One of the main points the instructor of my birthing class emphasized was that labor is not like you see on television and in movies. The likelihood of actually going from zero to screaming in 0.2 seconds is minimal, and we’ll probably be able to breathe calmly in between contractions. Awesome! Also, partners can be involved during labor if you so desire it, since the bumbling fathers-to-be shown in birthing scenes are often exaggerations, too. I know circumstances don’t allow every father or partner to be there for the birth of a baby, but for those who can and do make it, and who are committed to supporting your partner, you have my enthusiastic thumbs-up and approving eye contact (I can’t go much bigger than that since the rest of my encouragement is reserved for your partner who's about to remove a human from her body).
While there are plenty of birthing professionals who will likely have some clear instructors for you when everything’s about to hit the fan (”Hold her leg! Count down the contraction! Stay focused!”) I wanted to offer some suggestions for the rest of the process, too. Labor can be long and hard and full of surprises (sometimes, they are even fluid-filled surprises; how about that?!) so hey, it can’t hurt to have a few key phrases stashed in your pocket, right? Here's what your partner actually wants to hear when she's in labor: