure her wishes are heard.

Be Patient

If there's one thing you need in the delivery room, it is patience because labor can take a long time.

That is simply the natural order of this process. Stepping out for a short break is one thing. Taking a few hours to go to work because "the baby's not coming anytime soon" may lead to problems and you could miss out.

Prepare for a Queasy Stomach

Getting queasy is not the most helpful thing, though it is understandable. Birth is messy and sometimes it involves instruments or even surgery. If you're the fainting kind, consider finding a replacement or someone who can back you up just in case. Otherwise, you'll have to figure out how to be present even if it's a bit scary. Talking to a doctor and learning what to expect beforehand can help you prepare.

Tips to Help the Birth Process

There are a number of small things that you can do to help a woman in labor relax. It's good to have a few tricks up your sleeve and develop a plan with the delivery team. They've been through this before, so they're sure to have some advice of their own.

To help you get started, here are a few ideas you can try:

  1. Massage her temples to help release stress and relax.
  2. Remind her to go to the bathroom every hour. A full bladder is not only uncomfortable, it can also stall labor.
  3. Try cool compresses on her neck and face. You can even lightly wash her face, which can feel good when she's working so hard.
  1. Encourage her to drink fluids and eat if her care providers will allow it. Eating and drinking can help restore used energy for the marathon of labor.
  2. Help her change positions to encourage the progress of labor. Some positions will provide pain relief, others may feel more painful. Do what works for her.
  3. If her back is hurting, do counter pressure with your hands on the small of her back (or wherever she says to do it) as hard as she likes. Doing this in the hands and knees position will also help with the pain.
  4. Be there for her. Even when she may say that she doesn't want to be touched, being there for her is very important. Just stand near her so that she can feel your presence and verbally encourage her.
  1. Try the shower or tub. Water in labor is very good for pain relief of all sorts.
  2. Apply a heating pad, rice sock, or warm blanket to her lower back, limbs, or perineum (at the end) to help her.
  3. Remind her of why she's doing this: The baby!

A Word From Verywell

Labor can be intense and you might be intimidated by it leading up to the experience. Rest assured that you'll get through it, just like countless others before you. The best thing to remember is that you're there for support. Be prepared and compassionate and you will both get through it.

Source:

Bohren MA, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C, Fukuzawa R, Cuthbert A. Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2017;7;CD003766. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub6.