10 Ways to Comfort a Woman Giving Birth

You might feel helpless thinking about how to comfort 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. Support might even improve the outcome and reduce the length of labor.

To ease anxiety you may have about the experience, it's helpful to know a couple of things you can and say that will be helpful, as well as what's not helpful.

Whether your partner is in labor or you are part of a woman's support team during the birth process, here's how you can help.

Be Prepared

It's best to be prepared for the time you're going to spend in the delivery room. You don't want to end up trying to cater to your growling stomach or distended bladder as the laboring mom is finally ready to start pushing.

Come prepared with snacks, drinks, extra clothes, and any other necessities so you won't need to leave the delivery room.

Be Informed

Entering the delivery room uninformed can be just as bad as being unprepared. Be able to answer common questions about the childbirth experience as it pertains to the person you're supporting.

What are the stages of labor? Does the laboring woman you are attending to want anesthesia? What is their doctor's name? Does she have a birthing plan?

Your job, as the support person, is to have all this information on hand. You should also have the phone numbers of important family and friends at your fingertips.

You do not want to undermine the laboring mother's preferences, but she might need you to advocate for her. You can do this by knowing what she wants, then finding out how you can make it happen. Make sure her wishes are heard.

Be Patient

If there's one thing you need in the delivery room, it is patience. Labor can take a long time—it's simply the natural order of the process. Stepping out of the room (or even the hospital) to take a short break is one thing, but taking a few hours to go to work because "the baby's not coming anytime soon" might get you into a jam.

It's true that the process can take time, but it's also possible that once things get going, they'll pick up speed. You don't want to be halfway across town when her labor really gets going, as you might miss out.

Prepare for a Queasy Stomach

Childbirth can get messy. Sometimes it involves medical tools and instruments or even surgery. You'll need to be prepared for blood and other bodily fluids.

If you're the fainting kind, consider finding a replacement or someone who can back you up. Otherwise, you'll have to figure out how to be present while keeping your cool.

It can help to talk to your partner's doctor or nurse beforehand. They can help you prepare for what's to come and might even be able to give you tips on how to avoid fainting or getting queasy.

Tips to Help the Birth Process

There are plenty 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 so you know when it's most effective (and appropriate) for you to step in and help.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Massage your partner's temples to help release stress and relax.
  2. Remind her to go to the bathroom every hour. A full bladder is not only uncomfortable, but 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.
  4. Encourage her to drink fluids and eat if her doctors will allow it. Eating and drinking can help restore energy needed for the marathon of labor.
  5. Help her change positions to encourage labor to progress. Some positions will provide pain relief, but others might feel more painful.
  6. If her back is hurting, provide some counter pressure by placing your hands on the small of her back (or wherever she says to do it) and apply some pressure as hard as she likes. Doing this with your partner in the hands and knees position can also help ease pain.
  7. Be there for her, but listen to what she wants. She might not always want to be touched, but being by her side is still helpful. Just stand nearby and let her feel your presence. You can also verbally encourage her.
  8. Help her into a warm shower or tub. Water in labor can be good for pain relief.
  9. Apply a heating pad, rice sock, or warm blanket to her lower back, limbs, or perineum (toward the end of labor) to ease the pain.
  10. Remind her of why she's doing all this hard work: The baby!

A Word From Verywell

Labor and childbirth can be an intense experience. It's understandable that you might feel intimidated. If you will be with someone through labor and delivery, remember why you are there: to provide support and be an advocate.

Be prepared—whether that means asking questions or bringing whatever you need to make sure you'll be there when the big moment arrives. Rest assured that you'll both get through it just as countless others have before you.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bohren MA, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C, Fukuzawa RK, Cuthbert A. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;7:CD003766. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub6

  2. American Pregnancy Association. Alternative relaxation techniques. Updated August 2015.