Information for labour support person

Labour is a slowly progressing and changing state. It can take a long time (average from 1st contraction is 36 hrs). Sometimes it can stop and start over several days.

She needs support, love, tender care, understanding, patience, reassurance and your strength.

Labour can be:

  • Exhausting physically and emotionally. The cascade of hormones means your woman will swing through the myriad of emotions. Be calm reassuring and encouraging.
  • Intense and frightening especially the first time. Sometimes things can feel out of your control especially if there is intervention. Remember the final decisions are hers and yours.
  • Beautiful and intensely emotional. Life changing
  • Difficult to watch the person you love in pain and your instinct will be to stop the pain or to do something. Remember this is pain with a purpose… the purpose of bringing a baby into the world. Unless she has decided for pharmacological pain relief in her plan with you previously, your suggesting or encouraging her to have an epidural is NOT helpful. If you are finding this hard to handle this is actually something you have to deal with. Don’t encourage her toward intervention because you are having trouble coping.


It is important you look after yourself with food and fluids also. She needs you to make it through to the end. Sleep when she sleeps so you don’t fall asleep on her when she needs you most.

DON’T be texting on your phone all through her labour. This woman is your priority, here and now not your other friends, nor work.

Early labour:

  • Encourage her to rest, sleep and eat in early labour.
  • She may be excited with her first contraction… usually there is a  long long way to go. It is most important that she and you go into established labour well rested, hydrated and nourished. Try to keep her calm remind her there may be many hours ahead and to rest.
  • Have a discussion before labour and KNOW what it is she wants so you can speak and stand for her when she can’t or when she is in transition.
  • Distraction … go for a walk (this can encourage labour), spoil her, do something nice for her, take her out for a meal…
  • REST eat and drink. CALM
  • If her waters break let me know.

Established labour:

-          Try and keep calm and relaxed. A woman in labour is intensely sensitive to other people’s emotions. Calmness supports the labour hormones and the progress of labour.

-          Labour is hard hard work. At some point your woman will not feel like eating anything. It is important to keep her fluids and energy levels up despite this. You (otherwise her labour may stall or even stop) Encourage and remind her to drink and suck on food/nibbles, lollipops, lemonade ice blocks, jelly beans. Drinks from a sippy bottle or use a straw in a cup – colourless because she will at some stage feel nauseous and colourless drinks aren’t so … messy.

-          Cups of ice    

-          Inspirational notes/words

-          She may feel cold so fetch warm covers. Then she may feel hot .. sipping on ice, fan.

-          Cold wet flannels around her neck or on her forehead.

-          Encourage her to keep moving once she is in strong labour. Help her shift position/s

-          Hold her leg/s if she needs you to.

-          Support her to walk and move.

-          Some women like touch in labour … some don’t. Some want massage during a contraction, some don’t. Some want massage in between contractions, some don’t. None of that mamby-pamby rubbing – proper massage… ask me to show you if you don’t know how to do this and ASK your woman what she wants. Don’t be surprised if she changes her mind from what she told you or what was in her birth plan. Or even if it changes during labour. This is common and usual.

-          Massaging base of spine during contractions – to help interrupt pain messages to the brain. …esp for back pain

-          If she gets sleepy or dozey and appears to be a “little out of it” keep it quiet and let her be. May be she will want/enjoy gentle massage or strokes at this time

-          Keep a sense of humour…. You’re gonna need it. But don’t laugh AT her!

-        -                 Sitting and keeping an eye on her in the bath or being in the bath for support if she wants you in.

-          Heat sometimes helps … on the base of her back or on her tummy….talk to me how we can do this because there are rules around the use of heat-packs in hospital.

-          Lavender for soothing/calming

-          Blowing raspberries for constipation and pushing in second stage

-          Encourage an empty bladder throughout labour

-          Encourage empty  bowels

-          Keep the room dim … dim lighting supports the cascade of hormones

-          Talk encouraging words. Be loving. This woman is bringing a baby into the world.

-          When she is in strong labour she cannot concentrate on what you nor anyone else is saying … don’t talk to her nor expect her to make a decision during a contraction…and don’t let anyone else push her into making a decision in the middle of a contraction.

-          You can cry if you feel like it … it is an appropriate time.

-          Ask me all the questions you need to.

-          Don’t take anything personally.

-          It’s ok to step out for a while if it is all getting too much… Just let me know what’s going on, so I can support her and you appropriately.

-          I may ask for your help to move, change or reposition her.

-          Labour can be messy…This is raw nature please don’t speak words of revulsion. This woman is awesome and powerful, look to the beauty of that.


-          Sitting and keeping an eye on her in the bath or being in the bath for support if she wants you in.