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Pregnancy and baby

Tips for your birth partner

Support during labour and birth

Whoever your birth partner is – the baby's father, a close friend, or a relative – there are quite a few practical things that he or she can do to help you. 

The most important thing that your birth partner can do is just be with you. Beforehand, talk to your birth partner about the type of birth you would like and the things that you would prefer not to do, so they can help support you in your decisions. It can help to go through your birth plan together. 

There is no way of knowing what your labour is going to be like or how each of you will cope, but there are many ways a partner can help. They can:

  • keep you company and help to pass the time during the early stages
  • hold your hand, wipe your face, give you sips of water
  • massage your back and shoulders, help you to move about or change position, or anything else that helps
  • comfort you as your labour progresses and your contractions get stronger
  • remind you how to use relaxation and breathing techniques, perhaps breathing with you if it helps
  • support your decisions, such as the pain relief that you choose
  • help you explain to the midwife or doctor what you need – and the other way round – which can help you feel much more in control of the situation
  • tell you what's happening as your baby is being born, if you can't see what's going on

Your birth partner 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.

Your partner can find out more about how to support you 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.

Make sure you and your birth partner both know what to pack for the birth, and what to expect at the hospital or maternity unit if you're planning to have your baby there.

Page last reviewed: 09/02/2015

Next review due: 29/04/2017


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Signs that labour has begun

Including contractions, waters breaking, backache and having a "show"

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Create a birth plan

Write your birth plan here, and find out what issues you need to consider, such as where to give birth and your wishes on feeding