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Choosing the best birth location for your birth is an individual choice.  Having a friend or family member that liked a birth location won't tell you what that birth location can do for you.  The best way to choose the best birth location for your birth is to take a tour of the location and know the routines and policies that birth location utilizes for birth.  Considering home birth, birth center birth, and hospital birth can all help to provide you with the most well rounded approach to making an informed decision for your birth.  In most cases, your care provider determines the birth location, so choosing the birth location and care provider are choices that go hand in hand.

Trusting your birth location for the options available to you that allow you to feel comfortable laboring in this space for the pregnancy that you are experiencing now will allow your oxytocin levels to be at their highest for labor progression rather than labor suppressing adrenaline.

Why are You Selecting This Birth Location?

Are you selecting a location other than your home?  Do you know why you are selecting home or not your home? Your birth location not only comes with your care provider, but also the team of people working with your care provider.  In most hospital births, your care provider won't even be present until shortly before the actual birth, so you need to be well aware of the staff that you will be interacting with as if they were the chosen care provider.  Routines and policies can influence not only what you may have to request differently than the routines, but the respect you receive during labor, birth, and the days following.

Use the table below as a guide to help you find the best birth location and birth environment for your #happyhealthybirth.

Thoughts and questions to ask yourself and to research about your chosen birth environment Biological Birth Supportive May want to seek other location
I am excited to walk into my chosen birth location and it feels like a place I can kick up my feet and relax if I want to without feeling like I'm burdening anyone YES NO
I enjoy the presence of the staff or assistants available in this birth locations YES NO
I do not have time limits for birth expected of me in this birth location YES NO
Medications are not a first recommendation for labor progression YES NO
Cytotec is NOT a method used for induction at this birth location YES NO
Pitocin is NOT a routine approach to the birth of the placenta or following the birth of the placenta YES NO
Eating and drinking is encouraged, as the mother desires, during labor YES NO
Movement is encouraged through labor YES NO
Quiet, calm, and dark environments are encouraged through labor and birth [the pushing stage], as well as the first few hours after birth YES NO
Using the placenta for postpartum hemorrhage is an option YES NO
The cord is routinely kept intact until the placenta is birthed and the cord becomes white and stops pulsing YES NO
Lotus birth is an option YES NO
Staff do not become aggressive or sarcastic when handling home birth transfers YES NO
Women choose their own labor and birth position YES NO
Doulas are encouraged to be present and respected YES NO
Siblings can be present during labor and birth YES NO
Water (tub or shower) is encouraged and available as a method of relaxation through labor and birth YES NO
Physical and emotional support is a first approach to helping a mom be confident and comfortable through labor, not medications YES NO
Staff encourage me to talk with my birth team about the benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, and choosing not to use a recommendation or option YES NO
Babies are encouraged to be skin to skin with mom, or dad if mom is unavailable YES NO
Mandatory nor encouraged nursery time is NOT a part of routine care YES NO
Experienced lactation providers are available at all hours and days and a part of routine care for new mothers YES NO
Birth partners are encouraged to participate and are supported through labor, birth, and postpartum YES NO
I don't feel like I need a birth guide [birth plan] to get the birth that I desire at this location because the routines and policies align with my views of birth and care throughout labor, birth, and postpartum for me and my baby YES NO

Of course, the ideal is a YES to all of these, right?  At least much more than the majority. Are these the only priorities?  No, of course not... and there are many other factors that will play into the quality and care of a birth location.  Each mother may have different needs that help her determine the specific options she may want to utilize during birth, but facilities and the staff that support in those facilities create an environment of belief of the body's ability, or belief that birth is always a risk waiting to happen.  From unassisted birth to any level of risk, providers can be supportive of birthing families through respectful care.

Choosing the best care provider for your birth is an individual choice.  Having a friend or family member that liked a care provider won't tell you what that care provider can do for you.  The best way to choose the best care provider for your birth is to interview at least one home birth provider and one facility provider.  If you can get to know multiple providers to really understand the way they practice, this is your ideal.  Trusting your provider for their skills and experience and feeling comfortable communicating with them as you would a friend will enable the highest levels of oxytocin flowing in your birth space, rather than nervous adrenaline suppressing your labor progression.

