Tips for birthing partners

Birthing partners have an important role in supporting women in labour. Here we offer some useful tips for birth partners on planning, communicating and helping throughout.

Being a birth partner is a fantastic way to be supportive to your partner, friend or daughter.

Watch this video for tips on how to support your partner during labour.

If you are a birthing partner, you may find the following tips helpful:

  1. Beforehand, read up on what to expect during labour.
  2. Plan ahead so that you can be aware of what is happening.
  3. Your confidence in the process will help a lot when you are one of the birthing partners.
  4. Help to create a calm and comfortable environment: dim the lights, play music, discourage unnecessary interruptions. 
  5. Be practical – is she really comfortable? How about a pillow under her head or knees? Can she reach her water bottle?  
  6. Don’t talk too much during labour, as she needs to focus.
  7. Stay calm and keep your voice low to avoid disturbing her.
  8. Understand the importance of being upright during labour and provide her with support to do so, such as holding her while she leans against you.  
  9. Help her to cope with any pain by focusing on her breathing during contractions 
  10. Tell her how well she is doing. Loving encouragement is what she needs now.
  11. Accept her pain. Seeing somebody you love in pain is very difficult and it is very natural to want to stop the pain. Try to understand that in labour this response is not necessarily appropriate or even possible. 
  12. Respect her. Tell her what is going on and if something is not going as planned; explain clearly what the staff recommend to sort it out. Remember that her consent is needed for every aspect of her care and treatment. 

Make sure to look after yourself, too. Take a short break every hour.

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses  which are a great way to find out more about labour and life with a new baby.

NCT Doulas provide women, and their partners, with skilled physical and emotional assistance, as well as up-to-date knowledge, information and encouragement to help them have the type of labour and birth they would most like. NCT Doulas are all qualified professionals who have completed a nine-month course, developed by NCT in partnership with the University of Worcester, which is a recognised Doula UK course.

NHS choices offers tips for birthing partners.