Role of the Labor Coach

Knowing how to comfort mom during labor can help her, and you will feel like an active participant in the birth. Below are a few tips to help you perform the role of labor coach:

  • Be calm and confident.
  • Know what to expect physically and emotionally during labor and delivery.
  • Ask questions if you are uncertain about anything.
  • Be positive, supportive and encouraging.
  • Help her to stay focused during relaxation, breathing and pushing. *Keep the room the way she wants it (i.e., temperature, lights, door open or closed, TV on or off).
  • Speak softly, touch gently and move slowly.
  • Keep communication lines open with her.
  • Identify mom’s needs during labor. You are aware of her strengths and weaknesses and can help her cope.
  • Communicate for mom with the nursing staff. You are aware of her needs. Be flexible and open to alternatives if needed.
  • Don’t become discouraged or give up if mom does not respond to your attempts to help her. Take a deep breath, relax and try again. It is not easy to be a coach.

It is easy for mom to become tense during labor without even knowing it. An important part of a labor coach’s role is to help with relaxation. When relaxed, muscles are soft and heavy, joints loosen and arms and legs move easily from side to side. If mom is tense, the coach can:

  • Massage. Say to mom with your hands, “I care about you. I want to help you be more comfortable.”
  • Have mom take a deep sigh to help release tension.
  • Have mom tense a body part (such as her fist) and then help her slowly relax its muscles to give feedback of tension/no tension from the different muscle groups in her body.

Breathing techniques and guided imagery will help maintain relaxation during contractions. If the contractions cause tension, focus on helping mom relax from head to toe between contractions so she is prepared for the next one.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I am called upon to make a decision during labor?

  • Relax and clear your mind.
  • Think about the facts of the problem.
  • Review the alternatives. Ask for more information if needed.
  • Discuss with mom if possible.
  • Make the best decision you can with the information and choices available to you.

What do I do if mom becomes discouraged?

Discouragement can happen anytime throughout labor. You can help keep a positive attitude by reminding mom:

  • You want to be with her and she is doing the best job she can
  • To take one contraction at a time instead of focusing on the entire labor
  • Strong contractions are good and they help open the cervix
  • Soon she will be holding her baby

What do I do if mom panics?

Panic can happen anytime during labor; however, it is more likely when mom is tired and contractions are becoming more intense. Recognize these signs: restlessness, inability to concentrate, moaning or crying out, thrashing in bed or holding her breath. To help mom gain control:

  • Call her by name.
  • Stand up next to her.
  • Bring your face close to her. Get eye contact. Become her focal point.
  • Say, “I am here, and I can help.”
  • Use a firm tone of voice, giving very specific directions.
  • Do the breathing with her.
  • Get help from the nurse.

For more information on childbirth education classes offered at Saint Francis, click here.