How to Provide Emotional Support During Early Labor
You don’t have to be a doula or professional labor support person to support a mom through the greatest journey of her life. What she will need more than anything is emotional support from someone she loves and trusts. The following steps will help a dad, sister, mother or friend to help support a mom during early labor.
Emotional Support During Early Labor
Assure Mom of the normalcy of her feelings, both emotional and physical. If you are unsure of what these are, take a childbirth class or read a good childbirth book before she goes into labor so you can become familiar with what she may be feeling.
Suggest to her to get some sleep or rest if she can get comfortable. Resting in early labor can help preserve energy for when she transitions into active labor. You can also suggest eating lightly and drinking during early labor.
Help her to get comfortable at home for as long as possible. It is typical that many moms want to rush into the hospital as soon as labor begins. However, this makes for a really long and unusually uncomfortable labor. Staying home allows full range of freedom including eating, drinking, walking around and doing whatever she wants to do without any restrictions.
Give her suggestions for physical comfort measures including massage, hydrotherapy, using the birthing ball or acupressure to deal with the discomfort of the contractions.
Remain close to her. Some mothers like to labor alone and others really like the comfort of knowing someone else is there with them. This often is reassuring. Stay with her unless she wants alone time. If you have to leave, make sure she knows where you are going and how long you’ll be gone before you walk out.
Do your best to validate her feelings. Make sure she knows that you support her and that what she is feeling is a normal part of the process. Many more moms would stay home longer if they knew what they were feeling was normal. If she has questions in early labor that you can’t answer, suggest that she call the doctor or nurse to gain clarity.
Talk her through the contractions, if necessary. Use visualizations or breathing techniques to see if it helps her relax.
Once again, encourage rest and relaxation. Although it may be extremely hard for her to relax during contractions, encourage her to rest between the contractions. This will help preserve her energy.
Encourage her to follow her body’ s instincts and her intuition. If she feels like walking or rocking, encourage her to do so. Let her know that nothing is strange or unusual during labor and that she should labor any way she feels is necessary to get through it.
Support her decision to go to the hospital when she feels she’s ready. Some moms feel more comfortable laboring at the hospital than at home, and others don’t go until they are 7 or 8 centimeters. You should support her decision to go whenever that may be. If a mom is not comfortable laboring at home, her labor could be hindered by fear.
Tips & Warnings
Be there for her from the beginning of her labor through the immediate postpartum period. Moms generally do better when they have constant support.
Try not to persuade her in any way based on your own experiences, fears or desires for her birth. Do remember that this is her birth experience and you should support the decisions she makes.