I have attended many births as a doula and I have helped hundreds of birth partners to prepare for birth so I know how daunting it can seem to be an affective and beneficial birth partner. Here are a few essential tips for birth partners…



  • Positive encouragement
  • Eye to eye contact and slow steady breathing
  • Massage can help in-between contractions
  • Speak quietly and gently, but firmly when appropriate
  • Remind her to relax her shoulders if they start to become tense
  • Remind her to keep her jaw loose, again so there is no tension
  • Encourage her to breathe out – to prevent her from holding her breath
  • Remind her to go for a wee about once an hour
  • Help her to change position for contractions, comfort and to rest
  • Explain what is happening
  • Communicate with your midwife and any other staff to gather information
  • Remember Benefits Risks Alternatives if an action is suggested and you don’t know why
  • Provide reassurance and security
  • Don’t feel that you have to be doing something all the time – just being there is often enough
  • Offer her a drink, especially if she is using gas and air, and is she hungry?


  • Keep your own strength up – you need food, drink and rest too
  • Look after your own back when supporting your partner, don’t stay in an uncomfortable position for too long
  • If you need support and reassurance, ask your midwife for information to help you stay calm – she is there for you too!
  • If you feel overwhelmed and panicky, focus on your breathing to stay calm and to refocus and take a short break

checklist for birth

Here’s a checklist of essentials to consider throughout labour and birth…

1 Does she feel safe?

Does she need more support and reassurance? Is it time to go to hospital? Does she want to see/speak to a midwife? Does she need quiet and calm? Does she need lower lights? Does she need help to focus on her breathing? What feels right for her?

2 What does she need?

Encourage her to say what she needs to feel supported, reassured, comfortable and safe.

3 Is she in a comfortable position? Help her to change into a position that feels better to rest and to manage contractions.
4 Can she be more upright?

If she needs to be on the bed, she can still use gravity by sitting upright in labour and kneeling to give birth.

If she doesn’t need to be on the bed, does she want to wander or use a ball or a chair?

5 Is she drinking plenty of water?

Even just a sip of water after each contraction, especially if using gas & air, can help keep her hydrated. Pack straws – these can make it easier to drink in labour.

6 Is she hungry?

She doesn’t have to eat a lot but nibbling on fruit and healthy snacks can help with energy in labour. If you are still at home, try offering more substantial – a main meal or a something like a jacket potato or beans on toast.

7 Is she going to the loo regularly?
Encourage her to go for a wee atleast every hour.
8 Is she using her breathing to stay calm and focused?
If she is feeling tense or panicky, encourage her to focus on her breathing to slow her heart rate, to give her something positive to focus on and to get you back in control. Encourage her to focus on her breathing during contractions so she stays as calm as possible.
9 Is she resting in-between contractions?

Encourage her to conserve energy – flop, lean, relax, breathe and rest in-between the contractions, even if they contractions are close together.

10 Ask questions…

If something is suggested and you don’t know what it is, why it is needed– ask for more information. What are the Benefits of doing it? What’s wrong with continuing as you are? Are there any alternatives? This helps you to work with your midwife.


Janine Smith – pregnancy, birth and parenting practitioner

If you are preparing for the birth of your baby you can book an antenatal class with me for information, skills, discussion and reassurance for birth. My sessions are for all expectant parents – you might need general information or need specific information to get you better prepared for labour and birth.

You can also download a copy of my Practical Guides to Labour & Birth