Why are You Hiring a Care Provider?

If your answer to this is, "Because I'm pregnant," or, "Because I need myself and my baby checked regularly to make sure nothing is wrong," then there is a chance you haven't dug deep into the understanding of birth physiology nor sought a provider that works for YOU.  These two types of answers illustrate a belief that birth is risky and that any provider with a midwifery or obstetric related title provides quality care for YOU and for support of biological birth.  Not all providers practice the same.  They shouldn't, either.  We're not looking for cookie cutter providers any more than we're looking for cookie cutter births.  But we are at a time in history where we have access to a LOT of traditional and modern knowledge that can be (and IS being) blended to provide families with holistic support of the entire perinatal period.

Use the table below as a guide to help you find the best care provider, doula, birth team, birth location and birth environment for your #happyhealthybirth.

Thoughts and questions to ask yourself and to research about your chosen birth environment Biological Birth Supportive May want to seek other support
I am excited to see my provider at my prenatals YES NO
My provider listens to my questions and thoughts and engages in respectful conversation with me and is willing to provide me with the birth I desire, or kindly recommend I seek the care of someone else should our views not align YES NO
My provider encourages me to research recommendations and make informed decisions about my pregnancy, birth, and postpartum and does not push any recommendations as required YES NO
Many mothers birth in upright, forward leaning, all fours, or squatting positions with this provider YES NO
My provider knows how to use physical and emotional support including quiet, calm, and dark environments, water therapy, a peanut and birth ball and this is a standard part of their birth support YES NO
My provider doesn't use induction or cesarean as a treatment for "big babies" YES NO
Many baby's have their cord clamped and cut after the placenta birth with this provider YES NO
My baby will be skin to skin with me as a standard practice through postpartum YES NO
My provider takes all the time I need to answer all the questions I have, or schedules time for this specific purpose, and suggest holistic therapies to remedy any fears YES NO
My provider works with fetal positioning guidance during pregnancy to reduce labor and birth complications YES NO
My provider encourages balanced meals and provides information on eating balanced rather than prescribing a standard Rx prenatal to cover nutrition.  If prenatal vitamins are recommended, they are whole foods (with folate, not folic acid) and test to determine specific areas of deficiency are encouraged to know what supplements would be beneficial for you. YES NO
My provider believes the body is capable of laboring, birthing, and healing during postpartum and doesn't use medical technology as a standard means of practice for normal pregnancy and birth during any part of the perinatal stages YES NO
My provider actively refers to other providers and specialists for areas they feel would benefit from another perspective or for care they are unable to provide YES NO
My provider does not get aggressive or sarcastic at the mention of home birth YES NO
My provider understands the influence of birth practices on breastfeeding YES NO
My provider uses emotional and physical guidance during labor to increase oxytocin, decrease fear, and naturally support the physical movement of the baby through the pelvis during labor YES NO
My provider ensures I am provided with (and know resources for) breastfeeding support immediately after birth and the first days and weeks after birth YES NO
My provider doesn't use "at least you have a healthy baby" as a justification for birth experiences YES NO
My provider checks on me, or has someone on their team that checks on me, multiple times throughout the first six weeks postpartum YES NO
My provider's backup, and any staff working with or for my provider, practices in the same way as my provider YES NO

Of course, the ideal is a YES to all of these, right?  At least much more than the majority. Are these the only priorities?  No, of course not... and there are many other factors that will play into the quality and care of a provider.  These may not even be a priority to YOU for THIS birth.  However, this is a general overview of how to get to the deep down of how a provider practices.

Gifts for Doulas Esali Birth

Gifts for doulas and midwives aren't just for the holidays but a lovely gesture to say, "Thank You" for their support.  Doulas and midwives love hearing from the families they have supported and seeing where their new journey is taking them.  Here are 10 extra thoughtful gifts for doulas and midwives that really show insight into the role a birthkeeper has.

