New doulas always seem so curious about what to put in their doula bag. As a new doula I too looked for advice on what to bring along to help me support families in labor. As my skills have developed and my experience has grown, the contents of my bag has changed a lot and I have no doubt it will always be in flux. Unlike Mary Poppins, I have no magic in mine. But a well packed doula bag can make the difference between an easy day’s (or night’s, or days and nights’) work.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Would you like to know what I carry in my doula bag?
Almost as important as what you pack in it is the bag itself. After a lot of trial and error I am currently happily rolling my Zuca bag. It is a heavy duty wheeled bag with a solid metal frame, telescoping handle, and – here’s the best part – a SEAT on the top. So you see, I am guaranteed a place to sit that I can wheel up right behind mom as she is sitting on a birth ball for counter pressure, or slip in next to the bed when she just wants a hand to hold. Certainly not a low cost option, the Zuca comes in all kinds of colors and patterns and the soft insert can be removed from the frame for washing or replacing. Several packing insert bags are included to make organization a snap, and it has about a zillion (okay maybe not a zillion, but at least 12) pockets. Can you tell I love my Zuca?
So here’s my bag and every thing I carry in it. Well, almost everything. I forgot to include my ipad (I’m paperless now!) and my rice pack, but was too lazy to take new pictures.
Name Tag – Help the hospital staff remember your name.
Crash Shears – I worked as an EMT. I never leave home without them! Will cut off a bra in no time flat, or simply help dad open that bag of trail mix he brought.
Emergency Childbirth Kit – Another carry over from my EMT days. All I have in there are a couple chux, a bulb syringe and a diaper. I have vacuum sealed it to keep it clean and small. Have never needed it and don’t ever plan to. It’s like taking a raincoat on vacation. Yes, I AM superstitious.
Kneeling pad – Comes in really handy for long sessions by the tub, when mom does hands and knees on the floor, or even to stand on when your feet are tired from standing.
Promotional Material – Business cards or what ever you use – have some with you. Always. Nurses will ask, Midwives will ask, the husbands of other laboring moms will ask.
Reference Material – This changes too, I used to carry labor position reminders, now I have a cheat sheet for medications that I often have to explain to clients, and some advanced positioning for stalled labors. I still have my labor progress handbook, but honestly have never used it at a birth. That will be out the next time I think my bag is too heavy.
TENS Unit – I am DONA certified in TENS for birth and use this unit at probably half of my births. The small black case holds the unit, two sets of Electrode pads, two sets of electrode connectors, extra batteries and instruction manual. For more information on TENS for birth visit my website.
Blue Grab Bag –
The “grab bag” system is part of the way I stay organized and don’t have to dig through a lot of stuff to find what I need. This bag holds lotions, and all sorts of little comfort items. What do I use the most in this bag? Lotion, hair elastics and chap sticks for moms.
The Green Grab Bag -Has several smaller bags within it, as well as a small ipod and speakers loaded with a nice selection of calming music, rebozo, massage tools, essential oils, a bath pillow and a pocket apron that I like to wear when I don’t happen to be wearing a lot of pockets.
The little green floral bag holds chargers for my phone and iPad.
The little brown bag holds some small comfort items and extra batteries. I use the fold up fan. A LOT.
My Personal Grab Bag – holds comfort items for me. I keep these all in one bag so I can grab it when I step out to use the restroom or if I need a few moments to refuel or freshen up. I am currently a big fan of the Happy Family fruit pouches as a quick way to discretely get some nourishment at a long birth, without a strong odor to upset mom.
Add in a rice sack, and my ipad and there you have it. Everything I need to do my job fits neatly in this bag, with room to spare for a sweater, camera or knitting (for those slow inductions).
There is nothing magic in my bag. Just a lot of items to make life a little easier. The most important thing I bring to each birth is not even in my bag…. It’s hands that are ready to comfort and eager to serve, connected to a heart full of gratitude and love.