Sorry (not sorry), going all out gushy Enrique Iglesias on you, but guys this is SO important: when your little baby decides to start making their way into this world it really is the Moment you can be your wife or girlfriend's hero. If you know how, it will make all the difference to all three of you.
So. What do you need to know?
These are my top three tips ( you can thank me later :-) ):
Stay calm. Being calm and relaxed is a key ingredient for a natural, comfortable birth - it is very hard to achieve if our partner is visibly anxious. Think about your fears in advance, do research (AIMS is great for objective information on pregnancy and birth), talk about them; and be prepared to realise that there is a lot you don't know about birth- and there is a lot you think you know and needs rewiring. By educating yourself and by shining the light on your fears you can put them to rest, and you'll be armed with knowledge to make calm, informed choices when the time comes.
Listen to her. This is her at her most primal and her instincts will be heightened like never before. Trust her word and support her however she wants to be supported in that moment; she might not want to be touched, but it will mean everything that you are there. Or remember that back massage she showed you? Try it. She wants to stay in the bathroom with you and nobody else ? Don't question it.
Follow your instinct to protect her. Protect her space to go within - which requires her not needing to engage her thinking brain - by being her gatekeeper; there are many questions that you can answer on her behalf and save disturbing her focus. Offer her a drink and a snack regularly, suggest she might have a wee - these aren't things she will be thinking of herself. Tell her she is powerful, tell her she is amazing. Play the music she wants to hear.
My final, and perhaps most important suggestion is this...Join a hypnobirthing course with her. If she hasn't suggested it, amaze her by suggesting it yourself. One of the biggest delights I have is seeing the light bulb moments in even my most sceptical of parents-to-be during our first session together, when they GET IT. How birth just works and is not scary. How hypnobirthing makes sense - and is the best investment you ever made to start your new family with confidence and joy, as a team.
You can read some hypnobirthing testimonials from my clients if you don't believe me :-)