Sustaining Energy During Labor: 4 Tips for Doulas and Partners


One of the most important things about providing support for a laboring woman, whether it’s your partner or client is knowing how to sustain your own energy. When I first started out 14 years ago, I got myself into all sorts of contorted positions and exhausted myself in ways I’ve since learned how not to do. That’s what I want to share with you! Because even the shortest of births is likely to last several hours, and some will undoubtedly go beyond 24 hours.

That’s why I’ve made the following short list for sustaining energy levels during birth:

1. Take breaks when you need them and do what you need during them: a power nap, a snack, a stretch, or anything else. For expectant parents, read hire a doula here! Imagine how comforting it is, to be able to take a break from supporting your partner all while knowing she’s in good hands and being thoroughly taken care of while you’re away.

2. Leverage your body weight to increase the pressure and depth of your touch; lean in rather than using brute muscular force or just your fingers. This will help distribute your effort throughout your whole body, rather than having just one or two muscle groups bear the full brunt of the work.

3. Don’t initiate using more “labor intensive” techniques (pun intended) until your client or partner really needs that level of support. For instance, when contractions are 7-10 minutes apart and 30 seconds long, it’s not yet time to use the techniques that are most physically demanding. Instead, turn to other comfort measures that don’t use your hands, such as a warm shower, warm compress, or positional suggestions, to name a few. Refer to my Comfort Measures Checklist for other ideas.

4. Know that you don’t need to massage your client or partner the whole time. Any counter-pressure technique used during contractions can usually be lessened as the contraction fades. You need not massage her constantly for the entire time between contractions. Many birthing people will even welcome a break from being stimulated during this downtime. Otherwise, a few relaxing strokes should be sufficient to help her relax in between contractions, and that will help conserve your strength to support her during the next contraction.

I'd love to know what you think. Share your thoughts and comments on these sustainable energy tips below!

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