Your husband, or partner, will be a major source of support to you during your home birth. Despite the expertise and experience your midwife brings and the pain-management know-how your doula may provide, no one knows YOU better than your partner.

The thing is, your partner may not realize what kind of power he brings to your home birth. He might have his own reservations or fears about his ability to support you or make a difference during labor.

Let’s erase that today! Use this article to help your partner realize just how much he can do to support you during your home birth. We’ll break it down from early labor, to active labor, all the way to pushing and right through life with a newborn.

At a glance, your husband can support you during home birth by:

  • Providing you with emotional support
  • Providing you with physical support
  • Suggesting changes and new ideas
  • Advocating for your needs
  • Communicating with loved ones
  • Conveying information to and from your midwife
  • Encouraging you towards your goal
  • Maintaining your privacy
  • Picking up the loose ends so you can focus on baby

I know my husband always benefits from direct, actionable advice. It’s why when our childbirth educator recommended that he offer me lip balm during labor, he clung to it like white on rice. My lips had never been so hydrated! He loved having a concrete way to support that he couldn’t mess up.

Imagine if he’d been given even more actionable ideas? Today, you’ll learn loads of ways your husband can provide support within the realms mentioned above. So, read it now, Pin it for later, and share these ideas with your partner as your home birth approaches.

How can my husband support me during early labor?

Early labor is defined as the onset of labor up until ~3 cm of dilation. Early labor can be very long, especially in first births. During early labor, your contractions are not yet regular, and you can generally distract yourself through them.

In fact, a strong indication that early labor has ended is when your contractions start to last a full minute, occur every 4 minutes for over an hour. You may be familiar with this as the 4-1-1 in labor, and the time you are typically advised to have your midwife join the party of your home birth.

Because early labor can be very long, but isn’t yet too intense, the key to this phase should be distraction and movement if it is day time, and rest (or even sleep!) if it is nighttime.

How can my husband support me during early labor (day time!):

If your early labor starts during the day, my number one piece of advice is to rest or nap. Labor is an endurance event and starting rested will be key. So, what can your husband do during this time?

Most importantly: urge you to rest, relax, and nap

He can draw a bath, darken a room and put on music or a sound machine to help you sleep, offer a massage to help you relax and hopefully nap

While you rest your partner can:

  • De-clutter, clean and organize the house
  • Alert your midwife that things are starting
  • Contact your previously arrange childcare provider or pet care provider if applicable
  • Run out for last minute items if needed and you are comfortable with him leaving
  • Let loved ones know that things are starting if you have previously decided you want to share labor updates
  • Put a sign on the front door requesting privacy
  • Cook food or start a crock pot for the birth team and family after baby is born

If resting or napping feels impossible your partner can:

  • Suggest going on a walk or going to a place you love in nature
  • Take you out to do last minute errands if you are up to it (we actually went to the grocery store to get fresh fruit and cheese, and self-washed our dogs during my early labor! Maybe crazy? But resting was impossible for me!)
  • Put on a favorite, funny and easy to watch series to binge watch for the ultimate distraction (The Office anyone?)
  • Help you with a baking or cooking project (many women LOVE to bake during their early labors)
  • Ask you your thoughts about labor updates and come up with a plan on who contact and how if you haven’t yet
  • Start preparing your home for your home birth by putting your previously gathered supplies in an accessible place.
  • Encourage you to eat easy to digest foods like soups or smoothies. Eating and hydrating while you still can will help fuel you as labor progresses and eating becomes more difficult.
  • Download a contraction timing app so that it’s ready to go
  • Begin to time contractions as they become more painful and closer together. Make sure he doesn’t start timing too soon, it can be discouraging and make your labor feel infinitely longer. Remind him (and yourself) that this stage of labor is about distraction!
  • Discourage you from breaking out the pain-management strategies too early (ie- don’t start rhythmic, counted breathing just yet)
  • Listen to your thoughts, feelings, and concerns

How can my husband support me during early labor (night time!):

The best-case scenario: you both sleep, or at least rest, as much as possible! The better rested you both are for the marathon of your home birth, the better. To help you with this your partner can:

  • Remind you to hydrate and try to sleep
  • Help you take a bath and then get back into bed
  • Make you a cup of calming tea like chamomile or a sleepy-time blend
  • Diffuse essential oils that help with sleep

How can my husband support me in active labor and transition?

Well, if there is a “meat and potatoes” part of labor, then this is it. Active labor is the part of labor where you go from 3-7/8cm and transition is the final stretch to 10 cm. Active labor can be long, and the duration of it is filled with intense contractions.

This part of labor is when you will be utilizing your pain management strategies for home birth. At this point, your midwife will be present, and your doula will also be there to support you if you chose to hire one.

