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Discover the 11 Secret Weapons Every Doula Should Carry in Their Doula Bag

Doula bag
Picture of Bere Horthy

Bere Horthy

Doula & Registered Nurse

As any seasoned birth professional knows, a well-equipped doula bag is key to a successful and empowering birth experience. 

Making sure that you have all the right tools at your fingertips can make all the difference in supporting and nurturing the mother-to-be. 

Ready to unlock the mysteries of the ultimate doula bag? Let’s dive in and uncover the 11 secret weapons every doula (even the doulas who are just starting out) should carry to be prepared for any labour and delivery scenario.

lady labouring on a birthing ball with a nurse and the partner supporting her. partner is holding a heat pack to her back
Source: Hamilton Health Sciences

The comforting doula bag essentials

The first set of secret weapons for your doula bag should focus on providing physical comfort and support for the labouring mother. 

These essential tools help alleviate pain, provide relief, and make the birthing experience more manageable, guaranteeing smoother labour and delivery.

A birthing ball

First on our list is the birthing ball, also known as an exercise or stability ball. 

This inflatable sphere can be a game-changer when it comes to providing relief from back pain, encouraging optimal foetal positioning, and helping the mother find a comfortable position during labour. 

The gentle rocking and bouncing motions on a birthing ball can encourage the baby to descend further into the pelvis, facilitating faster and more efficient labour. 

Remember that size matters, so be sure to have a birthing ball that suits your client’s height and preferences.

Heat packs

Next, heat packs or hot water bottles are indispensable in any doula bag. 

Applying warmth to a labouring mother’s lower back, hips, or abdomen can help soothe her pain and discomfort. 

Heat therapy works wonders in relaxing tense muscles and improving blood flow, making it an effective non-pharmacological method for pain relief. 

Consider investing in reusable heat packs that can be quickly heated in a microwave or using boiling water so you’re always prepared when your client needs that comforting warmth.

Massage tools

Massage tools, like a massage roller or a simple tennis ball, are also vital additions to your doula bag. 

Gentle massages can help release muscle tension, relieve pressure points, and provide emotional comfort to the mother. 

A tennis ball can work wonders for applying targeted pressure to the lower back and hips, while a massage roller can help you give a more extensive and soothing massage without straining your own hands.

A birthing sling

A birthing sling is a versatile and valuable tool that supports women during labour in multiple ways.

Firstly, it promotes comfort by relieving pressure on the legs and lower body, reducing fatigue and discomfort.

It also facilitates movement, allowing the woman to sway, rock, or change positions easily, aiding optimal baby positioning and progress in labour.

The sling assists gravity and pelvic opening, encouraging the baby’s descent and alignment with the pelvis for efficient contractions and dilation.

Furthermore, it helps relax the pelvic floor muscles, reducing tension and promoting smoother labour progress.

A birthing sling enhances partner support, as it frees their hands to actively assist the labouring woman.

With a birthing sling, women can find the best positions and optimize their birthing experience while benefiting from the invaluable support of their birth partner and doula.

A rebozo

Another tool that’s becoming more popular in the birth space is a rebozo.

A rebozo is a long, woven traditional Mexican birthing scarf that’s used by doulas to provide comfort and support during pregnancy and birth.

It’s a versatile tool that can be used in many ways, such as wrapping around the belly to support the weight of the baby or draped over the shoulders to provide a calming and comforting sensation.

Doulas might also use a rebozo to provide counter-pressure on the lower back during contractions or to help the baby move into a better position for birth.

It’s a simple yet effective tool that’s become an essential part of many doulas’ toolkits.

I once had a client who was struggling with intense back labour, and none of the traditional positions seemed to help. 

That’s when I pulled out my trusty birthing ball, had her drape herself over it, and applied heat packs to her lower back. 

To top it off, I used a tennis ball to massage her aching muscles, and the relief on her face was priceless. 

The combination of these three secret weapons turned her labour around, and she was soon able to progress more comfortably.

Armed with a birthing ball, heat packs, and massage tools, you’ll be well-equipped to help your clients navigate the challenges of childbirth with greater ease and confidence. 

And remember, sometimes it’s the combination of these tools that can make all the difference in turning a difficult labour into a blissful birth.

Essential oils
Source: DR Morris

The soothing atmosphere setters

The second set of secret weapons for your doula bag should revolve around creating a calming and serene atmosphere. 

As a doula, it’s your job to make sure that the birthing environment feels like a safe and peaceful haven for the mother-to-be. 

Incorporating elements that promote relaxation and tranquillity can help reduce anxiety and stress, making it easier for the mother to focus on her labour and connect with her body.

Essential oils

One powerful way to set the mood is by using essential oils. 

These natural, aromatic compounds can have a profound effect on a person’s emotions and overall well-being. 

For example, lavender oil is known for its calming properties, while peppermint oil can help alleviate nausea and boost energy levels. 

Consider carrying a small selection of essential oils in your doula bag, along with a diffuser to customise the scent according to your client’s preferences and needs. 

Always consult the mother and her healthcare provider to ensure that the chosen oils are safe and appropriate for her specific situation.

Battery powered candles

Another essential addition to your doula bag is a set of battery-operated candles. 

These flameless alternatives provide the same soft, soothing glow as traditional candles without the risk of fire or unwanted fumes. 

By dimming the harsh overhead lights and using candles to illuminate the room, you can create a cosy and intimate atmosphere that feels more like a spa retreat than a hospital room. 

Plus, battery-operated candles come in various sizes and colours, so you can choose the perfect combination to suit your client’s taste.

Music

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of music or guided meditation playlists to set the tone for a relaxed and peaceful birth experience. 

Curate a collection of calming tunes, nature sounds, or guided relaxation tracks that can help the mother focus on her breathing and visualise a positive labour outcome. 

Alternatively, encourage your client to create her own playlist with songs that hold personal significance and evoke feelings of comfort and reassurance.

These soothing atmosphere setters have the power to turn even the most sterile hospital room into a zen oasis. 

When you combine the calming scents of essential oils, the warm glow of battery-operated candles, and the soothing sounds of your carefully curated playlist.

You’ll create a nurturing environment that can help your clients feel more relaxed, focused, and in control during their birthing journey.

With essential oils, battery-operated candles, and soft music or guided meditation playlists at your disposal, you’ll be able to support your clients in a holistic way.

Addressing not only their physical needs but also their emotional well-being.

energy balls
Source: Pinterest

The energising doula bag snack stash

As we continue our journey through the must-haves of a well-stocked doula bag, let’s take a peek at the energising snack stash. 

Labour can be a long and physically demanding process for both the mother and the doula, so it’s crucial to have a supply of nourishing snacks and drinks on hand to keep energy levels up and maintain focus.

Energising foods

The first secret to a successful snack stash is having a variety of options that cater to different tastes and nutritional needs. 

For the labouring mother, it’s essential to have easy-to-digest, energy-boosting snacks such as energy bars, dried fruit, or a banana. 

These foods provide a quick source of carbohydrates, which can help maintain blood sugar levels during labour and prevent fatigue. 

Be sure to check with your client beforehand regarding any dietary restrictions or preferences, and consider adding some of her favourite treats to the mix for an extra morale boost.

For the doula, it’s also important to have a selection of snacks that can sustain you throughout the labour without causing a sugar crash. 

Opt for items such as nuts, seeds, or trail mix that offer a combination of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to keep you feeling satiated and alert. 

Hydrating drinks

Remember to pack a reusable water bottle and stay hydrated, as dehydration can affect your ability to think clearly and provide effective support to your client.

In addition to water, consider packing some hydrating and electrolyte-rich drinks for both you and the mother-to-be. 

Coconut water, for example, is a natural source of electrolytes and can help replenish lost fluids and minerals during labour. 

Herbal teas, such as ginger or chamomile, can also provide soothing warmth and comfort while addressing specific concerns like nausea or anxiety.

When you’re packing your doula bag with all these delicious and nutritious snacks, it might start to feel like a secret snack treasure chest. 

And who knows, having that hidden stash might just make those long hours of labour a little more enjoyable for both you and the mother-to-be.

A well-rounded snack stash is a vital component of any doula bag. 

By making sure you have an assortment of energising snacks and drinks for both the mother and yourself, you’ll be better equipped to tackle the challenges of labour with sustained energy and focus. 

And let’s face it, having a secret snack treasure chest on hand can also bring a touch of joy and comfort to even the most intense moments of childbirth.

A stack of birthing books on the table
Source: Pinterest

The Power of Knowledge and Preparation

Now that we’ve covered the physical comforts, soothing atmosphere setters, and energising snacks, it’s time to dive into the power of knowledge and preparation. 

In this fourth secret weapon category, we’ll explore the essential informational resources and tools that every doula bag should contain. 

These items will help you stay organised and informed, allowing you to provide the best possible support to the mother throughout her birthing journey.

Birth plan

Every doula bag should have a copy of the mother’s birth plan — including virtual doulas.

This document outlines her preferences for labour and delivery, including pain management options, preferred positions, and any special requests or considerations.

Having a physical copy on hand guarantees that you can quickly refer to it and advocate for the mother’s wishes, even if the original plan goes astray or gets buried in the shuffle of a busy birthing environment.

Birthing books

In addition to the birth plan, it’s also wise to carry a selection of reference books or materials that cover various aspects of childbirth. This is also important for virtual doulas — you can never have enough birthing books.

These resources can serve as helpful reminders or inspiration when you need to suggest different coping techniques, positions, or comfort measures. 

Consider including titles that cover topics such as labour progress, breastfeeding, and postpartum care, as well as books that focus on specific birthing methods or philosophies that resonate with you and your clients.

Paperwork and checklists

Finally, don’t forget to pack any necessary paperwork or checklists in your doula bag. 

This can include client contracts, medical release forms, and any checklists or templates you use to track your client’s progress throughout labour. 

Having these documents organised and easily accessible guarantees that you can focus on providing emotional and physical support rather than scrambling to locate a missing form or piece of information.

