The following suggestions will help you support the mother through labour:
Help her Relax
- Listen to the mother. She can tell you what she needs.
- Help her to stay relaxed by touching, massaging, talking, breathing with her, and reminding her to move around. Check for relaxation by touching her arms, shoulders, and legs.
- If she tells you something is not working for her, do not try to force her to follow you. Move onto another relaxation or breathing technique that may be more effective.
- Get ice chips, wipe her forehead, walk with her, rub her back, and help her with comfort positions.
- Stay with the mother during labour.
Support her during Contractions
- When a contraction starts, focus on her. If people are trying to talk to her, let them know she is having a contraction. If you find it helpful, you can time the contractions. That way you can tell her when a contraction is at its peak and when it should be easing off.
- Make eye contact, say “Breathe with me,” and do the breathing yourself so she can follow you. At the end of the contractions say, “Take a deep breath and relax.”
- Tell her not to worry about any noises she makes – many women find making noise helps them get through the pain of their contractions.
- When a contraction is over, give her sips of fluid and help her move and relax.
Take Care of Yourself
- Try to stay calm.
- Bring snacks and something to drink.
Any time the mother needs help to cope, you may need to take charge for a while. To take charge:
- Move in close and have your face near hers.
- Be calm and say encouraging things.
- Hold her shoulders or head in your hands. Hug her tightly but gently.
- Tell her to open her eyes and look at you. Make eye contact.
- Encourage her with every breath and say things like, “Breathe with me, stay with it, look at me, good for you, it’s going away now.” Use a calm and confident tone.
- Talk with her between contractions and ask if you are helping.
- You might say, “Let’s breathe together. You are doing great. Let’s get through this part together. Let me help you more this time.”
- Don’t give up when she says she can’t go on. Tell her it is hard now but that you can do it together, this is normal, and think of the baby to come. It is OK to ask for help.
Ask for Help
- Talk to your health care provider and members of your medical and support team about your birth wishes.
- Ask questions if you have any concerns or don’t understand something.
If you are unsure of what to do, ask the health care provider to give you some ideas.