Have you ever wondered what's in a birth doula's Bag of Tricks?
Today, let's take a peek inside of one of the Emerald Doula's birth bags and see the collection of everyday objects we bring with us to each and every birth we attend. Note: This doula bag is representative of only what *this* specific doula carries with her (In this case, you're looking through the bag of EmDo Co-Owner, Ashley Rankin Collins). Other doulas may bring other things, or include additional items (or less) in their own bags!
See? Every. Day. Objects. Now, let's get into the details of the whats and whys:
1. Clip-on, battery operated fan: Laboring people get HOT. Besides being a sign of active labor, a birthing person is doing some work (and by that, we mean, they're doing SO MUCH work) to bring their baby into the world. That work, movement, and energy makes one very, very warm. This clip-on fan is a great way to cool them down a little (and it keeps our hands available for counter pressure instead of using them for fanning with papers and folders).
2. Twinkle Lights: We've written before about the power of a strand of twinkle lights. They can transform a space from a cold, bright, sterile room into a birth cave. Plus, they set the most beautiful mood lighting every for welcoming a baby.
3. Personal Care Stuff for the Doula: Sometimes we're with clients for an extended period of time. Keeping a few personal care items (like face wipes, a hair brush, toothpaste and a toothbrush, mouthwash, deodorant and hand lotion) ensure we can stay fresh while we're near or close to your side during your labor. A solid half of Ashley's doula bag is dedicated to stuff that only she'll use (including a spare pair of glasses, extra contacts and yep, that's dry shampoo and instant coffee in the back).
4. A Rebozo: Oh, the rebozo. Since Ashley is a rebozo instructor, she can't imagine attending a birth without hers. From covering the clocks to using it for squatting and positioning, even massage and counter pressure... this rebozo can tell some tales. Plus, come one. It's SO beautiful, right? Snag your own during an upcoming Rebozo Date night, and add it to your own birth bag.
5. All the snacks: Doulas are Snack Masters. It's true. We know the importance of grabbing a quick bite to eat at the first chance to do so (often times while a birthing person is in the restroom or visiting with family) because that chance may not happen again. Ashley also carries an additional small lunch box with a simple meal inside to eat whenever she can (sometimes in the car on the way home from birth!).
6. A neutral-smelling massage oil: This is important if we're rubbing your back or legs, so that we're not rubbing your skin at the same time. Little-to-no smell is always a good thing in labor, too.
7. & 9. LED candles: See item No. 2: Twinkly Lights for more insight on this. But these candles are often used around the tub so that there's enough light to move around, but not so much that it distracts a birthing person.
8. Essential Oils and Cotton Pads: A diffuser and essential oils are a great way to further personalize a birthing space. Ashley helps birthing families decide which oils they want to include in their own birth bag. The cotton pads are especially important because preferences often change in birth and it's easier to dab oil onto the pad and throw it away quickly if needed, than it is to change the entire room's scent with a diffuser.
10. Massage Tools: Truth be told, we don't often use these in labor. More often than not, we're using our hands or rebozo for massage and counter pressure.
11. Rice Sock: So, so helpful if a birthing person has a backache due to a baby's position (hello, back labor), or if they're just fatigued. Heated in a microwave for a minute or two, and we've got ourselves a mobile heating pad!
12. Alcohol Pads: This is a trick we learned from our nurse friends! Sniffing an alcohol swab is a quick way to get rid of nausea sometimes!
13. Business Cards: We LOVE working the the local OBs and midwives and are so, so proud of the professional relationships we've built with them. We keep business cards handy so we can have the opportunity to collaborate outside of the birth space!
14. A small speaker: Most of our clients bring their own speakers and some hospitals now have a noise machine in each room, so we don't often use this. But, when we do need it, it's so handy to provide music or sounds as a distraction/coping technique.
15. Kleenex: Those hospital tissues will make your nose so raw! So, Ashley carries a small package of softer tissues for this reason.
16. A TENS Unit: Oh, boy. We could extoll on the wonders of a TENS Unity any day! It's so helpful for backache relief, and for distraction and coping in labor. While the evidence does tell us that it's best if a TENS is applied and used in the earliest stages of labor (In fact, we rent them, so you can have one handy at the first labor sign), we do often take a kit with us just in case a family wants to try it in labor.
17. Hair Ties and a Headband: This is for both a laboring person (if needed) and for the doula! See Item No. 1 for the fact that labor is HOT, and having hair on your neck is annoying and distracting.
There you have it. The magic inside of the bag.
Of course, the magic inside the bag isn't actually magic at all, is it? But, when these things are combined with the skill and calming presence of an experienced doula, or used at various points in labor, it can feel like magic to a birthing family.