Best advice for supporting a woman in labor

This is the sixth post in our Ask the Doulas series.We have gathered a variety of doulas to share wisdom gained from their experience working with hundreds of families.

Let’s hear from the doulas

We posed the following question to our experienced panel of doulas:

“What is your best overall advice for being a supportive partner during labor and birth?

Validate her concerns and hopes. Show genuine interest in the process. Go to classes together. And reassure and encourage her every step of the way. – Melissa Schultz

Your partner needs you. The professionals will cover everything for the birthing person's health and safety, but your partner is relying on you as their anchor to keep them grounded. You are the one who loves them and the baby more than anything. Your shared hopes and dreams for this new life that has been created will help the birthing person feel so loved and supported in one of the most important times of your lives together. – Helen Scammell

Be prepared with knowledge, decisions and desires spelled out in advance, hire a doula to help you, and maintain a calm presence as you welcome your baby. – Daphne Reynolds

You will see your partner like never before. Trust the process, trust your team and most of all trust your instincts. – Denise Bolds

In her mind you are the most important person there and she needs your love and support more than anyone else’s. Be there for her in whatever way she needs in that moment whether it’s hours of hip squeezes or simply holding her hand. – Melissa Colatosi

Just being there is huge. Even when things feel crazy and chaotic, your presence can set the birthing person at ease.– Rebekah Gilley

Your presence alone means so much to the birthing parent. You don't need a lot of knowledge about birth (though it helps!); rely on your knowledge of the birthing person. – Katie Rohs

Don’t try to fix her. Just acknowledge her feelings, tell her she’s amazing and doing a great job. Hire a doula! – Sheri Walker

Listen. Be there. Encourage mom. You share the most special relationship with her over any one else in your birthing space. You will have the single biggest effect on mom. She trusts you more than anyone. You do not have to do any thing grand. You just have to be there for her. – Steffanie Thomas

Be there for your partner in the ways she needs. Listen, love, and nurture. – Brigid Vance

Mama needs to heal and rest. She needs to be fully supported and cared for during her postpartum time. Sit down and make a plan ahead of time regarding things like meals, visitors, cleaning tasks, childcare and the like. Communicating about these things ahead of time will save you many frustrations later. – Jenn Smith

Encourage baby to stay on mom as much as possible. – Krystal Martin

Help with the baby in any way that your partner needs. Maybe it's changing diapers, rocking them, or just holding them while your partner naps or showers. Always, but especially if the birth didn't go as planned, tell the partner that they did an amazing job. – Rebecca Shelton

Be present and be actively engaged. – Amy Gottschang

Listen, keep the environment spa-like &/or romantic – Pam Perry


The value of continuous support in labor in immeasurable. Research has shown continuous support to lead to a reduction in cesarean birth, use of forceps, decrease use of pain medication and an increase in birth satisfaction. The support person(s) is such an important member of the birth team. Master the skill of listening, acknowledging her feelings and being present in the moment and this will go a long way.

More in the series: