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Top 10 Things to Avoid During Labor (Suggestions for Both Mothers and Fathers to Be)

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What not to do during labor: A guide for moms and dads

What not to do during labor: A guide for moms and dads

Mom's Do's and Don'ts:

Labor can tough, here are some suggestions for moms to ease the pain.

1. Eating greasy or heavy foods

Labor is like running a marathon. Early on, it is important for you to eat lightly and keep hydrated. Keep in mind that digestion is greatly slowed during labor and whatever you eat hangs around longer and is more likely to come back up. Heavy and greasy foods are more difficult for your body to digest; and, in my opinion, more traumatic coming back up! Laboring mothers will lose their appetite as labor becomes more active. This is ok; listen to your body. During the active phase drinking beverages with electrolytes, like sports drinks, should suffice to keep you hydrated and provide some energy.

Some snack ideas include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Fruit
  • Popsicles
  • Granola
  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Yogurt
  • Low sugar sports drink

2. Over Exerting Yourself

The truth is you can not walk yourself into labor. Being upright and frequently changing positions helps with comfort and in promoting better positioning of the baby, which can, in turn, help speed things up. But, periods of rest are equally important. During early labor, contractions are mild in comparison to what they will be in active labor. I know this sounds unbelievable, but it's true.

It is implausible to stay up for days dealing with the pain of labor and not lose it. Therefore, it is very important to rest your mind. So rest early on is the key to survival. Some women worry that inactivity will slow the process down, or stop labor. The fact of the matter is that once you are truly in labor, inactivity will not affect the progress.

What You Can Do to Help

Don't think that while you are resting that there is nothing you can do to help things along. Sleeping in different positions promotes proper positioning of the baby. There is plenty you can do during Early Labor to promote progress. So if you are sleeping, try alternating from far right to far left every hour. You can even lay on your back with a tilt to either side as well, try adding a peanut ball for additional positions.

If you are not able to sleep, try relaxing activities such as showering, bathing, or listening to relaxing music while rocking in a rocking chair in order to conserve your energy.

3. Fighting the Process

Labor and Childbirth is something your body is made to do. In some cases a cesarean is needed, but if you do not know for certain that this is the case for you, why not try to give yourself the best chance at a successful vaginal delivery. A few things you can do to promote this process include; trying various positions, pay attention to the cues your body gives you, and keep your muscles relaxed during contractions.

Assist the Process

  • Positions not only aide in your comfort, but also encourage proper positioning of the baby for delivery. Try sticking with each new position for at least 30 minutes or so. Even if you have found one particular position that is the most comfortable, it is still important to make position changes occasionally to keep the progress going.
  • In labor you will get cues from your body; pay attention to them. If after giving a new position 5 contractions it still just doesn't feel right, change positions. If you feel like you need to rest, rest. If you feel like touch or massage will help you get through things, ask. If you feel an overwhelming urge to do something, do it. Just remember to remain confident in your ability to do this and keep in control.
  • Relaxation in labor is another great way to avoid fighting the process. Your natural response to contractions will be to tense up and arch your back away from the pressure on your cervix, back and pelvis as the contractions push the baby down into the birth canal. Doing so pulls the baby away from the cervix and makes it more difficult for the baby to descend into your pelvis, therefore prolonging the process.
  • Remind yourself, or have your partner remind you to relax each muscle, remain loose and let the baby push down and out. Don't Fight It! Leaning forward over your belly and keeping feet shoulder-width apart can also help. You may find certain positions or bathing enable you to relax better than others. Rhythmic rocking, swaying and breathing also promote relaxation. It is important to take and deal with each contraction one at a time. Completely relax between contractions. Loosen every muscle and let go of all that tension or you soon find that they are piling up on each other and you'll start to lose your control.

Labor Breathing Techniques by

Breathing Techniques

4. Hyperventilating

Over-breathing or breathing too rapidly can sometimes cause dizziness, numbness and tingling of the hands, feet, and/or face, and even fainting. If you are planning on taking child birth classes, different types of breathing will be discussed. If not, check out the provided video and link to learn more. The breathing technique you want to master is abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing. This type of breathing is beneficial because it helps with relaxation and stress relief, it oxygenates deep tissues, and strengthens the diaphragm. Labor is both a mental and physical challenge. Proper breathing helps you face this challenge head on, is a way to manage stress, provides optimal oxygenation for both you and your baby, and prepares the diaphragm for pushing out a baby.

Proper Vocalization

5. Screaming

Making noise during labor and delivery is normal and encouraged. Low guttural noises and moaning directs the pressure you are exerting to your diaphragm and helps you to continue progress. Screaming on the other hand usually takes place when a women is becoming overwhelmed and losing control during the process. Screaming irritates your vocal cords and causes you to release the diaphragmatic pressure from up above as opposed to directing it downwards. For example, if you are at the point where you are pushing but are screaming instead, you are releasing your pushing force through your mouth and have less effective pushes. Not the position you want to be in. And why would you want to prolong this obviously painful process?

Another thing to consider is that you the birth of your child should be a peasant experience. Most mothers opting for a natural childbirth want to bring their babies in to a non-traumatic environment... Low lighting, less people, and I'd say low sound. Your baby has been listening to the muffled sounds of your voice and heartbeat since it could hear. Imagine how distressing screaming must be from both the inside and out. Also, screaming indicates that something is wrong and would probably result in more people attending your delivery. Remember ladies there isn't a different prize you receive at delivery for having an unmedicated childbirth. You will get the same baby, I promise. If labor turns out to be way more intense than you can or want to handle, there are options. This does not necessarily mean epidural there are different alternative, inhalable, intravenous, or intramuscular medications that are safe and effective.

Dad's Don'ts:

It's highly important that dads are properly supportive during this time period.

6. Getting Frustrated or Defensive with Mom's Short Temper

Keep in mind that Labor is a long and exhausting mental and physical challenge. Most women will reach a point during labor that both her manners and her kind or nurturing spirit go on sabbatical. If she yells, snaps, or even swears at you don't take it personally. Don't respond to her outbursts by shutting down and avoiding her. This is when she needs you the most. Whatever you had been doing earlier in labor that seemed to be working, such as massage, counter pressure, fanning her etc... can sometimes suddenly turn into an annoyance. Some moms are able to carry on regular conversation between contractions but need immediate silence once a contraction starts. Sometimes visitors become a distraction and may need to be asked to leave. Just try your best to pay attention to her needs and anticipate them as best as you can. Continue to be a positive and present support person no matter what she puts you through. Keep in perspective how much she is going through and has been going through for the last 9 months.

7. Deny Mom Pain Medication if She Truly Wants It

I am sure that the two of you have thoroughly discussed plans for pain management. Some mothers-to-be instruct their significant other not to let them get an epidural or pain medication no matter how much they beg or plead. I do not think this is a smart plan, especially for first time parents. With your first child you have no idea what to expect or how long the process is going to take. The best way to head into this journey is with an open mind and flexibility to adapt to any of the things that can happen. If an unmedicated birth is your goal everyone will be fully supportive of your decision. Most women get to a point where they say "I can't do it." or "I need drugs." If you are at that point and you are in transition (8cm or greater) it is okay to provide positive encouragement and rienforcement and try and avoid the medication. Now, if you are at that point where you feel like you "can't do it" and "can't handle the pain any longer" yet you are only 3 centimeters, that is a different story. Consider making a more flexible plan with your support person, for example; agree that your support person should dissuade you from any intervention the first three times that you seriously ask for something. If you ask a fourth time, bring in the health professionals to discuss pain relief options with you. There are intravenous or intramuscular medications that can just take the edge off and give you a break so that you can rebuild your strength to cope with the remaining hours of labor to come, and there is the Epidural. Another idea is to have a safe word. That would be a word or phrase that your significant other knows and takes very seriously. You can beg and plead for pain medication as much as you want but they know to dissuade or deny you medication unless you use the safe word.

8. Put Yourself in a Situation Where You Become the Patient

Dad's, know your boundaries or limitations. If you aren't someone who handles blood or needles well, either do not look or step out during procedures involving such things. Mom's are already dealing with enough including the pain of labor, worrying about the baby, and the uncertainty and lack of control of it all just for a start. Please do not add to their worries by placing yourself in the position where you might or actually faint. Imagine fainting and having to be sent to the Emergency Room to get stitches in a gash in your head and missing the delivery... It has happened! Also, remember to eat and drink. It is not a good idea to stop eating just because mom's aren't allowed to eat. Mom's are hooked up to IV's and are being well managed. It is your responsibility to take care of yourself.

9. Tell Mom She Is Pooping During Pushing

Many moms-to-be are very nervous about passing stool during pushing. The truth of the matter is that if there is any stool in the colon as the baby is moving through the birth canal, good pushing efforts will move the baby down and the baby's head will cause any stool that is in the way to be passed. So "pooping" is actually a good sign. Either way you do not need to point it out to mom's. They have already had to let go of all modesty and expose their privates to strangers. Last thing you want to do is embarrass them by pointing out something that they have no control over.

10. Ask the Doctor to Put In an Extra Stitch For You

Really stop and think about this one... It is so wrong for so many reasons. Not only is it embarrassing for both you and mom, but it is also insulting. This is embarrassing and insulting to mom's who have just worked so hard to deliver your prescious cargo. It implys that she is too loose for you, or that you consider her vagina ruined by the birth of your child. Have faith in women's amazing design and ability to heal.. .please keep that comment to yourself! Also, you may not have thought about this either; it is quite embarrassing for you as well because it implies that you are too small for a normal vagina. One of the best responses, by a Doctor, that I have ever heard to this rude request by dad was: "Sure why don't you show me what you have so I know how small I need to make it."

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Amanda S


Amanda S (author) from CA on May 04, 2019:

Thank you everyone for your positive feedback.

Moer on May 03, 2019:

This is awesome

Audrey Lancho from Spain on June 06, 2018:

I love this!

Shocked on December 14, 2016:

Can't believe a father would suggest additional stitches in this day and age!

Eslam yosef from Egypt on December 18, 2014:

great informative hub Amanda,

vote up,

the 20th Useful,

6 th hub follow,

author follow,

keep up :),


Jessica on August 28, 2014:

I am never going to have children.

Amanda S (author) from CA on November 02, 2012:

@ Chewy Mommy. So glad you liked it. Thanks for the comment.

Chewy Mommy on November 02, 2012:

Good article! And the Dad section was a great addition :-)

micheaelsteyn from Neutral Bay on September 28, 2012:

Thanks for the tips .the real pain will be on dad side how emotionally he got attached to the baby for first 9 months and after that ....its UN-expressable

Amanda S (author) from CA on April 26, 2012:

@ youngmom1986 thank you. An exactly, after 9 months of pregnancy, hours of grueling labor an pushing... Probably not the appropriate moment to comment on a mothers vagina size. Glad you enjoyed and welcome to Hubpages.

youngmom1986 from Arkansas on April 26, 2012:

Great points! I love the dad sections, I know some guys that would ask for the extra stitch to be funny, but a women is very hormonal at this time and might not take it as a joke.