One of the most popular questions in my Postpartum Doula trainings and on social media is “what should I pack in my postpartum doula bag?”. When discussing this with my students or other new doulas, I often rattle off a list of common items, and then throw a few other ideas at them that they may not have thought of. My bag contents change quite a bit depending on the hours I’m working, and the family’s needs. Now, because of COVID-19, I have found myself needing to update the list once again. Here are some things to consider putting into your postpartum doula bag:
Client file/folder. I have a folder for every family I work with, with their Intake Sheet stapled to the inside cover and a place to take notes. I also have a hardcopy of their signed contract and may throw in some useful handouts.
Pen. I tend to make notes in my folder on things I need to discuss with my clients, or anything out of sorts that I witnessed that needs to be documented. Of course, you can keep notes on your phone too.
Socks with rubber on the soles. This allows me to remove my shoes in their home without slipping and sliding on their floors while holding the baby!
Electronics (cell phone, phone charger, iPad/laptop). When working overnights, there tends to be downtime. I may be able to get some studying done or emails answered if all of my duties are done and everyone is sleeping. For those of you working on your certification, throw your reading books in there too!
Emergency kit. Contact lens solution, aspirin, hand lotion, breath mints, hair tie, menstrual supplies, etc
Dishwashing gloves. Sounds kind of weird, but after you realize how much you are washing dishes, bottles, counters, etc, you quickly realize that your skin is dry and cracked. Gloves can help prevent over-drying of hands.
Paper towels. Since COVID, I have been a lot more aware of surfaces that I come in contact with and some families don’t have paper towels in their homes. After washing my hands, I don’t want to dry them on a towel that others have been using.
Hand sanitizer. We know that the most effective way to remove germs is to wash with soap and water, but sometimes, we need a quick sanitizing, so keep a small bottle on hand.
Sample/demo products for clients. Do you have a great swaddle blanket, babywearing wrap/sling, white noise machine, etc that you’d like to introduce to your clients? Throw them in your bag and give them an opportunity to try them out.
Snacks/water. You need to stay hydrated and nourished doing this work. Select healthy snacks for energy that are quick to eat and don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
My bag contents change frequently. There are a ton of possibilities! The above is just a staple list of items for you to consider, but I would love to hear some suggestions on what you put in your postpartum doula bag (AKA: Mary Poppins Bag).
About the Author
Darla Burns, CLD, CPD, CCCE, CLE has been supporting women and families as a birth doula since 1990 and was certified by DONA in 2003. Finding that she also loved working with the families after they delivered, she then became a CAPPA certified postpartum doula in 2004. Soon thereafter, she became a certified childbirth educator and lactation educator. Her love of working with families and sharing her knowledge with others led her to her position as a faculty member for CAPPA. When she’s not doing doula work, she spends her time with her husband and two great kids.