As a part of World Doula Week, doula's far and wide have been encouraged by the organizers to let the world know what a doula carries in her birth bag. Although the best tools of the trade can not be bought, there are many other things that can aid a woman through the many stages of labour.
I carry my birth bag with me to home births, hospital births and pretty much every where I go. You never know when it's contents might come in handy and be put to good use.
So let's get started with my favourite.....homeopathics. These can be used throughout labour to treat a variety of issues that might arise including anxiety, restlessness, shock, fear, weakness, exhaustion, bruising, spasms, excessive bleeding and labour progression/irregular contractions. Homeopathy has an excellent safety record and its remedies are non-toxic and when correctly chosen, stimulate the body to heal its own health problems.
If you're looking for non-medical pain relief, then you're in luck with our TENS machine. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This little machine gives out pulses of electrical energy. These pulses prevent pain signals from reaching your brain. The pulses also stimulate your body to release its own, natural, feel-good substances called endorphins.
That piece of folded green fabric shown in the photo above is know as a rebozo. A rebozo is a traditional Mexican shawl, which is long enough to wrap around a woman's body. It is used in labour as a comfort measure in reducing back pain, pelvic tension and it can aid in keeping labour moving along. Check out this Pregnancy.com to view videos of rebozos in action.
Essential oils play a large role in labour and childbirth. They can be used to calm a nervous mom or dad, to alleviate back pain, to soothe tired and ached muscles and to lift your spirits when you're feeling discouraged. Essential oils can be applied topically but can also be inhaled.
Massage is a key element to labour. Some moms crave touch while others would prefer to be left alone. A gentle touch using massage tools, my hands and my favourite arnica massage oil can soothe and relax a mother during intense contractions and while resting in between.
Meditation magnets are gentle reminders that can be held in your hand while facing one contraction at a time. I'll often slip one of these in to the palm of the labouring mom so she can read messages that include words like patience, love, trust, surrender and breathe.
Both home births and hospital births often require a pooper scooper especially if you're birthing in a birth pool or tub. It's not easy to hold it all in when you're pushing out a baby so the least I can is keep the water clean so that mom can focus on the task at hand instead of worrying about the dirty bits.
Another wonderful addition to my birth bag is the Labour Link. The Labour Link is a rope device approximately three feet long with clear, vinyl handles. This handy piece of equipment has great potential for shortening second stage (the pushing phase) by helping mom focus her pushes and get the most out of each one.
So now you know it all. My tricks of the trade are out on the table. There is however a handful of things that a doula brings to a birth that can not be bought and stuffed in a bag....patience, knowledge, experience, empathy and trust in the birth process.