As a child I remember being mesmerized by Mary Poppins and her amazing carpet bag. I watched in amazement as she pulled out a hat rack, tape measure, and all sorts of fanciful things.
While training to become a doula, I sat in awe as my instructor performed similar magic. She had this incredible bag filled with all the magical ingredients to help make a birth move along in a more pleasant way. Having received my Girl Scout Gold Award a million years ago, the thought of me being able to be so wonderfully stocked and "prepared" made me happy and gushy inside.
Over the course of my 5+ years as a doula I've updated my bag so many times. Clients often ask me what is in the bag, so here is a sneak peek!
Becca the Birth Doula and her Magical Doula Bag
(c) 2016 Becca Smith
My doula bag isn't made of carpet like the one Mary Poppins had. I used to use a rolling tote because my bag is quite heavy, but I currently have chosen to use a large tote that zips closed and is made by the Thirty-one company. Inside, I've saved clear zip-top bags (the kind that new curtains come in) so that I can sort out all of my supplies. Organization makesme feel calm during a birth so I think I owe it to the family to have my gear in order.
- My hospital ID card
- My keys
- My wallet and money (including lots of ones and change for the vending machine and to pay for parking)
- Usually 2-3 Ice Teas that I pick up at Sheetz on the way to the birth because I get thirsty and am not a coffee drinker. Need the caffeine and they are cheaper at Sheetz than in the vending machines!
Inside of the bag
- Folder containing the client's contract, information sheet(s), and a copy of their Birth Vision
- Folder containing my favorite hand-outs lest I need to refer to anything
- Copy of my 2 favorite Doula Books - again for reference
- Generic foam garden kneeler in case I end up in a kneeling position for long periods of time...helps the knees!
- My 7ft. and my 9ft. Rebozo (What's a Rebozo? O. M. Goodness! It is a very long piece of cloth traditionally warn in Mexican/Central American countries and used in a host of ways to help a mother during labor and birth. I can use it in place of the double hip squeeze that can take some pressure off your lower back and help open your pelvis. I can use it as a privacy shield if a mama wants to squat during a contraction while walking in the hallway: hospital gowns are very unforgiving in this position! The mama can pull on it during pushing, I can use it to help support the mom if she wants to dangle or squat during contractions, and the list goes on!)
- My "hospital shoes" and a set of comfy clothes. Since I have no idea where I will be when the "Bat <baby> Signal" goes off telling me it is time for a birth, I like to have a whole outfit of the correct clothes ready to roll. Nothing worse than attending a birth in a skirt and heels or sweaty work out clothes!
Clear Zip Bags
- Aroma Therapy and Essential Oils Bag
It is interesting to note that as a doula I place a few drops of oils that the mother would like to smell on folded toilet paper squares. Sometimes a woman may LOVE a certain essential oil before pregnancy or even during pregnancy only to find that the day of the birth the smell is repulsive! If I use toilet paper I can quickly flush the whole thing and the scent will be gone. Mothers who wish to use oils topically or ingest essential oils have to use their own oils for these purposes. As a doula, I am not a healthcare provider.
- Ambiance Bag
If a birth happens at home or at a childbirth center it is rather easy to make the room feel welcoming and calm. Often it is more difficult in a hospital setting. Having music, safe candles and simple decorations often takes the edge off the harsh environment. More so, when medical personnel enter a room where there is soft music playing, flickering candles and a sense of calm they are more likely to respect the calm of the environment.
- Office Supplies Bag
Tape (for hanging signs on the door)
Notebook where I keep track of what goes on at your birth IF there is time
Lots of pens
Spare Batteries for everything I have that takes batteries
These are those "silly things" that have nothing to do with birth but can add anxiety if not covered. If a family is worried that they can't charge their phone and get in touch with the babysitter who is with their older children they are not feeling calm. If I personally run out of charge and cant snap a few photos for you then I have worry. Remembering these essentials takes one factor for stress out of the equation for all!
- Misc. Oral Supplies
Hard tack candy (For the mom only if practitioner allows)
Mints (for me so I don't knock you out after I eat a sandwich!)
New, unopened lip balm from a variety of manufacturers (Burts Bees, Chapstick, EOS, etc.)
I have no idea why it is so hard to find utensils and straws in a hospital but I find the stick frequently depleted! I started just bringing my own.
- Temperature Bag
Battery Operated Fans
Being one hot momma is probably how the baby came about in the first place! During labor I don't want the mom to be too hot...or too cold! Heat and cold also help manage discomfort when placed on the back or even on the perineum.
- Doula Personal Items (Bag I)
Spare bra, shirt, underwear and socks (during particularly long births these are just essential for the doula and so you don't stink and gross out the mother)
Light sweater (I adjust the room temperature for the MOTHER not for me! If I'm cold, add a sweater!)
- Doula Personal Items (Bag II)
- Comfort Bag
Wooden roller massager
Hard Tennis Balls
- Hair Care
Along with all these standard items, I often have some surprises in my bag. Might be food, might be a "push gift" for you, might be something for the baby...who knows!