This is the first 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.

Why is it important for Partners to Take Care of Themselves in Labor?

Labor can be a long and physically demanding life event, even for the support person. If partners do not take care of themselves during this process, they will have nothing left to give once the baby is born. This is often the time when their energy and assistance is critical for care of the newborn.

Let’s hear from the doulas

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

“What is your best tip for partners when it comes to taking care of themselves during labor and birth?”

Make sure to hydrate as frequently as the laboring mom! And eat snacks you bring as well as meals. Mom needs you to have good energy. Don’t eat stinky foods in the room and if she’s not eating, eat elsewhere. – Melissa Schultz

Don't underestimate how important you are in this - your partner needs you! Make sure you're drinking water and having some healthy fuel to get you through. Rest when the birthing person does. It's sort of like how on an airplane you are advised to put on your own mask before assisting others - you're not going to be as helpful to the birthing person if you're dehydrated and running on empty. – Helen Scammell

Working with the doula, take breaks to walk or rest for a few minutes, eat and drink as needed. - Daphne Reynolds

Building a team that is supportive and respectful. Having all external needs taken care of by family & friends. - Denise Bolds

Step out of the room every few hours and take a quick walk through the halls or outside if it’s possible. This helps you to recharge and reset your mind so that you come back stronger and more ready to support than ever! - Melissa Colatosi

Stay hydrated! Rest when the laboring person is resting. Eat regularly. - Rebekah Gilley

Hire a doula! Second to that, pace yourself. Use good body mechanics. Sit when possible. Stay hydrated, and bring snacks. - Katie Rohs


Breathe, take breaks, keep hydrated and nourished. - Sheri Walker

The partner is the absolute most important person in the room. I encourage them to take breaks and get food often, just like I do moms. They need to be their best to support mom. - Steffanie Thomas

Don't forget to pee! I'm serious. It's easy to get swept up in the energy of the birth process, but you have to tend to your own basic needs in order to be a good support to your partner. - Brigid Vance

Make sure you bring a jacket, snacks and a pillow. Hospital birthing rooms are often kept pretty cold, because mama’s are working hard and they get hot easily. So make sure you have a sweatshirt or jacket with you to stay comfortable. Bring lots of good easy to eat snacks, often times the hospital cafeteria closes in the middle of the night and you don’t want to risk feeling starving at 3am and not have any good options. Lastly, bring your own pillow. For one thing, you’ll be more comfortable. But most importantly, mama needs ALL the pillows in the room oftentimes, so having your own ensures a comfortable place for you to rest your head. - Jenn Smith

Summary

Experienced doulas tend to agree that eating snacks and drinking water is an important way to take care of yourself during labor and birth. Other themes that came up include resting and taking breaks when time allows. The quote “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is a perfect one to illustrate the importance of taking care of yourself during labor.

More in the series: