When learning how to be a good labor support person, it can be overwhelming for a partner -- How will I remember everything, How will I know what to do, How can I help her? It's true that there is a lot of information to know when it comes to labor and birth. But you can rest easy knowing that providing good labor support can be as easy as remembering this acronym: DEPPS. Drink, Eat, Pee, Position, Support/Soothe. Birth partners, when mom is in labor, you officially take on the role of DEPPS Manager. Good labor support can be boiled down into five easy tips:
Drink - Staying hydrated in labor is so important. Encourage mom to drink water after every contraction so she can stay hydrated throughout labor without the use of IV fluids.
Eat - No one would run a marathon without refueling, and the same is true in birth (which is generally much longer than the average marathon!). Keep track of the last time she had something other than water. If it has been longer than 2-3 hours, offer and encourage mom to eat something, even if it's light (honey sticks, juice, apple sauce, nuts, granola). Be sure to pack your labor bag with a range of nutrition options. And yes, it IS safe to eat during labor!
Pee - Seems silly that a person would have to be reminded to pee, but a mom in labor has other things on her mind! Emptying her bladder once an hour can help labor progress -- an empty bladder makes more room for baby to come down.
Position - Changing positions frequently in labor (about once an hour) helps labor progress and allows mom to continue to find comfort in different ways. For resources on different positions to use in labor, check out this resource from Lamaze, or this guide from Penny Simkin.
Support/Soothe - This one is HUGE. Providing continuous support to a laboring woman is the key to a better birth experience. This can be done in a variety of ways, but usually includes hands-on soothing through touch and massage, and verbal encouragement (you're doing great, you're so strong, you're almost there). You can learn and practice the most effective ways to support a laboring woman by taking a quality childbirth class.