Hand Written Card

You can't go wrong with a card.  Whether it's an e-card or purchased one, the words you add on the inside mean the most.  Tell your doula how much she meant to you and talk about how you and your family are doing.  Add in a family photo or photo from your birth and give permission (from you and the photographer) to use the photo in an album shared with future clients.

Plants, with Roots

Flowers are lovely, but flowers and plants with roots are lasting and make great gifts for doulas and midwives.  Whether it's a cutting flower, window herbs, potted plant for the clinic, grape vines, cherry tomatoes or a bag of heirloom seeds - plants make any space charming and some can live on for years.  My great grandmother had plants that were gifted to her and they always told a story.  What story will your plant tell?

Box of Honey Sticks or Healthy Snacks

Think birth bag.  Honey sticks and [healthy] snacks are compact items to carry to any birth.  If your doula or midwife used this in your birth, you know how helpful they can be.  Healthy no sugar no soy low processed snacks, like the Go Raw line of products, can be really pricey (but so worth it) and as a gift they can really help a doula that is logging a lot of hours and needing energy along the way.  Great addition to a hand written card!

Herbal Blends

Think adrenal and stress support.  Maybe the right gift is the doula's favorite roasted coffee from the quaint shop down the road, but let's go less caffeine here and support the adrenals.  Doulas and midwives work a lot of long high-energy-need hours and often at night.  The stress that comes along with birth work is real.  Don't get me wrong, it's a good kind of stress - but it is taxing on the adrenal and nervous system nonetheless.  Include a glass-lined tea and fruit infusion cup to go with it for easy on the go infusions.  Whether you blend your own herbs, check out the adrenal support blends and infusion glasses from the Esali Shop, or visit your local herbalist - teas, bath blends, and tinctures make a very useful option for gifts for doulas and midwives.

Audible Gift Card

Doulas and midwives log a lot of miles traveling to and from prenatal appointments, births, and postpartum appointments but don't always have time to cosy up with a good book.  Audio books make great gifts for doulas and midwives for the car rides for both entertainment and self improvement.  Another great compliment to a hand written card.

Music Gift Card

Doulas and midwives love music just as much as you and I, and also love to have playlists ready to go for birth.  iTunes or Amazon Music gift cards can make a simple gift for personal and professional use for doulas and midwives.  Another great compliment to a hand written card.

House Cleaning Gift Certificate

Doulas and midwives are sometimes away from home for days at a time.  While their families must be supportive of this lifestyle, and many have routines to fall into to make this kind of thing work, there are a lot of prenatal and postpartum visits between the birth that fill up even more time away from taking care of the basic tasks of running a house.  Having a gift certificate to cover cleaning the main areas of the house can make those days of resting, and time spent with their family, so much easier to attain.

Handmade & Homemade

Do you have a special skill?  Share it!  Handmade (or gathered from your farm) items make very thoughtful gifts for doulas and midwives.  Everyone loves knitted scarves or lathe-turned bowls.  Maybe you gather grapevines in your woods and weave them into table centerpieces.  A painting or even a pot of soup once you're into a groove with your new family and you know your doula is resting up from attending another birth.

Charm to Remember Your Birth

You've probably seen the cute stamped pendants that say, "Got Midwife" or have a pair of baby feet chiseled beautifully into a silver circle.  But let's get a little more personal with these options for gifts for doulas and midwives.  Think of the grandmother birth stone rings that were once ever so popular, and jazz it up a bit.  Get a pandora charm, bangle dangle, or gem stone that has your baby's name or birthdate or gemstone on it for your birth team's memory.  Maybe your doula doesn't have a charm holder - start one special just for her client memories!  Floating charm lockets make great birth bag flare or beautiful keychains.

Testimonials and Reviews

Word of mouth will go further than any sales tool for bringing in new clients.  There is still no better platform for business growth beyond a positive review from happy clients.  Providing permission to share your thoughts or taking a few moments to add a review to Facebook or Google can be a tremendous help to the doula or midwife, as well as providing insight for future clients as they choose the birth team that is right for their family.  Providing thoughtful words and insight into the skills of your doula or midwife is one of the best gifts for doulas and midwives.  It is encouraging to their heart and useful in so many ways.  Providing them with these thoughts helps them in ways tangible gifts can't compare.

