What’s in Your Doula Bag – Let’s Break it Down
The “What” of Your Doula Bag:
This mysterious, ever present item/idea/tool carrier, called your doula bag, that we have long been taught is the necessary sidekick to a truly prepared and skilled Doula.
It is the source of endless questions by new doulas: “What items do you put in your doula bag??”
It is a source of questions by seasoned doulas: “What is your favorite bag to use as your doula bag? I need something that holds more/is easier to handle!”
It becomes expensive and obsolete: “Where do you get the cheapest honey sticks,TENS units, combs, etc?” “How often are you actually using the items in your doula bag?”
The “Why” of Your doula Bag:
Why are you motivated to build your doula bag?
We have been being taught for years that we are not ready to go be a doula without a well stocked bag. And I don’t know about you, but in my early days, it sure did contribute to easily feeling inept and unprepared to support a client, if an item or two happened to be missing one day.
Prior to ProDoula, every source of doula training and doula community I was a part of, taught me that I needed these things with me if I wanted to be ready to respond to a client’s needs in labor and that without them, I was not only unprepared, but negligent.
But what was that about? Why would I be unprepared to support someone if I didn’t have a honey stick or a massage tool in a bag? It was a pretty big burden to bear!
Today, I think very differently about this mysterious sidekick and I hope you will too. It is not the necessary crutch that I was once led to believe it was, and I don’t need it, to be exactly who & what a client needs in labor. Neither do you.
You, my friend, are a doula. You are trained and prepared to support a laboring person through attunement and practical skills which are able to mold and bend to the unique needs of each moment.
And this preparation has nothing to do with the physical items you carry in your doula bag.
Did you know that if the unexpected happened, you could show up to a client in your bathing suit without a single doula-y thing and support your client? –I’m not saying this what any of us wants to do, but could it be done? Of course it could! Because supporting your laboring client has nothing to do with what items are in your doula bag.
It has everything to do with you showing up, being present, attuning, and responding to the needs as they present themselves.
That is support!
Be ready to utilize the useful items at your fingertips in the birth location you’re in, and know that they are an excellent tool kit in and of themselves!
Let’s remember the client in this equation. I’d like to suggest that the idea and insistence that your doula bag be stocked with prescribed items, is much more about the doula than it is about the client. Yep, I said it. It’s not about the client. It’s about the doula.
Instead, encourage your clients in prenatal visits to explore and consider whatever items, tools, methods they wish to have available during their labor. Let the client determine need based on the options you provide! They can build their own compilation of items which one might call their birth bag!
When they take ownership of bringing (or not bringing) items for use during labor, it maintains a component of control which ultimately leads to their self empowerment, which I know is what we really want for our laboring clients.
So in the end, what should really go in your doula bag?
For me, my phone, phone charger, easy to carry snacks & hydration, a sweatshirt, and personal hygiene items are enough. If I’m feeling extra proactive I’ll take a spare t-shirt that waits in my car, on the off chance that things get extra interesting.
For Doulas who are carrying a personal breast pump or items related to their own health needs, be sure to remember any ice packs/containment items you need for those.
Carry items, or don’t carry them, with intention! In this case, I believe that less is more.