When I teach childbirth classes and meet with my doula clients, the number one thing that most partners want to know is how they can help.
The good news: You can help.
The bad news: Help in labor doesn’t always look how you think it looks.
For labor support, it’s less about what you do and more about how you are.
What does that even mean, “how you are?”
Well, are you tense, stressed, and/or worried? Or are you calm, loving, present, and supportive? If you were in labor, which energy would you rather have in the room?
That’s a rhetorical question. We all know the answer.
But calm, loving, present, and supportive can be done masterfully without, like, dooooing much of anything, maybe just resting your hand on the birthing persons back or leg. In fact, someone recently did a study about how the touch of a loving partner actually reduced pain (https://www.sciencealert.com/holding-hands-sync-brainwaves-eases-pain).
If you’re the kind of person that thinks helping equals a lot of doing (hint: this is a pretty common belief among cisgender men) then you’re more likely to feel helpless during the process. But if you can adjust your perception to include “holding space” as something that you are “doing” you will not feel helpless even if your body is largely holding still.
If you don’t know much about the concept of “holding space”, this article (https://birthingfromwithin.com/doulas-gift/) will demonstrate how a midwife or doula can “hold space” simply by knitting in the corner. This article (https://medium.com/@angrytherapist/what-does-it-mean-look-like-to-hold-space-for-someone-5feb78134caf) explains “holding space” in the context of a relationship, but it totally works for labor (and can be great to learn for the postpartum period, and really, for the rest of your relationship and your life).
If you had someone who held space for you during your labor, tell me your story! Let me know what that support looked like and how it felt for you?