Ever wonder what’s in your our Portland postpartum doula’s birth bag? Well, to celebrate World Doula Week, we’re sharing a few of our favorite tools we carry in our birth bag and to postpartum visits. You may be surprised not only by how little we carry, but the focus of what we carry.
Every once in awhile potential clients ask us what we carry in our birth bag. They’re assuming we have an endless supply of massage tools, lotions, LED candles for setting the birth atmosphere, and probably a satchel of magic doula dust. While these are usually found in our doula bags, they are the least important of what we carry.
When we all started working as doulas, we had humongous bags full of all of those things. (My first bag had wheels and probably weighed 10 pounds!). You see, the tools gave us confidence and something tangible to tell us we could help.
But, as we found our way in the doula world, we realized what was important for ourselves AND our clients. The result: our bags got smaller and the main focus of the content changed.
We learned that we needed less “things” and already had the most important tools: our voice, hands, and ability to empathize. We were enough!
We learned that birth and postpartum is stressful, can be long, can alter your normal sleeping and eating patterns. Instead of LED candles, we needed food to sustain us, change of clothes, lots of water, and practical items likes breath mints and hair ties because comfort is important. And shoes. Comfortable shoes (or nonskid socks for postpartum visits).
What Can You Take Away from This?
You see, we’ve learned that we have to take care for ourselves; low blood sugar, sleep deprived support people are not good support people! This goes for your partners, friends and family during birth and postpartum, too!
Even more importantly, the message of taking care of yourself translates to YOU during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. You’ve probably heard the “oxygen mask” metaphor; put yours on first so you can care for others. This is incredibly true during parenthood, and hard to remember.
During labor, your birth bag should be small, but full of comfort and sustainability items for you and your partner(s). Comfortable shoes, changes of clothes, snacks, chap stick, hair ties, music, scents you like. Practical and Sustainable are the themes!
As a parent- navigating caring for others,sleeplessness, feeding babies, hormone changes, relationship changes- its stressful! Caring for yourself practically and sustainability is what helps you do your best! We know you may feel selfish for asking for help, taking time for yourself, spending a few extra dollars for date night. But these are really the Necessities of parenting. You can live without baby swing like a doula can live without a head massager! Put your emphasis on sleep, nourishment, and practical items that make your day easier!
My favorite example of a parent’s “bag” is that of my husband. When he was caring for our sons he would go on outings with a diaper in his back pocket and a ziplock with about 4 wipes, crossed fingers that he wouldn’t need anything else, and patience if he did. He rarely came home wishing he had a huge bag full of things. He had himself and the necessities! And hey- second time parents often figure this out, so much so that LUV’s created a commercial to capture this shift of thinking!
So, next time you wonder what’s in your doula’s bag, just know it’s full of everything she needs to be there with you. Magic doula dust never runs out because it comes from their dedication to you and your family!
Some real-life examples of what our doulas see as the most important tools they bring with them:
Jen Ames-Brown: Supportive Shoes (yes!), Lots of water, change of clothe
Jennie Morris: Water, Phone Charger, Snacks
Tiffany Decker: Altoids- lots of altoids, Labor Progress Handbook, hair ties for mom, comfy shoes and warm socks (for me)
Rachel: Protein bars, electrolyte water, warm clothes, chapstick, change of clothes, comfy shoes
Claire Wilson: Gum, lavender oil, change of clothes
Claire Hoffman: Rebozo, peppermint essential oil, deodorant
Freddie Spring: Postpartum bag: Change of clothes, blanket, toothpaste, hand balm