It's always an interesting discussion in groups of doulas about our bags. Some believe they just need their heart, hands, and voice. Some add a change of clothes and a few snacks. Some carry essential oils and massage tools. Everyone is different! A common belief is the bigger the bag, the newer the doula.
I'm not sure if that's true, to be honest. I definitely feel that my heart, hands, and voice are my most important tools. But, I like my other tools and tricks. I may be an over packer and over prepared, but I never want to be at a birth and think "Oh! I wish I had some peppermint oil to help with her nausea..." or "My arms are killing me, I wish I had a massager to give more pressure."
My current doula bag is a Zuca bag. I love that it is compact, has lots of pockets, and handles curbs/stairs/parking garages smoothly. Plus, the top of the bag is made to be a seat!
Snacks- sometimes I'm at a birth for hours, sometimes for a day or more.
Honey straws, & hard fruit candies- a 'clear fluid' pick-me-up for clients, me, or a woozy partner.
Mints & gum- you have to keep your breath fresh around a laboring client, even if you're surviving on coffee :)
Toothbrush, mouthwash, & deodorant- nice to take a moment and freshen up. Such a simple thing can really be a pick me up at a long birth.
FULL change of clothes- sweat, vomit, and amniotic fluid happen. Sometimes you need more than just a shirt!
Jacket- folks in labor often want the room pretty cool, and I think hospitals are always cold!
Kneeling pad- this gets used by myself, client, and partners. Hard floors do a number on your knees.
Washcloths- if you didn't know, hospital ones are scratchy and sterile white. I bring thick, soft, colorful ones for my clients. It's one of those little things that can really make a big difference.
Rice socks- I make these out of soft flannel. These are warmed and used most often for back pain in labor.
Ice bag & cooling towel- Labor is hard work, and sweat happens!
Massage tools, lotion, & massage oil- fairly self-explanatory. Sometimes you need more pressure or more focused counter pressure than my hands can give. My favorites right now are an acrylic 'spider' and tennis balls.
New chapstick and hair ties- these are items clients need often, but forget to pack.
Rebozo- an incredible tool! Rebozos have an amazing history (future post!) and have been used for centuries to comfort pregnant people and those in labor.
TENS unit- TENS units are an interesting tool. To learn more, visit the tab under 'Services' above
Essential oils- Controversial, I know. I absolutely do NOT make a client use these. I don't even pull them out unless a specific situation arises where one may help
iPod and portable speakers- sometimes, families don't think they want music, then the room is suddenly too quiet! I keep an iPod loaded with a variety of instrumental music.
Tablet- client files, reference materials, communication with colleagues, and books for when mom is sleeping or taking some time alone with her partner.
Birth ball & cover- this actually only comes with me if we're not sure the birthplace will have one, and stays in my car until we know we need it.
Reference materials- these change often. I currently have the Labor Lab booklet, an essential oil 'cheat sheet', and medication reference cards from my training organization.
Thank you cards & business cards- I LOVE writing a little note to my client's providers, especially if it is my first time meeting them. The little things we do truly make an impact!