What To Say To Help A Woman Through Labor

Childbirth isn't easy regardless, but some women experience particularly awful births. Whether it's things not going to plan, emergency situations, unexpected interventions, or even a traumatic surgery; a bad labor can be unbelievably difficult for the women who are forced to endure them. Still, those birth stories are still those women's to own, so I asked a few brave moms to share the one thing someone said that helped them through a difficult labor and delivery. When faced with the seemingly impossible, a kind phrase, supportive comment, or wise word can make all the difference.

My birth experience was nothing like I thought it would be. My pregnancy fantasies about birth involved me perched on a birthing ball, listening to whale songs and breathing serenely through the pain while my loving partner rubbed my back and told me I was a goddess. My birth reality? Well, I threw up in the hospital corridor, had a botched epidural, watched in horror as my husband was sent home with a debilitating migraine, and endured 48 hours of labor that ended with an emergency delivery. In other words, it was not the stuff of dreams.

Still, the people around me got me through (especially my birth coach, who just so happened to be my amazing mom) said some very supportive and hilarious things. For example, there was the hilarious moment when my mom forgot how to count during a big contraction and excitedly screamed, "One, two three, 4, 11, 12, nine, yay, you can do it!" Then, of course, there were the moments in those wee night hours when she said, "Tomorrow morning, you'll be a mom." So, with that in mind and because we can all use some happy these days, here are just a few of the inspiring, hilarious, or just downright supportive things people said to women going through particularly trying labors and deliveries.


"I was really struggling to get through my contractions and wanted an epidural when I arrived at the hospital and dilated 6 cm. However, when my midwife arrived and coached me through contractions, telling me to 'ride the wave' it really helped, I decided to forgo the epidural. I don't know if it was the phrase or the calm presence she brought, but it really helped me get through labor."


"As I was prepped for an emergency c-section, my husband gripped my hand and said, 'Anyway this happens, you are my hero.' It made me dissolve in tears but I have never forgotten those words. They really got me through."


"My doula told me I looked like a goddess during a contraction. She took a photo of me on my phone and showed me. It was amazing, because I really did look like a warrior. It gave me strength and made me feel proud."


"When I went to the hospital with my first, I had been contracting for more than 12 hours already. By the time I arrived I was having very powerful contractions less than two minutes apart. The labor and delivery nurses were, by and large, pretty surly. Except one.

She wasn't even assigned to me, but she came up to me in the hallway before my room was set and said, 'Look at you! You're managing so well. You're so strong.' She was so soft-spoken and sweet. Years later, when I was having my second, my midwife told me that she thought women need someone to be in awe of them when they're in labor. My mind instantly went back to that lovely nurse."


"Everything I feared about birth happened for me. I was too late for an epidural, I pooped in front of everyone, I threw up on a nurse, and I ended up with third degree tearing. In the middle of it I wanted to give up, and said as much. My mom held me and said quite firmly said she didn't raise a quitter. It was like a verbal slap round the face and I pulled myself together."


"Our baby was premature and I cried almost the entire birth. I was so scared we would lose her. My midwife kept saying, 'All will be well.' It sounds a bit dismissive now, as it was really touch and go, but it became like a mantra for me. I just kept repeating it over and over and, as it turned out, all was well."


"I had the year from hell before getting pregnant. I had been in a really bad car wreck and needed intensive physical therapy to walk again. I lost my job, had to go through a court case, and found out my partner was terminally ill.

Hours into labor, I was in agony and screaming that I couldn't do it. My best friend grabbed my face and screamed at me, 'After everything you have been through, this is nothing! You have this.' She was right and an hour later my beautiful daughter was born."


"My labor and delivery nurse was into visualization, so she told me to think of the building contractions as hiking up a tall mountain. Then, when it was time to push, she told me I was jumping off the mountain into a free fall.

As an avid adventure sports nut this technique really appealed to me and took my mind of the pain."


"My partner kept calling me 'Mommy' throughout the birth. Some of my friends thought it was weird and creepy when I told them afterwards, but it made me focus on why I was in pain: to become a mom."


"My sister was with me the whole birth. She kept saying the names of women in our lives who are mothers and basically saying, 'If they can do it so can you.' She then moved onto celebrities and the whole thing turned into a big joke. It really helped lighten the mood."


"My nurse was amazing, She gave me so much information, explained everything really well, and made me feel in control. She also gave me loads of compliments and while I am sure she says the same thing to everyone, it made me feel amazing when she said, 'You're the strongest laboring woman I've ever seen.' I told everyone she said that!"