Deal (calmly and firmly) with hospital staff and family. If you’ve hired a labor assistant she (or he) will take on the task of making sure hospital staff and family follow your partner’s wishes when it coms to visits and medical interventions. If not it’s up to you to be your partner’s voice while she’s busy with contractions and giving birth. If you’re faced with a decision you’re unsure about, be it visitors or a medical intervention, don’t be afraid to ask if you can have time to consider and confer with your partner.
Time contractions. Use the stopwatch and notes on your phone (or a clock with a second hand, pen and paper) to time and record the length of contractions and the time between them.
Walk and support her through contractions. Hold your elbow at a 90-degree angle for stable support while you walk the halls. For strong contractions hold her under her arms to help support her in a squat and make sure she doesn’t topple over.
Cool washcloths for her brow and neck.
Stay positive. Offer words of reassurance and encouragement or just sit and hold her hand. Crack jokes when things get tense. Do not say “I understand” or “we’re going to get through this” — you don’t. You and she are going through two different experiences together. Instead of offering “poor you” sympathy remind her that she’s tough.
Take care of yourself. While your partner is in labor she is not to going to be able to tend to your needs, emotional or otherwise. Bring food for yourself and eat something at least every 4-5 hours (but do not eat it in front of her). Take naps so you can stay supportive if her labor lasts into the 20+-hour range.
Ice chips and water. Hospitals don’t like women to drink during labor because it’s safer to have an empty stomach if an emergency c-section with general anesthesia needs to be performed. If your parter is on ice chips only for hydration scout out the ice machine and keep her supply steady. Keep yourself hydrated, too.
Advocate for the baby. If you’ve agreed on certain things like not bathing the baby right away and skin-to-skin contact make sure that hospital staff follows through. If your partner and new baby go to different rooms offer to stick with the baby so she won’t have to worry where baby is being taken and what’s being done.