As labor doulas, we often say that our favorite and essential things we bring to births are our heads, our hearts, and our hands.
We bring our heads which are full of wisdom, information, and knowledge pertaining to birth to help in each unique birth setting. We bring our hearts as caring advocates for our clients and their interests and needs. And we bring our hands for comfort, massage, and physical support.
When I discuss this in doula trainings, I say that our heads, our hearts, and our hands are the most important tools we can bring… but sometimes they get tired! This is where the other items I bring really come in handy.
When Your Head Gets Tired
Having some items to refer to during your birth will help you deliver better care to your client. You are not expected to know everything in every moment; especially after being sleep deprived! It can also be a confidence boost, as you are able to double-check your thoughts and confirm that what you know is right! Here are some items that I carry:
- CAPPA Labor Doula Manual – As you know as a CAPPA doula, our manual is jammed pack with all the p’s and q’s of doula work. From medical interventions to birth affirmations, just go to the table of contacts and navigate through the information you need.
- Spinning Babies Quick Reference – This affordable guide helps provide ideas for positions in labor in relevance to your client’s labor patterns. Just flip to your situation and it gives recommendations. It’s very handy!
- Evidence Based Birth Pocket Guide – If you know anything about EBB, you know the quality of their content is incredible. This guide is basically a shortened version of the evidence behind certain interventions and comfort measures during birth. It’s a great tool to have on hand when your client has decisions to make during birth. These go on sale sporadically.
When Your Heart Gets Tired
We have all been there. Those births that are just so difficult that you don’t know if you can make it through. When we are still in the midst of those difficult circumstances, we continue to be the unbiased, continuous support that we have promised to provide. If you’ve been there, you know how hard this can be. Here’s some things I’ve used to help during these times.
- Backup Doula – We always encourage our doulas to work and have a backup on hand at every birth. I’m not recommending calling in your backup during a difficult birth though. I’m recommending having a connection with them so you can reach out at these times. Sometimes it may just be bringing your phone to a quick bathroom break and giving them a call to update and seek support. Knowing you are not alone (because you are not!) can help you get outside yourself to continue to be there for your client.
- Note from mentor – I have the sweetest gift from a former mentor that I keep in my doula bag. It’s a makeup bag that says “Brave” on the front with a note from her with the kindest words in it. I have filled it with my personal items to take on short breaks. Having that on hand, especially in the middle of the night, has been a lasting source of comfort that I have extended to my clients.
- Affirmation Cards for Birth Workers – If the former options are not available to you, these sweet cards from EBB are lovely and a great tool to have in your bag.
When Your Hands Get Tired
Phew, I’ve been here so many times and I’m thankful for my birth bag tools! Every doula has their “bag of tricks” that are unique and different but these are the ones I use at nearly every birth.
- Electric Fan – This little thing does wonders for my client. They love the white noise and the strong air flow. I use the fan a lot while my clients labor in the water or while they’re pushing. Much easier than fanning them myself!
- Massagers – I have several that I rotate through based on the preference of my clients! I use tennis balls and coke cans a lot, but these are also some of my favorites.
- TENS Unit – A comfort measure that is not commonly used in America is the TENS Unit. You can learn more about it here, but overall it is great when the massage you are giving may not be deep enough for your client or they need a distraction for their minds. It is a great item to have in hand or educate your clients about, so they can carry it themselves! You may also enjoy using one of these on yourself after a long birth!
We are often looked up to as a source of security and stabilization. But you and I both know that none of us are perfect. Claim that and be okay with finding some resources to help you in those difficult moments. As each doula grows in their work, they find those exact things they feel help support them best. Do you use these items too? What are your go-tos when your head, heart, or hands get tired?
Happy Doula-ing! 🙂
CLD, CAPPA Faculty
Katie Terry has been a Certified Labor Doula in the north Alabama area since 2013. She became a labor doula after having a “home away from home birth” with a Certified Professional Midwife in Tennessee. She knew if it weren’t for the positive information and resources provided to her by women in her community, including her mother, she would not have had that experience. She then wanted to do the same for mothers and families in the area for whatever birth experience they desire. Katie is Owner of The Shoals Doula Group and has mentored 5 other doulas in becoming Certified Labor Doulas as well. She became faculty with CAPPA in 2017 and plans to start Labor Doula Trainings in early 2018. She is a board member of the Alabama Birth Coalition and is actively involved with the community through La Leche League, ICAN, and Babywearers of the Shoals. Katie and her husband Jeremy live in Florence, AL with their two boys and are expecting a new addition April of 2018. They love cheering on their alma mater (Roar Lions!) and serving the community with their Redeemer Church of the Shoals family.