As doulas we are always looking to add tools to our doula bag. Clients will often learn in different ways, so having a variety of comfort measures and educational tools can help us connect with you. In today’s blog we are looking at the top 10 items your doula will carry. Every doula will be just a little bit different, but these are the items you’re most likely to come across.
You may have seen your doula carrying around a small electrical device. That’s what we call the TENS Machine. It stands for Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Your doula will attach small patches to your back and use a mild electrical current to help ease pain during labour. It’s a super useful comfort measure since most birthing persons are eligible to use it.
It’s effective because electrical impulses can reduce the pain signals going to the brain, which may help relieve pain and relax muscles during labour. They can also stimulate the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. Talk to your doula about their TENS experience and see if they have a machine handy.
One of the items that is most synonymous with doulas is a birth ball! A birth ball is great for sitting and leaning on during pregnancy and labour. It works well both for a home birth and a hospital birth, as there are several different positions to try out. They have been shown to help progress labour. It may also help increase your pelvic outlet space, thereby creating more space for your baby to be born. Talk to your doula if you’re having a hospital birth to see if they’re available there (they usually are).
Is there anything better than setting the mood with candlelight? Many doulas have little battery operated candles they bring with them. You may want to add your own too. And if you’re having your baby at home, or for early labour, you can definitely use your own real candles. Watching the flame can be so meditative. What a great focal point!
This is a tool many people don’t expect to see in a doula bag! No, it’s not about getting your hair to look perfect. A comb can assist with pain management during labour. When gripping a comb in your hand, it can stimulate certain acupuncture points. It also forces your brain to focus on that activity, which can help create a distraction for your brain, instead of just thinking about labour pain. Most doulas will be sure to have multiple comb options available!
Birth affirmation cards
How great are affirmations!? This is one tool that some clients will underestimate. There is such a value in bringing positive and empowering messages into your pregnancy and birth. Some affirmations will resonate with you more than others. We work with clients early in pregnancy to identify which affirmations will be most helpful on the big day.
You can of course make your own cards, purchase some online, or even just save memorable ones to your phone. We like the idea of having physical cards with you during labour, since it’s easy to flip through them multiple times. Our friends over at Doula School have a great pack of 50+ cards that we always love. You can also search on Amazon or Etsy to find some truly inspiration designs.
There is always some moment in labour where you’re waiting around. Whether it’s in triage when you first arrive or maybe when you’re waiting for your epidural to kick in. Getting a lovely hand or foot massage (hopefully both) during that time is a perfect relaxation activity when few other options exist. Your doula will likely have an unscented option but feel free to grab your own massage oil with your favourite scent to bring along.
Lip balm can be a useful tool throughout your entire pregnancy. Since hospital air is SO dry, your lips can often get dried out and feel chapped. As doulas, we like to keep lip balm handy. We often ask you to pack your own too and have that handy.
Speaker for music
Never underestimate the power of music! Music during labour has been shown to help a lot. Since your body focuses on the stimulus of music, it may actually perceive other stimulus less. It can also assist with regulating your breathing. Sometimes it’s easier to match your breathing to the rhythm of music instead of in silence. It will also drown out the other hospital or home sounds that may feel distracting.
We tell clients to create a playlist that YOU will love and that helps you feel relaxed. There is no one “type” of music for birth. Maybe you love a good ol’country song that has a lot of nostalgia from your childhood. Or you want banging techno music that makes your birth space feel more like a rave. It’s totally your decision. YOU are the conductor of the music. Your doula can often bring a Bluetooth speaker or something to play it on.
Depending on where you are giving birth, there may be larger mirrors available. However, many doulas will carry a small mirror in their doula bag. This is great if the birthing person wants to see exactly what is happening as the pushing stage is progressing. Your doula can use the small mirror to help you get a glimpse of those special moments. Even if you’re sitting there right now thinking “NO way I want to see THAT” you might find yourself changing your mind in labour.
Shawl or Pashmina
Doulas love to have a wrap to be able to better support you in various positions. From helping to lift some of the weight of your baby belly when in hands and knees to giving you something to hold onto/pull during the pushing stage… having a shawl can be super handy. You will find you can stay in many positions longer because of this support.
If you’re interested in adding a doula to your birth team, you can meet our incredible team by clicking here.