Doula work is serious stuff for many reasons. One reason is because doulas truly are there for your birth, whether it be 20 minutes or 20 hours. Of course you can’t give from an empty cup and experienced doulas know that they must practice self care both during and after a birth.
We all know that doulas bring a doula bag full of goodies and things that can help mom and dad. But some of the most important stuff in the doula bag isn’t for the client- it’s for the doula! This ensures that she is at her best and can help them out!
We asked some of our favorite doulas what their essential self care items that they keep in their doula bags were. Here are their answers!
Here are our 17 doula bag must haves for great self care-
Change of clothes-
Birth can take some time. And…it can get messy! Pack some extra clothes for YOU!
Sometimes after 12 or so hours of labor a doula can feel a little yuck. Mouthwash ensures that you can talk to mama without offending her plus it can wake you up if you are getting tired.
Cash and coins-
We can totally rely on credit cards much of the time, but sometimes vending machines only take cash. Keep some on hand.
Moisturizing eye drops-
This is especially important if have contacts!
Toothbrush and toothpaste-
There is just something about brushing your teeth that gives you a boost and makes you feel like a new person. Plus, the people around may appreciate it too.
You can’t keep working while you starve. Sometimes there is food available at the birth place, but you can’t depend on it, especially if you have specific dietary needs or allergies. Bring easy to transport, healthy, protein rich snacks. From nuts to protein bars or beef jerky, there are lots of options. Take them all!
Painkillers- mom may want a natural birth free of pain medication, but sometimes doulas get headaches and can’t leave to take care of it with their chiropractor!
If you are an essential oil lover, bring your favorites for a pick me up, mood lift, a headache, or whatever you may have need of. Of course, be thoughtful of the others around.
Hoodie for cold hospital rooms-
Layer your clothes! The birthing mom is working hard and often likes the room colder than is comfortable for others. Her needs win! Bring your hoodie.
Not much is worse than cracked, dry lips. Not really, but they sure can be distracting. Bring your favorite lip balm. It can also help cheer you up if you need a quick refresh. If you are more glamorous, bring your lipstick!
It’s hard to relax when you have BO, but you might be working hard and working up a sweat. Bring extra deodorant!
We’ve mentioned fresh breath a few times because…well- it’s important. Pack some mints!
Mom isn’t the only one who needs a good water bottle and constant hydration. Bring your favorite and keep it full.
Pads or feminine needs-
Nobody wants to be caught unawares with nothing to catch the flow. Even if you are super regular, many doulas report that the hormones and excitement of being around a birthing mom can cause them to start their period unexpectedly. Pack extra things for your feminine needs.
Being a doula can be a full body workout and you might just love to have your hair out of your way. Bring hair ties!
Refreshing face wash-
A splash of water and your favorite face wash can really perk you up and help you feel renewed! Peppermint face wash works great!
This seems obvious, but a phone charger is a must have, especially since you could be at a birth for a while. And while you certainly won’t be on your phone playing Pokemon GO, you may have need of a contraction timer app, a chat with a friend on the drive home, or access to your mentor doulas if you have a burning question.
Doula work is some of the most fulfilling work you can ever do as you witness women become mothers and couples become families and people find their inner strength. But we must be charged so we can be a useful part of this powerful process called birth.
Don’t forget your own self-care when you pack your doula bag!
We had some top-notch doulas that contributed to this article with their fab tips. We love them!
Emilie Wilson is a doula and childbirth educator in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Heather Whitcomb is a doula in Pennsylvania. Caryn Westdyk is a doula and childbirth educator in Haslet, TX. Hailie Wolfe is a doula and childbirth educator in Abilene, TX. Alexa Gumm is a doula and childbirth educator in Roswell, Georgia. Cameo Sherman is a doula in the Bowie, Maryland area. Erica-Michael Bullard is a doula in Guam. Rebekah Lewis is a doula in Denton, TX.
Thanks ladies! We couldn’t do it without you!