As a seasoned doula, I have figured out what tends to need to be in my bag & has been proven to be helpful to most clients. Below is a list of literally everything that is in my bag every single day, every single birth.
Any woman having a baby needs to have access to a rebozo! It can be used for tons of things that can help make labor more comfy & to help it progress. While my beloved rainbow rebozo was not purchased from this supplier, this is the source that I highly recommend. Their rebozos are authentic & affordable.
Laboring takes some physical work. Did you know most women, when given no instruction, choose to labor leaning over things. This can mean a lot of strain on your knees. These are the knee pads I carry. I love that they are small and separate, as they are easy to pack up. And I had a client simply stand on them the other day, a use I never thought of! Those hard hospital floors tend to be hard on your feet too! These are the knee pads that I own & clients have loved.
This has literally been the best $20 I have ever spent! Use it on your aching back from back labor. Fold it up, put it under your belly to help with contractions. It is flat enough that I use it on clients' backs along with my rebozo, which can hold it in place as well as allow you to do shake the apples to help baby's position. It is also great for those postpartum cramps and a back that aches from being in bed for so long. Side note for the doulas, I used this for myself the other day when I was trying to rest in a very cold hospital room. This is the one that I have loved!
Essential Oil Diffuser
Essential oils can certainly help create a calming environment. Some women do not prefer oils to be diffused but I still love this diffuser for the fact that it puts off different color lights, which can also contribute to a calm space.
Below are the oils I absolutely recommend to have on hand. Not every woman in labor will appreciate oils, so I recommend smelling them in the bottle first. If you love them, you can just smell them out of the bottle. You can also put them on a tissue and wear it under your bra strap. Some can be used topically with a carrier oil. And if you love them, you can diffuse them. Just know if you diffuse, it will not leave the room if you decide it is too much. And also, not all are safe for baby when they are on the outside. So I suggest diffusing them in a space in which you will not be birthing, like the bathroom at the hospital (although know that is a perfectly acceptable place to give birth!).
Earthley Calming Blend this blend is literally just AMAZING! Even if you are not having a baby, just buy it! Great for when you need to calm down & center yourself for the work that is coming.
Earthley Morning Burst Blend this blend is perfect when you need me a pick me up. I use it when clients need to get moving & motivated. But honestly diffuse it on a daily basis in my home because it is so amazing!
Planet Therapy Lemon Essential Oil lemon oil is great for a pick-me-up as well as help with nausea.
Plant Therapy Clary Sage Essential Oil clary sage can help with many female reproductive issues, including the intensity of contractions or period cramps. I like to have it on hand when we also need to have contractions pick up.
Plant Therapy Lavender Essential Oil lavender is synonymous with relaxation, I use it when clients need to rest.
Plant Therapy Peppermint Essential Oil peppermint has many uses. It can be uplifting. It can help with nausea. Mint can also be associated with pain relief. I do caution on using this one in labor, especially when close to birth, as it can affect breastfeeding. My favorite uses for it are putting a drop in a basin, to help with nausea while clients are throwing up. Or putting a drop in the toilet when clients are struggling to pee.
Earthley Tension Relief I love this for me & for my clients! Labor is hard on everyone in the birth space. You need to have ways to help relieve tight muscles. I love this blend because it does not have mint, which can affect breastfeeding. It is warm & so soothing!
LED Votive Candles
These little candles fit so well in my birth bag & are cheap enough that I do not have to be upset if I forget them. They can create a calming environment even in a cold, sterile hospital bathroom. They are small enough to fit into tight spaces, even on the precarious edge of a hospital tub. I bought these exact ones, the price point is amazing!
I will be honest, I do not use this a lot. Most of my clients who find relief from it are experiencing back labor. While we try to remedy the cause of the back labor (usually baby's position) a TENS unit can provide great relief. I also like it for transferring from home to hospital in active labor. This one I have is not super expensive.
Small Organization Bags
If you have met me, you know I am a bit type A. I like all the small things to be organized in my big backpack & this assortment of cute little bags are so stylish & practical.
This one pictured holds my LED candles, TENS unit, extra pads & charging cord, honey sticks, hair ties, travel pack of tissues, combs for acupressure, small affirmation cards, & extra batteries for my twinkle lights. While my exact one does not show available, this is a comparable one that is equally as cute. I love it because it is waterproof & thick! Though it is small, it is roomy!
