A baby book is shown with two pink socks and a positive pregnancy test stick.
Want to be especially helpful to an expectant mom leading up to labor and delivery? Familiarize yourself with her birth plan so you can help see it through. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

We focus quite a bit on moms during pregnancy—and rightfully so.

Mom, after all, is the one who endures all those fun symptoms of pregnancy. She’s carrying the baby, her body is changing. She has to go through labor and delivery.

It’s an experience full of rewards, although quite challenging at times, too.

But dads also have an important role.

During pregnancy, a dad or any other important supporter of an expectant mom can encourage healthy eating, exercise alongside mom and listen to mom talk about the emotional changes happening during pregnancy.

Dads can talk to moms about their hopes, fears and early parenting decisions.

With mom growing increasingly tired as a tiny human grows inside her, dad can be a big help by tackling tasks around the house.

Dads and mom’s other key supporters can help in many different ways at labor and delivery.

Top 6 suggestions:

1. Take a childbirth class

Not only do these classes help you know what to expect, you also learn about your options and you get a chance to ask questions. There are many virtual options for classes so you can learn while in the comfort of your own home.

2. Provide reminders

There’s a lot going on at delivery time and it can be difficult for moms to keep track of it all. Dads and others can remind mom to change positions every hour.

As the labor process begins, you can remind mom by asking what she would like to do. Ask: “Let’s get you in a different position. What would you like?”

As labor progresses, mom is more likely to become internally focused. This means you’ll have better results if you ask her only open-ended questions that require a yes or no: “Would you like to use the tub? Want to slow dance? Want to use the ball for hands and knees?” Continue on until you hit the “yes” answers.

3. Be encouraging

Just hearing dad’s voice can be an encouragement to mom as she copes with the contractions. It can help her push on.

Tell her you love her. Tell her how proud of her you are. Tell her how well she’s doing and more. You should also know her birth plan, so that you can help her follow the direction she has planned for labor.

4. Help with relaxation

By relaxing, mom can make it through labor in a shorter time. Dads and supporters can encourage mom to relax by giving her a massage, turning on some music, using aromatherapy, reading a script for relaxation or a visualization. Offer her water, a light snack or other helpful things.

5. Be her advocate

This is something we spend a bit of time on in our evidence-based childbirth class. Being an advocate includes learning what options are available and knowing how to ask for these things.

6. Hire a doula

Doulas don’t take the place of your support person, but they can make a difference by bringing their knowledge of labor.

Doulas can help reduce the rate of C-sections. Moms use less pain medication and breastfeed easier with help from a doula, and they’re overall happier with their birth. Moms with doulas may also experience shorter labor.