Social Media Tags

Similar to a testimonial and review, social media tags are wonderful ways of sharing the love and attesting to the skill and wisdom the doula or midwife provided you.  If you're sharing a birth story, photos, or videos be sure to tag your doula or midwife (remember their business page and commonly used hashtags) so others can link back to those services and let the wisdom sharing continue.  If you received a lot of support through education, mentoring, guidance, and love - tag that person when sharing those thoughts with friends, family and social media followers.  If you have a photo of the doula or midwife you're sharing, be sure to tag the image with their business or personal profile.

Photo (or video) of the Doula or Midwife Providing Support

One of the best gifts for doulas or midwives is a digital copy (with usage rights from you and the photographer/videographer) to photos and videos of your birth - especially when they contain the doula or midwife within them.  A visual image of the doula at work can be used for marketing material, website imagery, social media sharing, and providing potential clients with an insight into how that person practices.  These imagines are personal providing tools that are more impactful than stock images that anyone can purchase and use.

 

If you're a doula or midwife, what were some of your most memorable gifts received?

There are a lot of discussions about the ways to involve siblings at birth: Should we?  Is it harmful?  Will they bother mom too much?  Will they be scarred for life?  Most of these questions stem from a culture that puts a veil over a lot of normal life functions and discussions and instead plays pretend, leaves little Tommy with a sitter, or simply lies to avoid uncomfortable conversations.  Don't get me wrong, there are simply some events where parents just need the space to be in their own mind without distractions and only the parent can truly decide what is best for the family as a whole.

Children often handle birth and breastfeeding delightfully and it opens up so many wonderful opportunities for real life discussion and understanding.  They may sleep through the entire event.  They may play and step in now and then, ask some questions or observe and want to know someone will make them dinner.  They may get bored and need some guided activities or outside time.  They may want to snuggle mom or get in the birth tub.  Your labor and birth location will determine a lot of how normal the birth process feels to siblings and how involved they are able to feel.

How, then, can we involve siblings at birth if we decide this is what is right for our family?  Here are four fun ways to make them feel like a part of the experience without playing pretend.

Birth Team Host to involve siblings at birth

Having older siblings make coffee, snacks, and meals for a home birth team as well as care for younger siblings is one of the most common ways to involve siblings at birth.  This is a good task for the tween group.  They're old enough to really want an important job, to do some kitchen tasks by themselves, and to understand that mom may need her space and time with her birth team.  Teens can be sent on errands, to the grocery store even, depending on the needs during the birth.  All the siblings can prep sandwiches, put on a crockpot full of soup, and be sure the pot of coffee is at the ready.  They can answer the door as people arrive so whoever is supporting mom can stay with her without interruption, including in birth center and hospital settings.

Birth Attendant Role to involve siblings at birth

Another important task for the older groups is being an intuitive birth attendant.  These tasks can start during pregnancy, allowing older siblings to be involved in prental appointments as well as birth classes and get a great understanding of the birth processes before birth.  During labor they can be sure mom has water available, with fresh cucumber and a bendy straw, wherever she goes.  Siblings can be sure the bed is prepped with a shower curtain and fresh linens.  They can fetch cool towels, a birth ball, and rub mom's back.  Depending on their abilities can depend how much they are able to physically help with mom's comfort if she desires support, but many of these tasks are excellent for even young children freeing up the other birth attendants and Dad for continues support in other ways.

Make Birth Announcements to involve siblings at birth

Siblings making birth announcements can be as simple as changing the greeting on your voicemail and answering phone calls to making “Do Not Disturb; Baby Sleeping” signs and adding Baby’s name, weight, and birth info. for those that may be dropping by food, or the mail.  Hand-written cards can be sent with a new photo to all the baby shower and blessingway attendees, giving siblings plenty to keep occupied during the first weeks after the birth and plenty of time for mom to get settled in with breastfeeding.

Birth Photography is a great way to involve siblings at birth

This can be from the oldest sibling to a toddler and one of my favorite ways to involve siblings at birth.  The only real challenge is finding the camera you're comfortable with them using and making sure a flash or noise isn't too distracting if they’re not up to speed on camera settings.  Thankfully, disposable cameras still exist (even in digital form) if you don't own a camera and don't want to hand off the cell.

