If you've ever watched a doula at work, you've probably seen her pull a seemingly simple item out of her bag at just the right time and use it to expertly care for a person in labor. Nearly every doula carries a bag of tricks to support birthing people and their families, and every doula prefers a different set up — plus, our bags usually reflect our personalities! Read on for a peek at a few of the key items in my current doula bag.
Several of the things I carry are tools to help the person in labor navigate the intense physical and emotional experience their body is undergoing. I always pack:
A massage ball for getting that sacral pressure juuuuust right. This purple one is like a tennis ball with an upgrade.
Temperature control items, like a washcloth for cold water and a rice pack for heat. I also use a sandalwood hand fan (not pictured here) for those really sweaty moments.
Essential oils for relaxation (lavender), nausea (peppermint), and energy (grapefruit). A few drops of these oils on a cotton ball can really help the mind and body cooperate during intense moments.
I sourced several of these items from my favorite local earthy-crunchy store, Cambridge Naturals, and I do my best to shop small or purchase from other birth workers whenever possible. (But I can also admit that I really love Target.)
The other items I pack are to care for myself so that I can be at full capacity to support a laboring person through the ups and downs (and potentially long, winding road) on the way to meeting their baby. To sustain myself, I bring:
Toiletries like deodorant, a toothbrush, and face wipes. We're all in close physical proximity, so I always mind my own smells! Also, after supporting labor all night, it feels surprisingly refreshing to brush your teeth in the morning.
Food full of protein and nutrients to keep me going. I make sure to bring one full hot meal (my wife makes delish chicken and rice bowls for this very purpose!) and several snacks, like honey sticks from whichever local beekeeper is at the SoWa Open Market that week.
Cash for the vending machines, in the event of sneaky cheez-it cravings.
WATER! So much water. Caffeine is great, but dehydration can tire a person out so quickly.
And that's about it! While this list might seem simple, I find that it covers the basic tangible items I need to do my job effectively. Much more important than washcloths and honey sticks, though, are the things I bring from myself and share with people in labor: my voice, for reassuring; my hands, for squeezing; my smile, for encouragement. I use these tools much more frequently!
But hey, a cute tote covered in colorful uterus confetti is pretty great, too.