What's in My Doula Bag?

I get this question lot! So here's a list of some of the things I will bring a birth...

When I was a new doula, this is what was in my doula bag based on what I learned at my very first doula training:

These were for my clients:

  1. Honey sticks

  2. Hair ties

  3. Massage tools

  4. Battery operated tea lights

  5. Essential oils and diffuser

  6. Hot/cold pack (rice sock)

  7. Massage oil

  8. Eye mask to sleep

This is what I packed for myself:

  1. Power bars and candy

  2. Toothbrush and deodorant

  3. Advil

  4. Tampons/pads

  5. Money for the coffee machine

After almost 20 years of working as a doula, and several hundred births later, things have changed a little....

I learned that the most effective tools I can have in my doula bag are my hands and a genuine love and passion for the work I do. In addition to those two essentials, I also bring...

For Clients:

  1. TENS machine

  2. A long scarf to be used for sifting and positioning in labor

  3. Essential Oils

  4. Massage oil (such as sweet almond oil-- they each get their own travel size)

  5. Battery operated tea lights

  6. Flash light (for when mother is pushing and doesn't want lights on)

  7. Gloves (non-latex)

  8. Hair ties

  9. Emesis basin

  10. Birthing Pool (I rent this)

For myself:

  1. Toothbrush/floss, Deodorant

  2. Advil and all of my supplements

  3. Changes of clothes

  4. Tampons and pads

  5. Computer (to watch movies or catch up on work during long stretches of sleeping clients)

  6. Fresh Food - No power bars (I get sick from too much coffee and processed food)

  7. An assortment of tea bags (there is nothing better than a hot cup of tea during a long, stressful birth-- hospitals usually have honey packets they will let you use)

  8. Heating pad (I get very cold when I'm tired)

Remember that bringing YOUrself is the most effective tool you can bring to a birth.

My doula bag has changed a lot throughout the years. While there are a few key items I always need (like a toothbrush), I have found that my hands, a calming presence, my confidence, and my voice were that was needed to decrease a client's pain or help her find her rhythm in labor. In fact, there are times when my doula bag sits in the corner, unopened. Don't put too much weight into the doula bag you create when you are a new doula because not will not be the bag you bring 100 births later. So don’t put too much time or money into what your bag does or doesn’t have. You’ll figure it out. Sometimes the most important lesson you'll learn is that the number of items you need for your clients will likely be less than the number of items you'll need for yourself. Especially if you have special accommodates that you need, such as if you are breastfeeding and pumping, you must put a priority on your self-care items.

Doulas must learn that in order to care for others, we must care for ourselves.

Happy birthing!



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