Before attending my first birth I was fascinated by what other doulas carried with them and what they used it all for. I searched Instagram and youtube over and over (I'm a visual learner so seeing the actual item helped me a lot) and quickly got an idea of what i could include that would best serve my clients and help me as well.
Here's what I currently have in my bag and what I use them for:
- birth ball - while most hospitals in the Niagara and Hamilton areas have at least one on the L&D floor, there is no guarantee it will be available for my client when they want it. Clients who have chosen to have a home birth or labour for an extended period at home also find it helpful to use a birth ball finding a more comfortable labouring position.
- tennis balls and knee socks - tennis balls are a great tool for putting counter pressure on a clients lower back if they are experiencing back labour. I can use them on their own or tie them up within the knee sock so they can be rolled up and down the mothers back for a massage.
- simple hair combs - no these aren't for keeping a mothers hair looking picture perfect during labour! *smile* Having a mother hold one in each hand and squeeze it can help stimulate pressure points in her hands to help naturally relieve some pain for labour.
- hot and cold packs - a mothers needs vary a lot during labour and she may at times find the soft warm heat comforting on her lower belly during labour but then want the cool comfort of an ice pack during the pushing stage of her labour. Having an ice pack always kept in the freezer and then wrapped with a wash cloth can be a great tool if the tap water isn't as cold as the mother would like.
- gardening knee pad - seems like a funny thing to bring along but they are great! If I'm spending a lot of time during labour kneeling beside a mama or beside her birth pool it can get hard on my knees! Having a softer cushion that won't slip and slide around like a blanket or towel would is great! They are also much easier to wipe down and clean between uses then fabric items.
- honey sticks - these are a super quick and easy way to give a labouring mama a quick hit of sugars and energy to get her through that last leg of labour when she may not feel like eating. They are just like pixie stix that we had as kids but with honey. Just snip the tip of and squeeze into mama's mouth.
- SNACKS! - anyone who knows me knows I am not a happy camper when I'm hungry. While I do my best to eat a large meal full of protein and complex carbs before heading out the door to a birth, sometimes birth can be long and that one meal wears off. My favourites are cliff protein bars, fruit puree squeeze pouches and packets of instant oatmeal for a quick pick me up. I also carry Young Living's Nitro for a quick natural caffeine hit (no coffee breath!) and Young Living's Ningxia Red juice pack to help keep my immunity up in a hospital setting.
- my personal bag - there is no way to know before hand how long I will be away from home and with a family. Keeping that in mind I've packed a few things I felt were important (and I'm sure the parents and other birth team members will appreciate them as well!) Some of the things I've packed in my own bag are deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, hair brush and hair ties, Ibuprofen (because there is nothing worse then trying to be supportive when you're head feels like it's going to explode!), hand sanitizer,feminine hygiene products and extra undies! (sometimes those birth hormones are just filling the air and can throw you're cycle off a bit...always best to be extra prepared!)