What it is:
During labor, the labor support ensures the mother she is doing well, and encourages her to continue what she is already doing.
How it works:
Three little words, "You're doing great," can give a woman the extra strength she needs to make it through a difficult part of labor. During active labor, the mother may not realize how far she has progressed. She is literally taking her labor one contraction at a time, and unlike those supporting her, she may not see it as one contraction closer to the birth. She may not even recognize that she has a significant portion of her labor behind her.
That is one of the reasons continuous labor support is so important. The labor support becomes the mother's "eyes and ears," watching what is happening and letting the mother know where she is. Comments such as "I can't do this!" can be calmed by responses such as, "but you are doing this, and you're doing great." Suddenly, the mother may have a new found confidence to continue.
How to do it:
Transition is a time of confusion for a mother. She cannot get comfortable, she does not seem to know what to do, she may not even remember that she is in labor for a baby. It is at this point that the reassuring words of her labor partners can help a woman most. She may need to be reminded how close she is to pushing, and to holding her baby. She may also need to be reminded what to do. She may not remember what was said for more than a few seconds, so repeat yourself without getting frustrated. Looks of panic on the mother can be responded to with, "I'm right here, we're almost done."
There are no magic words of encouragement that will help every mother. The words you choose depend on who she is, and what your relationship is to her. In some instances, "I love you" will be very reassuring. In other cases, "You're doing perfect, it's beautiful to watch you." will reassure her. As her labor support, you should know the mother well enough to know what will relax and reassure her. Here are some sample phrases:
The baby is moving down, the baby will be here soon.
The baby is trying to come out. You are helping her come out.
The stronger it feels, the better it works.
You are dong so well, I'm so proud of you.
Your body is working perfectly. Everything is working perfectly.
The nurse said you were doing great. You ARE doing great.
Incorporating it into labor:
You may try repeating an encouraging phrase several times. Encouraging words said to the mother during a contraction can give her something to focus on, while reassuring her that what is happening is normal.
Select an encuraging phrase or two to write on index cards. Place these around the labor room for the mother to focus on while she labors.
Incorporate an encouraging phrase into her labor ritual, perhaps welcoming each contraction with a phrase such as, "Let's do this together," or ending each contraction with a phrase such as, "One more contraction closer to the bby."