Think of your well-prepared doula bag as a portable library and command centre, ready to dispense knowledge and guidance at a moment’s notice. 

With everything from birth plans to reference materials and essential paperwork.

You’ll be armed with the information you need to keep both yourself and the mother organised and informed throughout the entire birthing process.

The power of knowledge and preparation is a vital aspect of any doula bag. 

By making sure that you have essential informational resources and tools at your disposal, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the complexities of labour and delivery.

You’ll also be able to advocate for your client’s wishes and provide the informed support she needs to have a positive and empowering birth experience.

Other essential items

While there are certain items that are considered essential for a doula’s bag, there are many other things that can be included depending on the individual doula’s needs and preferences.

For example, some doulas like to carry a deck of cards to help distract clients during early labour or to pass the time during a long postpartum support session.

A change of clothes can also be a good idea, as it’s not uncommon for doulas to be with their clients for many hours or even days at a time.

Having a fresh set of clothes can help them feel more comfortable and confident and can also be helpful in case of any unexpected spills or accidents.

Other items that might be included in a doula’s bag could be a toothbrush and toothpaste to help them feel refreshed after a long night of supporting their client.

A phone and phone charger are also essential, as doulas need to be available and in contact with their clients throughout the birthing process.

In the end, the contents of a doula’s bag will vary based on their personal preferences and the needs of their clients.

However, having these additional items can help make sure that they’re comfortable, prepared, and able to provide the best possible support to their clients.

All the secret weapons that you need in your doula bag

As we reach the end of our journey rummaging through the ultimate doula bag, let’s take a moment to recap the 11 secret weapons that every doula should carry to guarantee a successful and empowering birth experience. 

From providing physical comfort with items like birthing balls and heat packs to creating a soothing atmosphere with essential oils and calming music.

We’ve explored the essentials for supporting a labouring mother’s physical and emotional needs. 

We’ve also delved into the importance of nourishing snacks and hydrating drinks, as well as the power of knowledge and preparation through birth plans, reference books, and essential paperwork.

A doula bag is like a portable library and command centre.

You can use it to give knowledge and guidance whenever you need it. 

With everything from birth plans to reference materials and essential paperwork, you’ll be armed with the information you need to keep both yourself and the mother organised and informed.

Now go forth and conquer the world of birth with your arsenal of tools and resources.

Remember that a well-equipped doula bag is key to providing the best possible support for your clients on their incredible journey to motherhood.

What is a doula bag?

Essentially, a doula bag is a collection of items that a doula brings with them to a birth or postpartum support session.

For those who may not know what a doula is.

They are trained professionals who provide emotional and physical support to mothers and families during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.

They don’t provide medical care, but they do offer guidance and support to help make the birthing experience as smooth and comfortable as possible.

The idea behind a doula bag is to have everything the doula might need to support their client during labour or postpartum.

In short, a doula bag is just one small part of the important work that doulas do to help families have positive birth and postpartum experiences.

What goes in a doula bag?

You want to know what goes in a doula bag? Well, let me tell you, it’s like Mary Poppins’ bag — you never know what you’re going to find inside.

A doula’s bag is a treasure trove of items that they use to support their clients during birth or postpartum.

There are some standard items that you’ll likely find in most doula bags. These might include massage tools, essential oils (to help create a calming atmosphere), and snacks (because giving birth is sometimes hard work, and everyone needs fuel).

But beyond that, every doula’s bag is unique to them and their clients. Some might have a birth ball (aka a giant exercise ball) to help their clients find comfortable positions during labour.

Others might have a rebozo (a long, woven scarf) that they can use for various comfort measures, like supporting the belly or providing counter-pressure on the lower back.

And then there are the miscellaneous items that you might not expect. A deck of cards, for example, can be a great distraction during early labour.

And some doulas might have a change of clothes and toiletries in their bag, just in case they need to stay with their client for a while.

So there you have it — a peek inside the mysterious world of the doula bag. Whether you’re a doula yourself or just curious about what they do, I hope this has given you a better idea of what goes into supporting families during the amazing journey of childbirth.

What are doula bag essentials?

As a doula, I always make sure my bag is packed with essential items to support my clients during labour and postpartum.

Firstly, I include a change of clothes, toothbrush, and hairbrush to help me feel refreshed after long hours of support.

A rebozo is also a must-have for various comfort measures, such as supporting the belly or providing counter-pressure on the lower back.

To create a calming atmosphere, I carry battery-powered candles and massage oils to help my clients relax into labour.

Energy bars and a few different drinks (water, electrolytes, coconut water) to help me and my clients stay fuelled during labour.

My phone and phone charger are crucial for staying connected and informed. A card or board game can help distract during early labour.

For reference, I carry a few books on childbirth and postpartum support.

And for downtime, I have a crochet or knitting project to keep my hands busy while my clients rest.

These items help me provide the best possible support to my clients, and make sure that I’m comfortable and prepared for anything that may come up.

berenice-horthy-author
Bere Horthy

As a doula and nurse, Bere's mission is to empower and educate women, families, and fellow doulas to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey.

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