What’s In the Doula’s Bag?

I bring a rolling small suitcase to a birth. I met a doula on the way out from a birth who only had a bag on her shoulder. I thought it was quite odd that she carried so little to a birth. She told me she tells the couple to bring all of the stuff she may use in labor. I bring quite a few things. I have a small bag inside my suitcase that is must pull out for birth bags- and usually it is brought out. It has little twinkle lights. These create a nice ambiance to any room. And if the mom is in the bathroom instead of having the overhead lights- I bring them in and bundle them up for a nice glow. This bag has a few lotions- clary sage and peppermint-lavender blended. I bring some peppermint oil for nausea- sprinkle a bit on a tissue to help keep it away. It is also a great way to help a mom empty her bladder postnatally with a few drops in the toilet water. I carry a hand mirror so the mom can see if she desires during pushing. I carry a wireless speaker and my tablet for music and note taking. It is also the place for my rebozo to stay. My clients sometimes call it my Mary Poppins bag!

mary-poppins bag

My bag also houses some sterile gloves and a umbilical cord clamp for those emergent births- I have only had to use these once in 20+ years! I carry some sarongs that a mom may use when getting out of the tub for a while- to help her cover a bit. I bring a hip scarf with jangles for the moms who may choose to dance during their labors. There is a compartment that houses some breastfeeding reminder cards and a latch assist if the mom needs it. I carry some tub plugs for those hospitals who discourage the use of the tub so much that the stopper is missing! There is a small bag with toiletries for the long labors where tooth brushes and such are very needed. There are a few odds and ends- some massage tools for dads who prefer to use those instead of hands- but they rarely come out of the bag. I have a few packets of honey to ward off fatigue when the mom needs a sugar boost quickly. And I carry a small bag with snacks for me and a microbial kneel pad. And if the mom has not brought her birth ball- which I prefer since it is the right size for her and one she is familiar with, I bring my birth ball. And I bring a camera for picture taking.

The last few births I realized I took out very little….my rebozo, my camera, my tablet for music. I like having the other things just in case. I do not rely on the parents to bring these things- because they already have to pack for their births needs personally and for postpartum. I also do not want to be without these things if they would be helpful.

But there are two things every good doula brings to her births besides her birth wisdom; her hearts and her hands. There are many times that those are the only things needed. Whispers of encouragement,a touch of love to the couple and patience and trust in birth.