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The Labor Partner's Role

Allison Hutton


The role of your labor partner is not easily defined. He or she can be many things to a woman in labor, including friend, listener, go-between, gopher, support person, and coach-to name a few. If you attend any type of childbirth preparation course, his or her role may become more clearly defined as time goes on.

The story of my labor partner is a rather humorous one. My labor partner was my husband, Dan. I had been stuck in early labor for weeks, having constant contractions every 5-7 minutes. So, Dan quickly became numb to the words "honey, I'm having a contraction." It really didn't mean much at the time. We figured that if I could speak those words, then the contractions weren't bad enough to warrant immediate action. I must say that, at no time during my pregnancy, did I attend any type of childbirth class. I had every intention of getting an epidural, and not needing to "work" through labor. Needless to say, the epidural didn't work, and I did.

Once the pitocin was started, the nurse began asking if I had any type of childbirth preparation. I was embarrassed to answer "no." She quickly reassured me, and instructed Dan and I on the importance of breathing through contractions. She even worked with Dan to show him ways in which to coach me during labor. Once the full-fledged contractions began, Dan jumped into his "coaching" role, and I jumped into the role of psychopath. He was very patient, comforting, and frankly, bossy. Maybe he wasn't as bossy as I remember him to be, but I was a bit edgy.

One thing I distinctly remember is NOT breathing through a rough contraction. After all, it is some sort of reflexive action to hold your breath during extreme painor something like that. I read it somewhere once. Anyhow, I also remember my husband just inches away from my face, chanting "hee hee hoo.hee hee hoo." He needed a Tic Tac, and I needed him out of my face. It is funny to look back and remember how I grabbed his shirt around the neck, and told him to get out of my face, and get me something for pain. That was the first time my husband really ever feared me. He knew I meant business. But, he did his job, and got me through-the best way he knew how.

So remember a few things when taking on a labor partner; things don't always go according to plan, contractions hurt, well-meaning support may be shunned, and Tic Tac's are always good to have handy. As a labor partner, do what feels right in the moment, and listen to mom's cues. It'll be over before you know it, and you may just have a funny story or two to share!

My name is Allison Hutton. I was recently introduced to the Baby Corner by Elizabeth Geiger, and have found it to be a wonderful resource for those trying to conceive, those who are expecting, and those who are already parents. I am a stay at home Mom to my beautiful daughter, Hannah, and wife to my wonderful husband, Daniel. After a long journey battling recurrent pregnancy loss, we welcomed our daughter into the world on St. Patrick's Day, 1999. Motherhood has been the most challenging, exhausting, and rewarding job I have ever had! In my "spare" time, I enjoy freelance writing about issues dealing with pregnancy, parenting, infertility, and women's health. I hope to provide some insight to pregnancy, as well as information that can be difficult to find on the web. I look forward to becoming a part of the Baby Corner, and hope to make a difference, no matter how small.

Allison is a contributing editor for The Baby Corner as well Editor of Pregnancy after Miscarriage at Suite 101.

Visit her webpage at

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