One of the easiest ways to support your partner during labor, birth and the early days of motherhood is through verbal support. Specifically, a well-timed encouraging phrase can be one of the most powerful initiatives you can make as a teammate and coach. Your supportive phrase just might help her find the extra energy to dig deep and bring forth the final push needed to birth the baby.

“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.” - Unknown

Knowing what words will be encouraging can be a little tricky, especially when hormones are high and emotions are aberrant. Phrases that typically seem helpful might be unhelpful during labor. For example, a phrase like, “Are you in pain?” might seem supportive. Instead, this phrase may bring increased attention to her likely discomfort. If she is in labor, you probably know the answer to this question. YES! She is in pain. As an alternative to asking a negatively pointed question, you could simply say, “You are so strong” and then offer to rub her feet or back.

With one handy rule, you can quickly decipher what phrases she will be more receptive to versus those that should be avoided.

Follow this rule by asking yourself the question below and completing it with the words you have in mind.

The Rule: Imagine your partner is running a marathon. Would you yell this phrase from the sidelines?

If the answer is yes, then go for it! Use this phrase early and often in labor.

Phrases that fall into this category include these powerful lines:

  • You are doing amazing!
  • Keep up the good work!
  • I’m proud of you!
  • You rock!
  • Go, girl!
  • You can do this!
  • You’ve already done so much!
  • You are a rock star!
  • I love you!
  • You got this!
  • You are so strong!
  • You’re my hero!
  • It’s not easy, but it’s worth it!
  • You’ve got what it takes!

If the answer is no, then it is probably advisable to holding off on what you were planning to say. Phrases that fall into this category include these negative lines:

  • You look like you are in pain.
  • Are you hurting?
  • You look really tired.
  • I’m tired.
  • You have been at this a long time.
  • How much longer will this be?
  • You must be hungry.
  • I think you just pooped on yourself.

As a final note, here are two quick points to consider as you create a verbal support plan.

1) Encouragement is more effective when you believe in what you are saying. Believe in her power to give birth and believe in her strength. When the words you are saying are genuine, they can be even more powerful.

2) Add some specific details to your encouraging words to make them even more effective. For instance, you can take a phrase like, “You are doing amazing” and add some specific details to say, “You are doing an amazing job pushing”.

One more time…

The Rule: Imagine your partner is running a marathon. Would you yell this phrase from the sidelines?

No matter what type of labor and birth she experiences this rule applies. If she has a C-section, you can follow this rule. If she has a vaginal birth, you can follow this rule. Bringing forth a baby is hard no matter how it is done and verbal support can make such a positive impact on her experience.

Finally, encouraging your partner might just help her change the way that she sees her own abilities and that’s a win for labor, birth and motherhood.


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