A Doula’s Essentials: Unpacking My Birth Bag
A red bag on a bed with a person's hand reaching in.

I’m often asked what I carry in my birth bag. the truth of the matter is that I carry a lot fewer things the longer I’ve been a doula. but I still have some things that I love that I wouldn’t leave home without. so without further ado here are my favorite things for my birth bag.

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I love the roller ball massagers for a lot of reasons. Namely, they are easier for me to hold on to and provide firm and consistent pressure when I’m pressing it into someone. This is particularly important when you’re tired or if you have issues with your hands like arthritis or something else that affects the strength or creates pain if you massage with hands alone for too long. A note – you can buy them on a stick if you prefer. I’ve not used these but I’d imagine that they are fine. I also like to get the metal ones because they retain heat and cold better than the regular ones. No matter which you get – turn it upside down in a cup of ice and viola – you have a cold massager. Buy the Roller Ball Massager; Buy the Cold/Metal Roller Ball Massager
These make great fans. When you buy them in bulk, they are fairly inexpensive. I give at least one to every client because they always want to keep them to use after the baby. I do give it before in my client goodie bag, but I always have extras in my doula bag. Sometimes the client is fanning themselves, and the partner and I have fans and are fanning too! It’s a fun little thing that packs a big punch in comfort. Buy Foldable Frisbees

This is something that you could also possibly purchase with your company logo on it.

This is another item in my client’s goodie bag. They get a pair! This is used for acupressure points on the hands. The client grips on in each hand. Remember learning about the Diffuse Noxious Inhibitory Control theory of pain relief in labor? This is one of the stars of the show! This is simple and easy. Your client can do it alone or with others. You can have them use it in the car. No side effects and no restrictions! I even use this with an epidural for people who feel more discomfort or pain than they expected. It’s simple, inexpensive, and really handy. (No pun intended!) I like the 5-inch comb with no handle. You can do whatever you can find. Buy 5 Inch Plastic Combs
Seriously you never know when someone is going to throw up. it could be at their house or in the parking lot or even in the car. while I do not use these at every single birth, I am so glad I have them in my bag. It has prevented me from having to clean up a mess in so many places. You may have a nurse help you clean up a mess at the hospital, at someone’s house I usually wind up doing it. Buy the Vomit Bags
For home births and birth centers, I love this tool. it can also be used while you’re still at home but for a hospital birth. it is large enough to cover the entire back and it is soft enough that you can press through it and still do counter pressure. the only reason I don’t take it to a hospital is because it makes it hard to keep it cool and I often forget it in my very own freezer. Buy Large Ice Pack for Back
This is the next best thing. these are soft and large. you can refill them. it also allows you to add as much or as little ice as you would like. it’s got straps on it so that you could tie it to a certain body part, but I actually usually wind up tearing these off or cutting them off because they just wind up dangling and getting a little silly. While these are reusable, they are used for only one client at a time. so if you use it with a client, throw it away. It does not go to the next client. Buy Refillable Ice Bags
Technically it’s not my birth bag, but I do keep a 65 cm birth ball in my car. If the hospital doesn’t have one, if it is underinflated, or no one can find a pump, or if it is in use with someone else, I can pull this one out of my car if need be. They are easily found in many big box stores under the exercise section often sold in yoga. just double-check the materials and size. Buy a 65 cm Birth Ball
Much like the birth ball, I keep a 50 cm peanut ball in my trunk. I can run out and get it if I need it so that I know I always have one if I have a client who has a need, but I’m not hauling it through the hospital all the time. I will also say that if I take a birth or peanut ball inside the hospital, it is now a gift to the hospital. I don’t bring it home. Buy 50 cm Peanut Ball
This is a luxury item but it usually costs about 15 dollars, if you don’t already have one in your garage, a ball pump will allow you to blow up a ball quickly. I also like the little ball removal tool that comes with the ball that you buy. be sure to save that. If you forget it or lose it you can always snag a set on Amazon to leave in your bag. Buy an Electric Air Pump; Buy a Ball Tool Kit
If you’ve taken my water birth class you know that I love myself some long gloves. these are great for when you have a client who is birthing in the water or laboring in the water and they want a lot of counter pressure or any kind of touch that would involve me touching water. since you don’t know what kind of things are in the water it’s always important to protect yourself. these long gloves are inexpensive enough that you can get them and use them at birth. So I always have a few pairs stuffed in my birth bag. Buy Shoulder Length Gloves for Water Birth
I like to make sure that I have gloves that fit and that I know that I prefer. while I’m not doing anything medical, I also like to use these for things like holding vomit bags or picking up wet towels with amniotic fluid. and so many other things as well. I always put a couple of these gloves in my pocket for when I’m at a birth and when I need it I can just slip one or two on. I prefer those without powder – Be sure to think about that and the sizing for your hands. Try some at the hospital if you’re not sure of the size. Buy Vinyl Disposable Gloves


A doula sits on the bed packing her doula backpack while filming it with her phone.

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