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March 18, 2024

How Your Partner Can Support You During Pregnancy and Birth

Discover effective ways for your partner to support you during pregnancy and labor and explore partner-friendly prenatal yoga positions for laboring together.

Many pregnant folks wish to receive help from their partner during pregnancy and birth but are unsure exactly what support they can expect to receive and how they wish to be supported. Here we explain some different ways you can receive help from your partner during pregnancy and birth (cesarean and vaginal)! 


Be clear about what support you wish to receive from your partner

Our first recommendation is that you be clear with your partner that you want their support and explain some of the ways they can offer it. You may find it useful to discuss the following points with them.


First of all, what do you expect of your partner? Do you want them to be very hands-on and involved during labor and pregnancy? For example, do you want them to be present during labor or would you prefer space and perhaps have the support of a doula, mother, sister, or friend instead?

I strongly advise that expectant partners take some time to also discuss the emotional side of labor. 

One partner may become very withdrawn or feel the need to find control when feeling out of control within the situation. Seeing their partner in pain may make them feel vulnerable or even angry at that vulnerability. To be the best support person for a laboring person, there needs to be an understanding of the emotional dynamic and the natural give and take of the relationship.

This also goes for pregnancy too!


What fears and concerns do each of you have surrounding labor and birth? Fear can slow labor down or even bring it to a halt. If your partner knows what fears may come up, they will be better equipped to respond to it and support you.


Practice your coping skills. It is easy to talk about coping skills when you are comfortable and relaxed. But there is value in practicing these skills when safely uncomfortable in a challenging yoga pose for example. For one, it can give your partner a chance to see you working through safe sensations and learning how to best support you. 

One father I worked with told me it was hard to see his wife become so primal and animalistic as she moaned and swayed her body around. Because of his discomfort, he was unsure of how to respond to his partner’s needs.

Tell your partner what helps to calm you during labor

Is it looking at one another? Can the partner tell the laboring person a story, or maybe just hold them? Discover how your partner can help to calm you during labor.

Partner support during pregnancy

There are numerous ways your partner can help and support you during pregnancy. Again, it comes down to the kind of help you want from your partner. Here are some ideas for how you can involve them more during your pregnancy.

Discuss the kind of care you wish to receive during pregnancy

Do you want your partner to cook for you and take a bigger share of the household chores? Or would you prefer they helped you in other ways? It can sometimes be challenging opening up a conversation around this topic but try to be as clear and transparent as you can so you can get the support you need.

Attend prenatal appointments together

You may want to bring your partner with you to prenatal appointments. This will help them to understand how your pregnancy is progressing and understand any health problems you may be experiencing related to pregnancy. Many couples particularly like to attend scans together and share that moment of seeing the baby for the first time. 

Partner Massage

If you thought that partner massage was just for labor, then think again! Many expectant parents find partner massage during pregnancy to be an opportunity to bond and connect with one another. It is also great for the pregnant partner who may be experiencing some physical discomfort.

Attend a birth class for couples

Attending a birth class for couples can be an excellent way to help your partner understand more about labor and birth. It also provides an opportunity to think about and practice how your partner can support you during labor.

Partner support during labor

We have already briefly touched upon some of the ways your partner can help you during labor and birth but let’s discuss some other methods of support that you may find helpful. 

Your partner can advocate for you

During labor, if unexpected challenges arise, your partner may be able to advocate for you. This simply means that they can speak to your birth team (midwife, OBGYN, etc.) on your behalf to ensure that they follow your wishes and decisions. Occasionally, some care providers may feel compelled to override your wishes if they believe it goes against their medical advice but your partner can help to ensure that this does not happen.

They can help look after your physical and emotional needs

Most importantly, your partner can be a great help in looking after your physical and emotional needs. This can be something as simple as ensuring you have lip balm or more emotional-based support such as providing reassurance should you feel teary.

They can also help you with:

  • Providing you with water and ice chips
  • Massaging your lower back to bring pain relief
  • Providing snacks
  • Reminding you to pee once an hour
  • Quietening down the space
  • Provide affection and physical and emotional support

Your partner can help you practice prenatal yoga positions for labor

Did you know that there are a variety of different prenatal yoga positions you can practice with your partner to help ease labor? What’s more, practicing laboring positions with your loved one can be a great way to stimulate oxytocin, a hormone that is essential for labor progression.

Watch the short video below and practice these poses with your partner!

Some yoga poses that I recommend include the following:

Rocking squat: Whenever I introduce this one in a prenatal yoga class, the students love it! The gentle rocking motion can feel very relaxing, and it’s an accessible way to squat since your partner takes a lot of your weight.

Slow dance: When you feel safe and connected to your loved one, your oxytocin levels rise. Slow dancing not only offers that intimacy of connection but also helps you find rhythm and movement which can help move labor along.

Dangle: This pose helps you relax and release your body while staying upright and utilizing gravity to help your baby descend further into your pelvis.

Double hip squeeze: This can help release pressure and pain in the lower back and can be done during a contraction in a variety of positions; all 4’s, sitting on a birth ball and leaning over another surface, or even standing. The partner takes their hands to the sides of the pelvis (the ilium) and squeezes inward the hips.

Sacral press: Some people find having pressure directly on the sacrum can also help alleviate back pain. (As a doula, I used to apply a hot water bottle to the sacrum for pressure and heat)!

Shaking the apples: A lot of people find that they clench and tighten their butt and pelvic floor during contractions. This vigorous shaking helps release that unwanted tension. To do this, your partner will place their hands on either the inner and outer or front and back of your thighs and give them a good shake!

Partner support during a c-section

If you have decided to opt for an elective c-section and are thinking that most of what we have discussed in this blog post doesn’t apply to you, then keep reading as I am about to explain exactly how your partner can support you during a c-section. 

Helping you to prepare for your c-section

Having a c-section may cause a lot of anxiety and you may not feel like doing much the day before your surgery. As such, your partner can do any household chores that need to be done so you can just focus on looking after yourself and getting plenty of rest. They can also make sure you are well-fed the day before so that you are better prepared for fasting the following day.

Support during the procedure

Your partner can give you a great deal of reassurance and emotional support during the c-section operation. This could be holding your hand, looking into your eyes, or giving verbal reassurance. 

What’s more, you may find that they can help you to have that first skin-to-skin contact by helping you to hold the baby. Or can even help provide that skin-to-skin contact themselves if you are unable to give it. 

After the procedure, your partner can help with dressing and changing the baby as well as help you to breastfeed so you can focus on recovering.

Childbirth Preparation Course for partners!

If you would like more information about how you and your partner can prepare for birth, then we recommend you sign up to our Childbirth Preparation Course.

This course is designed to prepare you and your partner to labor and deliver in a manner that suits you best, offering a well-rounded and pragmatic approach to childbirth education.

Click the button below to learn more!


Is it safe for my partner and I to have sex in early labor?

Some studies have shown that intimacy can be an effective way to induce labor as it increases oxytocin levels and semen contains prostaglandins which can soften the cervix. This is only advised if your waters are still intact and there isn’t any bleeding. Some couples find kissing and cuddling during labor can also help keep the oxytocin flowing and labor progressing! 

Can my partner stay with me overnight in the hospital after giving birth?

This completely depends on the rules and regulations of the hospital but most hospitals are happy for the birthing partner to stay the night to offer extra support.

Can my partner help with my positioning during birth and delivery?

Yes. Your partner can be a great source of support! They can help to hold your leg if you choose to birth on your side or you can lean on them if you choose to squat to give birth. 




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