For many women just having their partners with them is the most important thing. No one can replace the love and support you have to offer.
Talk about what kind of labor support you feel comfortable giving. Studies have shown that most dads, partners or both give labor support by staying near their partner and doing things suggested by others. A much smaller percentage of dads and partners actively coach their partner during labor.
What is most important is that the two of you feel OK about what you will do. If your partner needs more labor support, consider asking a family member or friend. Or, hire a doula, a labor support professional.
While you are at home—and it's a good idea to stay home as long as possible—help your partner relax. You know how to do this better than anyone else because you know her the best. When you are in the hospital, the labor nurses and her health care provider can offer you tips and ideas on how to help.
To be better prepared, and to help set your own mind at ease, read the sections preparing for labor and giving birth. Also, see the labor companion's quick checklist.
It can help you with some common labor and birth situations. Reading it ahead of time may make you feel more confident. You'll know where to find answers quickly if you need to.
Here is a general overview of the phases and stages of labor and some things you can do. Remember, it's your love and encouragement that is most valuable.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
You will learn things that will help the two of you cope with labor, get answers to your questions, and meet other expectant couples.