What’s in Your Doula’s Bag? Secrets revealed!

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You’ve read about the benefits of having Doula support during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum time, and you love the idea of having someone dedicated completely to your comfort! So you schedule a consultation.

Now you’re super curious about the mysterious “Doula Bag.” What magically comforting items are nestled within the Dulce and Gabbana she’s carrying? Let’s take a look!

Here’s how to tell how experienced she is.

If she’s a new Doula, she may have some massage tools, a few essential oils, a Rebozo (I’ll tell you later), massage oil, a rice-sock or other heat pad, lip balm, hair ties, and a few things for herself.

Looks like great stuff, right?

Well, let’s take a look at what an experienced Doula’s bag looks like.

She’s carrying her wallet and keys, and maybe her phone. That’s it.

Not so fun, huh. So why the difference, and why does it matter? Because it DOES matter.

All of those items that a new Doula is carrying sound so fun, right? And they can all be very useful and comforting for a woman in labor, IF the woman has chosen those items herself.

Let’s take those massagers, for instance. You see, the true value of massage tools is that a woman practices with them during her pregnancy and teaches her partner how to use them to help her relax. That way, during early labor, before you need your Doula, you can bond as a couple with massage that’s comfortable. If your Doula starts using a spiked wooden rolling pin on your back in labor and you’re not used to it, it won’t help you relax!

And the essential oils? Some women react beautifully to Lavender or Lemon, and it melts away any muscle tension immediately. Other women? Not so much. The most effective way to prepare with essential oils is to try a few out during your pregnancy and decide which ones are most helpful to YOU, and then pack a few in your hospital bag. Your Doula can massage them into your muscles during labor in a comforting mind/body experience.

Here’s the scoop with Rebozos- traditional Mexican scarves used to provide comfort during labor. You can certainly purchase an authentic traditional Rebozo if you’d like, and you can use it throughout your pregnancy to tie underneath your growing abdomen to lift your belly and provide back support. Or you can wrap it around your hips in early labor for a comforting hip-squeeze. After baby is born, you can use it to wrap baby to you in a traditional carry style. They’re fabulous tools! But if your doula is bringing the same Rebozo from one birth client to the next, you’re missing out on the pregnancy and postpartum benefits. And you may not know what you’re getting. Any experienced Doula can fashion anything in your labor room to work for the Rebozo purpose; a bedsheet, a long towel, she’s creative.

Here’s what it means when your Doula doesn’t bring a bag of stuff: it means that she can confidently and creatively make ANYTHING in your labor room be a magically comforting item. It means that she can turn a nitrile glove into an amazingly effective hot pack, or turn that gauze pad into the solution for your headache.

It means that your experienced Doula is planning to use her head, her hands and her heart to give you everything you need during this intense ordeal. And she’s good at it. She doesn’t rely on a bag of stuff, because she knows that what you need when you’ve reached your limit, is not a fresh coat of lip balm, you need her to look deeply in your eyes and find that hidden reservoir of strength – and she will pull it out of you!

So when you’re interviewing Doulas, ask what’s in her bag.

Mary C. Stelter is a Certified Labor and Postpartum Doula Trainer, and owns Doulas of Los Angeles, a full service Doula agency offering Labor & Postpartum Doula care, and Whole Woman Consulting to families in the greater L.A. area. She specializes in supporting parents of multiples with sleep and feeding challenges. Mary, and her husband Jared, are the proud parents of 5 children, including a set of identical twin girls.