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Hot Labor Tips for Queer Partners

Updated: Mar 15

Maybe you are thinking that you are a fantastic partner and you don't need help. You know that support during labor is crucial for the birthing person's well-being and overall birth satisfaction. You know how to show up. Clearly you care or you wouldn't be reading this article. (I know queer partners are incredible, I've got one!) However, without some training and experience, you are apt to make some labor faux pas. Here are some ways to avoid being THAT GUY in labor.


queer couple embraces after birth of their child in hospital in chicago

Emotional & Physical Support

Stay calm, reassuring, and positive. Sometimes birthing people experience doubt, and I've seen partners begin to waver in the face of that doubt. You want to respect your person's autonomy and consent, so they yell "I CAN'T" and you start figuring out how to build them a way out. Sometimes people just say stuff in labor. Encourage them, provide words of affirmation, and remind them of their strength. Offer physical comfort through touch, massage, or simply holding their hand. Help them change positions, walk around, or use comfort measures such as a birth ball or warm compresses. Make strong eye contact so that they know you've got them.


Advocacy

Before the birth, make a note on your phone with relevant information about the birthing person: current medications, concerns, pregnancy notes. Figure out what is most important to you both. Are you prioritizing staff getting pronouns correct? Making sure no one announces the sex of your baby? Just hoping for the best care possible? Reflect on your relationship to people-pleasing, especially if you were socialized in childhood as a girl. Educate yourself about the birthing process and different labor techniques and hire a doula so that you can make informed decisions.


Continuous Presence

Staying present, especially when your phone is literally vibrating with your community's excitement, can be difficult. You might feel pressure to keep others in the loop about what is going on in labor. It is ok to go dark! Your priority is having the baby, then there will be plenty of time to share and celebrate with friends and chosen family. It is not enough to just stay with the birthing person, you also need to be mentally with them. Just your full attention can provide a sense of security and comfort. Silently offer a sip of water after every second or third contraction.


Things to avoid

  • Asking long complication sentences. Instead of, "Do you want water or juice or maybe a popsicle?" try, "Do you want juice?"

  • Saying, "Relax" or "Breathe!" Instead, learn some labor affirmations that feel good to your partner and be ready to say them in your own words.

  • Asking, "Are you ok?" No, they are not ok. They are in labor and it's hard and painful, but they can do it.


Remember that it is ok to just be silent and close by. That can be enough. As long as you are tuned into your partner, they will feel seen and supported. You are literally the most important comfort measure during labor!

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