During the birthing class my husband and I took before having our son, the instructor started all of us off by splitting us into two teams of dads and moms. She taped up two large sheets of paper on the walls on opposite ends of the classroom and first told each group to make a list answering the question, “What can dads do during labor?” And boy were the answers different for each group.
All the dads/partners put things like “Hold her hand” or “Tell her to breathe and/or push.” The moms’ answers were a little more in-depth, while some were pretty straight forward, including “Leave me alone,” and “Don’t talk to/touch me.” Others that I thought were pretty awesome included “Help me remain focused on the goal” and “Remind me why I’m doing this and help me remain calm.” I asked some other moms I know about what they thought their partners and/or baby’s dads did that were helpful, and the responses ranged all over — kinda like our chart in the birthing class – from “Leave me the h*ll alone" to “Rub my back.”
Every laboring mom is different, dads. So I would highly suggest you ask your own soon-to-be mother of your child. But perhaps some of these suggestions can help get the ball rolling and give you an idea of what to potentially expect. As for what is not helpful, my husband said, "vomiting, fainting, sleeping, eating, drinking coffee, saying, 'Hoo boy, I'm tired' or 'Stop squeezing my hand so hard.'" I mean, I was there and I agree — those things are definitely not helpful.