5 Things You Should Not Say to Someone in Labor

Pregnant woman in labor on hospital bed
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Let’s face it, there are some things you shouldn’t say to someone in labor. Labor is all about hard work. When you find yourself at a labor and birth with someone, as a husband, a friend, a family member, nurse, practitioner or doula there are some things you shouldn’t say. Saying things that are not ideal happens, even to the best of us in these situations. Sometimes if you have heard the list of what not to say, it's helpful at holding that list in your mind to avoid it.

Here’s a list of things I’ve heard at births that shouldn’t have been said by those around the laboring woman:

1. "This is taking so long…"

If you are feeling tired, achy, hungry and annoyed, just think how she’s feeling? Yes, labor can take a long time, but in the grand scheme of life, it’s really not that long. Just remember that all of the births you’ve seen on TV are edited to make them fit into 30-60 minute time frames, life doesn’t work that way. So, grab a chair, a snack, a potty break - whatever, but get your head back in the game and start helping her. Focusing on her will take your mind off of you. Sometimes leaving the room to clear your head is the best thing that you can do - seriously. Five or ten minutes away is awesome.

2. "That’s going to be one big a** baby!"

A doctor said this as he walked into a mom’s room as she was pushing. Now, in his defense, the baby was over 9 pounds, but the mom did a beautiful job of pushing her baby out in a timely fashion.

She says that it shook her when she heard it because she hadn’t given it any thought before then. She wondered, for the first time, if she couldn’t do it because of this comment. Besides, you can't really tell how big baby will be.

3. "Here comes a contraction!"

While you have the fetal monitor to look at, mom can actually feel it before the contraction shows on the monitor.

She’s likely to throw you some dirty looks if you utter this one, if not something else. Most moms are able to feel the contraction well before and will let you know if you watch her and not the monitor.

4. "That was a big one!"

While the monitor gives you a graphical representation of what a contraction is like in terms of length, it does not show you how much it hurts. Be careful talking about contractions at all. It's best to ignore the monitor. You have the best indicator of how big a contraction was right in front of you - the laboring woman!

5. "This is why men don’t have babies."

While this may be the punch line to many a joke, it’s not really that funny in labor and delivery. There are plenty of things that are funny, this isn't one of them. The partner in labor is trying their best, many times as a doula, I hear dads say that they wish they could switch places with mom to help her.

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