Back when I was researching books, classes and other important aspects of doula work, I really enjoyed reading posts from other doulas about the care and consideration that went into their doula bags. Just choosing what bag to use was a well thought out decision. It has to hold a variety of things, still be comfortable, practical, and stylish. This bag goes with me to prenatal appointments, postpartum visits, and never leaves my side when I’m on call for a mama in those last weeks of pregnancy. Clients and friends are curious to know what lives in my bag, so today I’ve decided to show you.
After much thought, I chose a zippered tote bag by LL Bean. LL Bean products are super durable (I still have a backpack from college that’s lasted well over 11 years) and well made. I really wanted to get the purple one, but alas everything but black was backordered at the time.
The bag comes with all sorts of compartments. In the zippered front pocket I have change for the vending machines, a little notebook and pen, gum, extra business cards and travel package of tissue. In the main compartment I have a spare change of clothes including 2 pairs of socks. I advise all laboring mamas to bring extra socks, and it is no different for doulas. Birth is messy. My normal outfit is a dark colored shirt, black yoga type pants, and slip on clogs. I’ve not had to change my clothes (yet) except to change from long sleeves to short sleeves because I was getting warm working with the shower running. I recommend bringing a backup long sleeve shirt as labor rooms are notoriously cold, and clothes you don’t mind getting wet in case you’re providing counterpressure in the shower or tub. You’ll notice I pack flip flops too, but my normal doula shoes are Clarks clogs that were a less expensive alternative to the well loved Danskos used by other health/birth professionals. I also have a small bag of toiletries in the event of a longer labor. Sometimes freshening up in the morning and changing your shirt can help boost your energy and feel like you’re keeping up with a routine. I also keep a package of disposable tooth brushes in with my bag in case mamas get sick and want to freshen up. Same with extra hair ties, in case the mama wants to get her hair up and out of the way.
Other items include my camera, relaxation and massage tools for the mama, tennis ball, wooden massager, and a small fan. An extra pump for the exercise/birth balls was highly recommended by other doulas when I was doing my research, so I carry one as well. Hotsnapz heat packs have been a handheld lifesaver for me at a few births. They are small yet effective at heating specialized areas like the taiilbone and are easy to clean afterwards. A gardening pad in case I’m kneeling on the floor also lives in my bag but I haven’t had reason to use it yet. I also have a small inflatable neck pillow for me in case I get a nap in during a longer earlier labor phase. Lastly, I keep a lint roller since I do wear black pants and every little bit of fuzz or in the case of home visits, pet fur, seems to show. It keeps my car and I looking professional.
Finally in the main compartment, I have a bag of snacks! They’re for myself and for the laboring mama and/or partner. They’re simple sugars for a boost of energy, honey sticks, fruit snacks, saltines. The rest I’ll bring in my bag when I’m leaving, otherwise I supplement with vending machine or cafeteria fare.
On the side there is a water bottle pocket and in the back there is a long narrow pocket to hold my folder and binder with client information. I carry copies of clients’ birth plans and contracts and take notes during the labor/delivery process to help jog my memory when I write up birth stories later.
Recently, I’ve supplemented this bag along with another smaller tote bag to stash my purse, a woven wrap I use like a rebozo to help clients get into different positions, pump parts since I’m still nursing and sometimes end up taking pumping breaks, and also treats for the nurses. If you bring treats, bring something sweet like cookies or cupcakes. 🙂 So, that’s what my doula bag looks like now. It will be fun to look back after several months to see if I edit anything down or add things. I hope this can be a helpful resource to other doulas or those just starting out in their own research phase.