What Your Birth Partner can do

Support during labour and birth

Whether you are the baby’s father, a close friend or relative, there are some practical things you can do to help as a birth partner. 

The most important thing that you can do as a birth partner is to just be with your partner. Beforehand, talk to her about the type of birth she would like and the things that she would prefer not to do, so you can help support her in her decisions. It can help to go through the birth plan together.
As the due date approaches make sure you can be contacted at all times.  If a hospital or midwife led unit birth is planned, you can make sure you know where the mother's bag of items for the birth and hand held record are and make sure you bring these in to the hospital / birth centre when she goes into labour.  You may also want to have a bag ready for yourself with snacks, a camera and phone. If you're planning a home birth, you can help her to make sure she feels she has what she needs in place. 

You will want to plan how you are getting to the hospital / birth centre.  If you are planning to drive, you may want to plan your route, make sure you know where the maternity unit is, the drop off point and car parking.  You may want to think about whether you should drink alcohol near the due date in case you need to drive unexpectedly.  If you are planning to take a taxi, make sure you have enough cash ready. 

Remember, labour can be a long process and you may be advised not to come into the hospital / birth centre until the contractions last 30-60 seconds and come every five minutes. 

If you are planning to bring baby home in a car, it’s also a good idea to make sure you have the car seat ready and know how to strap it in properly. 

There is no way of knowing what the labour is going to be like or how each of you will cope. Remember that your partner may change her mind about what kind of pain relief she wants when she is in labour and it’s important to be supportive.  

There are many ways a partner can help. You can:
  • keep her company and help to pass the time during the early stages
  • hold her hand, wipe her face, give her sips of water
  • massage her back and shoulders, help her to move about or change position, or anything else that helps
  • comfort her as labour progresses and contractions get stronger
  • remind her how to use relaxation and breathing techniques, perhaps breathing with her if it helps
  • support her decisions, such as the pain relief that she chooses
  • help her explain to the midwife or doctor what she needs – and the other way round – which can help her feel much more in control of the situation
  • tell your partner what's happening as your baby is being born, if she can't see what's going on
You may be able to cut the umbilical cord – you can talk to your midwife about this.

Seeing your baby for the first time

For many parents, being together during labour and welcoming their baby together is an experience that they cannot begin to put into words. Many fathers who have seen their baby being born and were involved in the birth say that they feel much closer to the child from the start.

Find out more from NHS Choices:
Find out more about how to support your partner during pregnancy and labour in Pregnancy, birth and beyond for dads.

Find out more about feelings and relationships in pregnancy, including worries about the birth and sex in pregnancy.



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