To start my new blog off I thought I’d start with something about being a doula as this coming year I will complete my training and hope to have a number of clients – I already have one for late March/April. What doulas do is a mystery to many people so why not give a practical insight via the contents of a doula’s bag. At this point I should give credit to the online doula forums that helped me create the list.
Just like expectant mums and dads who have their own ‘birth bag’ packing list, doulas need one too – to be packed and ready for the off at a moment’s notice.
Phone – goes without saying for this item. This usually would be by my bed rather than in the bag. One of the reasons you pay good money for a doula is that they are on call for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the run up to the birth. They don’t mind being called or texted in the middle of the night about a query or worry either. I have also used my phone to call for an ambulance (at the request of the midwife). I haven’t used my phone to call for the midwife – that’s the dad’s job. I’m handmaiden not chief.
I do not use my phone to update social media. I will go on social media blackout on anything to do with you in the run up to the birth, during the birth, and well after. I do not put ‘I’m off to a birth’, because that might alert people you know. It is your baby; it is your news.
Coins – for hospital parking, vending machines (for me, and for you and your partner). We’re a team and I’m your back up, Sherpa type person.
Rebozo – a Mexican shawl which has many uses in labour (and pregnancy).
Lavender, clary sage and oil – I will find out if you like lavender first. I give a good hand massage which can be useful in early labour. Having a tissue with lavender on, or sprinkling a few drops on the curtains can help mask the hospital smell and help you relax. Clary sage essential oil helps contractions move on. It is very powerful and I have used it yet. I tried it in my own last labour and it is strong.
Flannel, spritzer bottle, hand held fan. Your comfort is top priority. Fetching the fan, rinsing out the flannel, passing the spray bottle – this is what a doula does.
Rice sock – for warmth on the back or belly. Mmmm.
Energy tablets, jelly babies, mars bar (triple pack – there’s three of us) – it’s amazing what a pick up a little food can give. Back to the Sherpa idea again.
Lip balm (new).
Hair bands – for you, midwife, partner. A whole pack of new ones. I don’t reuse.
Hand mirror – so you or the midwife can see progress – if you want.
Shower curtain – for protective covering. (Keep having to replace this – very useful at home too and for picnics!)
And for me: deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, hair brush (I’m there for the long haul, from the moment you need me till well after the baby has arrived). Fresh t-shirt – I’m prepared. I might get wet from the birth pool, catch some of your vomit, or just need a freshen up. (All of these have happened.)
I hope this gives you an insight into what doulas do, and don’t. If you have any other ideas for things to add to my bag I’d appreciate it.
The Sherpa analogy isn’t mine, but I think it’s a great one for doulas. It is your mountain. I’ve been up it before, though every climb is different. I don’t want any glory just to help you reach your goal, in the easiest, most comfortable way. Here’s an article about doulas as Sherpas http://thebirthhub.co.uk/doula-sherpas-finding-way-maternity-maze/
I look forward to being your doula, or doula for one of your friends maybe.