What to do (and not do) during labour

This one’s for your birth companion – anyone whom you’re planning to have in the delivery room while you’re in labour and giving birth needs to read it.

Do: Be present.

Put down your phone, give her your full attention, and for the love of all that is holy, don’t wait to go to the toilet until right before the action is happening.

Do: Tell her she’s amazing and beautiful and doing an incredible job.

Praise goes a long way. It doesn’t matter if she’s sweating and her hair is plastered to her head and she’s grunting like an animal – which, by the way, are perfectly normal. She IS amazing and beautiful and doing an incredible job.

Don’t: Turn on the TV in the room and start watching the rugby.

We don’t care whom the All Blacks are up against. Unless she specifically tells you it’s okay to turn on the rugby because it will help to distract her while she’s having contractions, that TV stays off.

Do: Bring snacks and bottles of water or a sports drink so you can stay energised and hydrated.

You will be no good to her if you are exhausted and grumpy from lack of energy.

Don’t: Ask her if it hurts.

Of course it hurts, Captain Obvious. Trust us, you do not want to hear her answer to this question, as it will be filled with expletives.

Do: Ask her if she wants to be touched or hold your hand.

Some mums in labour do NOT want to be touched, and some want a deep-pressure massage or to mangle your hand while they push. Do whatever she wants.

Don’t: Moan about how you’re getting tired of rubbing her back, or gasp that she’s squeezing your hand too hard.

No offence, but she isn’t in a position to think about you right now. It’s all about her. She is just doing what she needs to do to get through this.

Do: Advocate for her.

You will have talked about what kind of birth she wants ahead of time, and if she can’t speak for herself, it’s your job to be her mouthpiece about topics like episiotomy, pain relief, and whether she wants a mirror to see the baby’s head coming out.

Don’t: Order pizza to be delivered to the birthing centre (unless it’s for the staff) or run out for a burger and fries.

She won’t feel like eating, and the smell of your food might make her vomit. Also, she will want to strangle you if you’re chowing down on a burger while she’s in labour.

Don’t: Make the “THIS IS SO GROSS” face when you see things coming out of her.

Women in labour gush amniotic fluid, vomit, wee, and even poo – it’s normal. And when the baby is born, it’s often with a gush of fluids and blood. Then the placenta comes out, which is fascinating – but bloody. Put on your game face.

Do: Tell her what is happening as the baby is being born.

This is especially important if she’s having a Caesarean or if she’s giving birth in a position where she can’t see the baby coming out. Tell her what you can see – it will encourage her to rally and keep going when she’s beyond tired.

Don’t: Invite unapproved people into the birthing room.

She’s the one giving birth, so she gets the final say over who is there to watch. This also includes postbirth – don’t you dare invite the grandparents into the room while she’s having her perineum stitched or the placenta is sitting there in plain view waiting for the midwife to check it over. Let her say when it’s time for people to come in.

Do: Tell her your baby is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.

Because even if your little guy or girl is covered in sticky yellowish-white stuff (that’s vernix) and blood, and is a bit squashed, and has a funny-shaped head, we promise that he or she will be the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.

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