Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bendy straws and a rebozo: A look inside my doula bag

One of the questions that new doulas ask is "What should I pack in my doula bag?" I remember this question coming up in my first doula training, and I was baffled. "What? We bring a bag with us?" I don't know why I didn't think I would need a "bag of tricks" to help me as I started attending births, but it really hadn't crossed my mind. The only books I had read so far about birth were Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Marie Mongan's Hypnobirthing, and Penny Simkin's The Birth Partner. I'd actually read that one twice. Once to prepare for my own birth, and again to prepare for my doula training. I'd given birth already, but I didn't have a doula the first time around. Somehow, in all that reading, taking a childbirth class from an experienced doula, and giving birth, I hadn't picked up on the fact that I would need to carry a bag of stuff with me.

So out came our trainer's doula bag. It was huge! It was like a duffle bag on wheels. She had so much stuff in there. I don't even remember everything. Soon after my doula training, tax refund in hand, I marched myself into several stores to fill up my doula bag. I bought lotions and massage oils, essential oils and massage tools, tennis balls, socks, rice to make a rice sock, bendy straws, candies, lip balm, toiletries for me, a rebozo, Penny Simkin's The Labor Progress Handbook, and other stuff that I don't even remember. It was a lot of stuff. I felt ready to go with my awesome bag of neat things. I already had a birth ball from when I was pregnant. 

I headed off to my first birth, doula bag and birth ball in tow. The birth ball got a ton of use, but I realized after that birth that I hadn't used a single thing from my bag. Oh no!

My second birth was within hours of going home from my first birth. In fact, as soon as I got in my car to go home from my first birth, I got a heads up email from my next client. I had just enough time to go home, shower, eat, and grab a short nap before heading to my second birth. Again. I didn't even get to use anything out of my bag! 

Finally by my third birth, I used my rebozo and tennis balls. 

My fourth birth, I made a point to use some essential oils, but then I didn't really get a chance to use anything else. 

Years later, there are still things in that bag that I've never even used. I should probably clean it out and start using a smaller bag. 

When I would see or hear that question, "What should I pack in my bag?" I would answer, "Honestly, I hardly use anything in my bag. I use myself, my hands, and my voice more than anything." I thought I was a weirdo for saying that, but I really just didn't know what else to say. 

Over the years, I've brought my bag to every birth. Every now and then I'll use one or two things out of the bag depending on the situation. My most-used doula bag tools are my rebozo and bendy straws. Seriously. Bendy straws. I used to use my essential oils more, but that was before essential oils became all the rage. When I first started doula work less than four years ago, people didn't know about them. Now everyone knows about them, sells them, and is planning to bring their own. 

I attended a birth recently and it didn't dawn on me until a few days later that I hadn't used anything out of my bag. Again. Except for my bendy straws. A few months ago, I accidentally locked my keys, purse, and doula bag in my car when meeting a client at the hospital. Oops! I thought, "Oh well. I guess I get to see what I'm really made of now." 

I didn't miss it. I did worry about my purse being in the front seat for the world to see. 

I managed to get my car unlocked and retrieved my purse, keys, and doula bag. Did I even use the bag? Not really. I used my rebozo. 

So when I read this post about doula bags this morning, I didn't feel like such a weirdo after all. 

Maybe the next time I attend a birth, maybe I don't have to bring my bag after all. Maybe I can stroll in, wearing my rebozo, bendy straws in hand, armed with the most important thing I can bring- my unwavering faith in YOU

1 comment: