Your Partner's Role During Labor

Witnessing the woman he loves in the middle of intense and painful contractions may be a very new experience for your partner. It is a natural response to want to take the pain away, to make it better for those we love and cherish. Sometimes a partner will feel afraid or guilty that he cannot share the pain. You must address these feelings before labor, so that they do not inhibit your coping abilities or distract your energy.

Reading this chapter together can help you develop a pattern for relating during labor that does not inhibit your ability to cope with pain. It helps to establish realistic expectations of each other and to open channels for communicating your needs. You need to be supported and encouraged to deal with contractions during active labor and not protected from normal pain.

You will find your energy diverted if your partner is so uncomfortable with your expressions of pain that instead of encouraging you, he only wants to stop your pain. This often happens when a partner takes on too much responsibility for his part in the process. First-time fathers often feel helpless when they expect more of themselves than is possible. A husband's job is to comfort and encourage, not to make the pain go away. It is a mistake for either of you to expect that your partner knows any more about labor than you do, or that he can lessen your pain or protect you from all intrusions -- medical or otherwise. Neither of you should expect this to be his role.

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