But even with the birth “professionals” present, it’s important that your husband have the mindset that he is a KEY player in your home birth. He is your life line, he knows you best and can read your non-verbal cues and signs better than anyone in the room.

Your husband should ask, “What are you thinking?” during your labor

The best piece of advice my husband and I received in our childbirth education (aside from the lip balm 😉) was for my husband to focus on asking me, “What are you thinking?”. This question is far more productive than the more obvious, “What can I do?”.

It allows your husband to get into your headspace. It allows you to be the vulnerable one and for him to be the problem-solver. It can be difficult to think about what strategies to implement or what to try next when you are actually in labor. By stating your thoughts, he can do the suggesting, advocating, or communicating with the birth team that you may need.

It may even prompt you to name feelings which can be productive for you in and of itself. My husband asked me this at one point and I blurted out how scared I felt. I didn’t even realize the fear I was holding onto. It also let everyone in the room support me in a different and more attuned way.

Prepare and discuss pain-management with your husband prior to birth

For this to be even more productive, it’s important that your husband is fully aware of all the pain-management strategies available and that you are interested in.

How can you achieve this leading up to your home birth:

  • Involve your husband in creating your birth plan
  • Include him in completing your home birth checklist
  • Complete a childbirth class together
  • Engage in thoughtful dialogue leading up to birth including pain management strategiesand everything you want to try during labor

What are some specific things he can do during active labor?

  • Tell you to mirror his breathing and help you take slower, rhythmic breaths
  • Encourage you to bring your labor sounds deeper and lower which can promote more productive contractions
  • Repeat or recite birth affirmations he knows are important to you
  • Apply counter-pressure to your hips during contractions
  • Massage your shoulders, back or feet
  • Suggest changes in positions, strategies, or even scenery
  • Remind you of strategies you wanted to try/are available to you
  • Apply lip balm
  • Offer ice chips and sips of water/coconut water/Gatorade etc.
  • Communicate your feelings to the birth team
  • Request privacy (or support) as indicated and needed
  • Repeat that you love her and she doing a great job
  • Hold her hand and hug her
  • Follow her lead when it comes to touch, how hands-on she wants you to be, and in what ways you can provide the best support. Some of this will be a guessing game because all women react differently to labor!

How can my partner support me while pushing during my home birth?

When it is time to push, home birth is a special experience because you are not limited in where or what position you prefer to push and give birth. You’ve likely prepared your bed for birth (or a pool for a water birth) and anticipate pushing there, but may want to try different positions to find what works best.

While pushing your partner can:

  • Hold your hand
  • Remind you to find a position that is comfortable and feels natural
  • Hold a mirror for you to see baby’s head
  • Help you slow your breathing if you begin to panic or breathe shallowly
  • Prepare to catch the baby
  • Tell you how productive your pushing is and that you are doing a great job
  • Remind you that baby is so close

Life with a Newborn

Once baby is born, your partner can do a lot to provide support to you in the immediate hours and days after birth. While breastfeeding feels like a full-time job, your partner can lessen your other duties by doing diaper changes, changing linens as needed, fielding phone calls, messages, and visitors.

It will be important for dad to find time and ways to bond with baby, too. As the birthing and breastfeeding mom, the bond between you and baby usually develops quickly.

Dad can be sure to get in on the action by doing skin-to-skin with baby after feedings, bonding with baby during happy awake times, helping burp baby, and making lots of eye contact and conversation with baby during diaper and outfit changes.

What are some concrete ways dad can support you after your home birth?

  • Help you get set up and keep you comfortable for feeding sessions. He can do this by bringing you water, snacks, setting up pillows, and making sure you have everything you need
  • Burp baby after feedings or between sides, especially helpful if you have a gassy or colicky baby that needs a lot of burping
  • Doing skin-to-skin with baby after feedings
  • Changing baby’s diaper, changing clothes, swaddles etc. before or after feedings as needed
  • Bringing baby to mom for feedings in the night
  • Picking up the extra household chores and duties mom cannot do while caring for a newborn
  • Communicating with family and loved ones, arranging visits with your consent, and putting off visits when you are not up to it

It’s time to talk with your partner about supporting you in your home birth

There is a lot to prepare before your birth, and preparing with your partner and helping them feel confident and ready to support YOU is an important step along the way.

Share this article with your partner and discuss the progression of birth. Use these ideas to get started. Then, create your own list of ideas and specifics that he can use to provide support through the entire birth process.

He can and should be your number one supporter, but don’t take it for granted that he knows exactly how to be that, yet anyway 😊

Have another tip to share? What was the best way your husband provided support during your birth? Please comment below! We love to hear from our readers.

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