This one's for all of you who are just curious about what your doula has in that magical bag they bring to your birth, and for those budding doulas who, like me a long time ago, wondered, "What should I bring??"
When I first became a doula, I lugged in two huge bags of stuff to use for every birth. They were heavy and cumbersome and sometimes I didn't use ANY OF IT! Now, I know better how to choose what to bring based on what kind of birth I expect, and thank goodness, because I'm not getting any younger! 😂
I'm going to list most of what I bring, along with my thoughts on their usefulness in the birthing room.
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Let's start with what I bring for myself. Births are so unpredictable and I never know how long they'll last, so it's imperative that I bring supplies for self-care:
Support stockings: It only took me a couple of births with aching legs to figure out that I needed more support. THANK GOODNESS FOR THESE! Partners should really consider using these too. They're a life-saver.
Extra face masks: Have you ever worn a mask for 26 hours straight? It's only happened to me once, and now I bring my own. I like the color of these, and they're easier on the backs of my ears, which is a godsend.
Sleep masks: These are for me and my clients. Do you know how many times your nurse or other hospital worker will come in and disturb your sleep? About a million. Sleep is precious, so I do all that I can to help everyone rest (including myself) as much and as often as possible.
Caffeine: You can only know this kind of tired if you've been to a birth. I need help, and partners, you probably will too! This powdered coffee was recommended by a co-worker, and these packets are actually pretty good, and they pack a punch. Add them to hot water and you just might get some semblance of energy back!
Food: It's weird that times goes by slowly and quickly at the same time during a birth, but before I know it, five or six hours have gone by and I'm parched and starving. These dried mangoes are yummy, and the sugar and carbs give me a little pick-up.
I try to bring things that I can prepare quickly without taking too much time away from my client. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and this instant tofu soup is not half bad, really. Just add it to hot water and it's like you're in a Japanese restaurant! Just kidding. 😂
Ok, so onto the stuff for my clients. I don't use all of these things all of the time and I do like to switch things up a little. But some of these things would honestly be great for every day pregnancy aches and pains.
Setting the mood is important during birth. The first thing I do when I arrive (if I have time) is make sure that my clients feel safe and comfortable so that we can get that oxytocin flowing! I do that by dimming the lights and using these twinkle lights, these tea lights, and if possible some of these aromatherapy oils. (To read more about how oxytocin affects your birthing experience, click here.)
Feel good tools are usually a hit, if I have time to use them, but these are by far my most popular tool yet, and you can freeze the metal roller balls! I must confess that I did try them out before I used them at births, and they really do relax you!
And I've stopped using tennis balls because they're impossible to clean, and switched to these lacrosse massage balls. They're firm and my clients love them!
Ok folks, so the secret is out! It's mostly stuff for me (did I mention that I bring a full change of clothes, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrush and other toiletries)?
Most of the time, I feel like the most important things that I could possibly bring are my hands and heart.
Have questions about what a doula does to support you?