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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, partner, or a relative – there are quite a few practical things they can do to help you. 

The most important thing your birth partner can do is just be with you.

Talk to your birth partner beforehand about the type of birth you'd like and the things 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's 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.

Whatever kind of birth you're planning for, your birth partner can:

  • keep you company and help pass the time during the early stages
  • hold your hand, wipe your face and give you sips of water
  • massage your back and shoulders, and help you move about or change position
  • 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 you choose, even if they're different from what's in your birth plan
  • 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.

Your partner can find out more about how to support you during pregnancy and labour in Pregnancy, birth and beyond for partners and 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.

Find maternity services near you.

Page last reviewed: 29/04/2017

Next review due: 29/04/2020

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Signs labour might be starting

Including contractions, backache and having a 'show'