This is one that holds my snacks. It was a gift from a dear friend. While this one is no longer available either, this one is equally cute!
And this cute Blue Q pencil bag holds my essential oils. I also have one that holds my herbal tinctures.
Straws are seemingly unimportant but it is one of my most used items! This is a 300 pack, I obviously do not carry all 300 on me, just a handful. But I love these ones because they have the capability to be long & bendy. It works well for those huge water bottles or they do not have to be extended & so work well for regular sized bottles too.
Holding combs can be a great pain reliever for some laboring women. When held in the palm, with teeth pressed into the bottom crease of the fingers, it hits acupressure points that can make the intensity of labor less. I love these combs!
Fans can be a game changer for laboring moms. I love using a stroller fan as they can be so versatile. They can be looped around the side of a hospital bed. The legs can be used to stand it up on pretty much any surface. And even hung from an IV pole. This is the fan I have in my bag! I love that it can be charged instead of having to constantly replace batteries.
Affirmations can help to emotionally & mentally support women in labor. Having cards hung for them to see or for others to read, can create a calming space for everyone. My affirmation cards were gifted to me from a loving client, they were made by Renegade Mama. I cannot find them. But if I had to buy some now, I would purchase the Mama Natural Affirmation Cards. Clients have used both sets of cards and loved them!
For Christian clients, I carry these cards, from Daily Grace. They contain scripture & biblically based affirmations.
These are the few books in my bag that I reference quite often:
The Peanut Ball Book this book has saved more than one birth! It has lots of great tips on using a peanut ball to help with baby's position.
The Labor Progress Handbook this book is also wonderful! It contains remedies not only for physical dystopias but also emotional & mental ones.
Spinning Babies Quick Reference Spinning Babies is vital for birth workers. This book is just as important, as it keeps all the information at your fingertips.
As a doula, it is not my place to prescribe herbs to be used during pregnancy and/or labor. The tinctures I carry on me are ones that are sold to the general public. I encourage all clients to talk with their providers and the owner of the herbal shop, to ensure the herbs would be safe for you to use. I also encourage clients to do their own research. The ones I carry are available for use by clients who have ensured that they are safe for them. Forest & Meadow in St. Louis carries specially formulated by an herbalist who has throughly studied women's health. If you are local, you can certainly go straight to the store. But if you are not, they ship!
Labor Ease this tincture does an amazing job at helping laboring women relax during the intensity of labor. I used it at a birth back in November, along with the other items listed in the image above. Despite this birth being a hospital induction, the space was so calm & mama achieved her unmedicated birth!
Get Some Zzzs sleep in labor can be hard to come by. But it is so vital, especially in early labor or during a longer labor. This tincture can be helpful in helping mamas get restful sleep in between contractions.
Postpartum Relief did you know that you still contract after birth? It is healthy, as these contractions will help your uterus return to normal size. And they keep you from hemorrhaging. Nursing will bring these contractions on. And the more babies you have, the worse they tend to be. This tincture can help with those cramps. I find that it works best when you use a heating pad on your belly as well.
Nourishment during labor is SO important! For literally everyone in the room. These snacks are packed for me but I like to have options on hand that would be good for a laboring mama as well as her partner if need be. These are snacks that I regularly carry:
Kind Bars protein is vital. I love these bars because they are packed with nuts, which help keep you full. And they tend to have chocolate, for a little bit of caffeine and the sugar helps keep you energized.
Macro Bars these are also protein packed. They are my favorite snack in my bag. They are so filling!
Beef Sticks this is my favorite beef stick! Again, a good source of protein. And also a great source if you need something savory.
Chia Seed Pouches these little pouches provide a great source of omegas & a quick burst of energy. I love pouches because they can be resealed if you are not able to eat it all.
Applesauce Pouches this is absolutely my favorite applesauce pouch. They come in different flavors and are organic.
Pistachios Nuts are an amazing snack! They are filled with good fats & protein. I love these individually packed ones.
I have learned that what is in my bag is no where near as important as the physical support that I bring. Knowledge, experience, and intuition are all more important than things. I will follow this up with a blog about the training & resources I have found to be the most helpful to me.