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Birth Partner's Guide to Labour and Birth

Birth Partner's Guide to Labour and Birth

Labour and birth can be a very vulnerable time, both physically and emotionally. Having a strong support person can help make the birthing person feel more comfortable, safe, empowered and strong. A supportive birthing partner can enhance the birth experience and help to avoid birth trauma. It can feel overwhelming to think about how to be the best support person during labour and birth, so here are some tips and suggestions to help you feel more confident as a birth support person.


About Jacinta

Jacinta is a Registered Endorsed Midwife who has been supporting families during pregnancy, birth and postpartum for 10 years. Jacinta believes in supporting families in a way that reminds women of their power, so they can make decisions that are right for them.

Jacinta is the co-director of Avenir Life Midwifery on the Gold Coast, QLD. Avenir Life is a boutique holistic midwifery group practice committed to providing the highest quality of care for expecting mothers and their families. Their focus is on home birth and continuity of midwifery care with a collaborative approach. To find out more about midwifery care with the team at Avenir Life visit

Jacinta Reid

Co-Director of Avenir Life Midwifery

Registered Endorsed Midwife



Tips on how to be a great support person during labour and birth:


01 Emotional support

Being a strong support person emotionally can help reduce anxiety and fear for the birthing person. When a woman has good support emotionally, she will feel safe, calm, and confident, and this will help her have a more positive experience.

  • Being present. Sometimes you might not have to do much at all, just being there and fully present is enough to help the birthing person feel emotionally safe.
  • Providing words of encouragement and reassurance are great ways to be emotionally supportive. Saying things like “you can do this”, “you are “safe”, “I am here for you”, “you are so strong”, “you are capable”, “You’re doing amazing” are all ways to provide emotional support particularly if you notice the birthing person is becoming more distressed.

02 Physical and Practical support

There are many things you can do to provide physical and practical support. Physical touch can help minimise discomfort and pain, and it can help the birthing person feel calmer and more relaxed. You could offer to massage areas that causing pain or discomfort such as the neck, back and shoulders. Soft touch can also be done by gently stroking anywhere on the body that feels ok for the birthing person. You might also be able to help the birthing person into comfortable positions, and provide support by holding their arms, or legs, or allowing them to lean on you while standing as they sway from side to side.

Providing practical support could include providing water and food during labour and birth, assisting them to the bathroom, shower, pool, providing a cool face cloth, or fanning them to cool them down. 

The best thing to do is discuss these things during the pregnancy, get to understand what it is the birthing person might like/dislike and write a plan together. By knowing and understanding what they want their birth to look like, you are more able to support them in a way that helps them have the birth they want.

03 Advocacy support

Knowing the birth persons’ wishes allows you to advocate for them during times that they cannot advocate for themselves. To provide advocacy support it is important you educate yourself. Learn about birth rights, procedures, interventions, and physiological birth. Having someone that the birth person can rely on to facilitate communication with health care providers will help them better communicate their needs and concerns. The BRAIN acronym can be helpful when supporting the birthing person to make decisions.

B What are the benefits?

R What are the risks?

A Are there any alternatives?

I What is my intuition saying?

N What if we do nothing?

These are the sort of questions you could ask to help the birthing person make informed decisions.

04 Environment support

Creating a calm environment is vital for the birthing person. A space that feels comforting and relaxing will help with the release of hormones that help labour to progress. Some ways to do this include dimming the lights- soft lightening can help create a soothing atmosphere. Have music playing that the birthing partner has chosen/likes. Help to minimise any distractions by keeping the birthing space quiet. Aromatherapy oils can create a calming scent. Be the protector of the space. Look for any potential disruptions/distractions and help to remove them.

Having a strong support team can make a huge difference for the birthing person. Birthing people feel more confident, safe, and calm when surrounded by supportive people, and this can help improve birth outcomes.

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