- Take some time to read up about the physiology of childbirth. Make sure that you know enough about childbirth in general to stop yourself from panicking and enable yourself to be truly supportive. This is especially true for husbands/partner. If you go into emergency mode as soon as your wife notices her first contraction, you can't be an effective support person. Knowing the process of labor helps you stay calm.
- Know what kind of birth your wife, friend, daughter, or sister is hoping for. Unless you are aware of her goals and wishes, you won't be able to be much help. Support means something totally different for someone who is hoping for an unmedicated birth, someone who wants epidural anesthesia, for homebirth moms or c-section moms.
- Realize that this birth is about supporting the mother. If you are going to see your child, grandchild, or niece/nephew enter into the world, getting carried away with excitement is all too easy. But what the birthing mother really needs is for you to attend to her needs. You might be excited, scared, and full of anticipation. Don't do anything that might upset the laboring woman, however much you might feel like it.
All other tips are sub-tips that come from these. Of course, getting the mom a nice back rub if she asks for it is great. If you are having a homebirth, perhaps filling the birth tub for a water birth is a great thing to do, and for c-sections, you'll be donning scrubs. The long and short of it is to be supportive!