Comfort Measures in Labor: Verbal Encouragement
Cheerleaders line the edge of the field. The lead the crowd in cheering on their team. The loud chants reach the ears of the exhausted players on the field. Their hearts beat a little faster, their excitement grows, and they feel stronger and faster than they did just minutes before. They have momentary visions of being the champion, of winning, of being carried away on the shoulders of the cheering crowd. This boost in their attitude motivates them to power through the pain and exhaustion and end the game victorious.
What was it about the verbal encouragement of the crowd that made the difference? Why is it that when someone else believes in us, it gives us just what we need to complete a task?
What is verbal encouragement?
To encourage someone is to give them support, confidence, or hope. The Bible uses the word “exhort” as a synonym for “encourage.” “Exhortation is defined as ‘an urging done by someone close beside,’” according to GotQuestions.
Verbal encouragement is coming alongside someone and cheering her on.
We have seen this in races where another runner will run beside a runner struggling and tell them “you can do this,” “you’re doing great,” “keep it up,” “you’ve got this!”
We have even seen this in boot camp as a superior runs alongside a group of recruits. His type of exhortation is a little more negative, typically, using phrases like “come on pansies,” “knees up wusses,” “we don’t have all day!” While this type of “encouragement” may not work for everyone, it does work for some.
How does verbal encouragement work?
The area of verbal encouragement and how it works has not been studied much. This is an instinctual reaction to someone struggling or facing a daunting task but we really know very little about how it truly works.
What we do know is when we are tired, when we are in pain, when we are ready to just give up, a word of encouragement from a friend or loved one can boost our spirits and increase our stamina just enough to get the job done.
How can I use verbal encouragement in labor?
Doulas, nurses, midwives, physicians all use verbal encouragement in labor. It is instinctual and also something we have learned from experience. However, your spouse, family members, and closest friends are likely to know better than professionals the best way to verbally encourage you. They have seen you through tough times and know what words to say, when to say them, and how to say them.
It is a good idea to take a moment to discuss with your husband and any other family or friends you plan to have at your birth what you like to hear and when. Keep in mind that what you think you like and what you actually like in labor may be different so trust your loved ones to be able to know what you need and when. Encourage them to think about this before labor and have a few phrases planned.
Here are a few phrases that are encouraging:
- You are doing great!
- You are the strongest woman I know!
- I am so proud of you!
- You are totally rockin’ this!
- I love you.
- You are so beautiful.
- This is so hard but you are doing an amazing job!
- I know you are tired but you are almost there!
- You are a warrior!
- I am amazed by you!
- You are my hero!
A husband gently stroking his wife’s hair and whispering encouraging words into her ear while she works to bring their baby into the world is a beautiful sight.
If you are in the Denton, TX area and are interested in hiring a doula for your birth experience, contact me today to schedule a free consultation. If you are interested in learning about more comfort measures in labor, check out my Comfort Measures page.