Even more fun with disposable cameras, a young child can have a lot of fun decorating the camera to fit their personal tastes and getting prints in the mail after the birth is an extra present.  Add in a personal scrap book, stickers, markers, and fun paper for a great quiet-time activity while you're resting and nursing.  Save some photos to be taken during the first year to add to the scrapbook and now the siblings not only have a great way to be involved at the birth, but also a great first birthday present to give as a keepsake.  Multiple siblings can easily share this activity and it's sure to be one of the highlights making the siblings feel very excited for their baby brother's or sister's birthday party.

 

Never underestimate the mind of a youth – they are ready and willing to learn all they can about life and their body and being a big help with chores and daily life before and after birth.  There are no necessary roles siblings need to take before, during or after the birth – but the more they are involved with the process, the more they will understand about their own body and the importance of the entire family helping for this new little life.  Making snacks, filling up water cups, and prepping nursing baskets with fun tasks (for mom and the little ones) as well as charging phones and starting a load of laundry are all helpful postpartum.

How do you love to involve siblings at birth?

 

Doula Bag Esali Birth

Labor Doula Bag Basics

When it comes to the basics, your doula bag should carry items for you (food, extra clothes, unique tools for supporting...etc.).  A labor bag that the parents pack should carry items for them (think toiletries, extra clothes, birth ball, food, money...etc.).  The best items in a doula bag or general labor bag really depend on the types of women and births you most often attend and the style of care you provide.  I'm mostly using my hands and my presence while supporting births, but it is nice to have a little bit of extras since they fit in the bag.  Likewise, it's not uncommon for me to attend births in the country 30 minutes from the nearest hospital and I'm usually the only other person present for a decent amount of time so I like to have a little extra tools available to me.  I would encourage you to know how to use the items well in your bag before adding them, particularly if you are adding herbs to your tool kit.  Ultimately, though, you'll probably add a lot more items to your bag when you're first starting out and eventually come to find a few tools to be your most common go-to items for the area you practice in the most.

What is the best Doula Bag to use?

I LOVE camera back packs.  I use these for my desk job also because I work from home and homeschool - which means I might be in the office, at home, or at a park and I want to throw everything in it.  For the doula bag, they just keep everything so organized and easy to access so they're super convenient all the way around with moveable hook and loop dividers.  I have a few different brand styles, but I prefer the style shown in the header image because it doesn't taper at the top and has a lot of extra compartments great for carrying cash/debit cards, keys, food, notepad, or smaller items I might want to grab from my purse.

Doula Bag Must Haves

Essential Doula Bag Items:

  • Extra change of clothes - shirt, pants, and maybe under garments.  You never know if you need refreshed or have water from a tub or amniotic fluid on you.  An extra pair of scrubs are nice too and then you kind of have uniform without bothering the rest of your wardrobe.
  • Herbs for tea and herbs, oils, and tinctures for emergency or extra supportive scenarios - I use a travel cosmetic case for herbal teas that I cycle through often for freshness - that's the little red case you see.  I use a travel essential oil mini case - that's the green zipper pouch you see.  I'll talk more about these in a minute.
  • Food Items - because you need a quick pick me up, or sometimes a whole pot of soup and it might not be available.

Herbs (Red Case) Whole or Tinctured (not essential oils)

  • Red Raspberry Leaf - If its early in labor, I do tend to make a cup of tea for mom or whomever else.  It's emotionally calming, it's nutritive to the whole body, and it is far from clinical.  This can also be used for immediate postpartum.  Red Raspberry Leaf is a wonderful tonic (nutritive) herb which can be light on the stomach while also providing necessary nutrients for labor.
  • Nettles - Same as above while packing a bigger punch.  Great for reducing bleeding postpartum as well.
  • Dandelion Leaf - supports the liver and good for postpartum, especially if mom needs a bit of encouragement to pee over the first week.
  • Chamomile Flower - Soothes muscle tensions, especially in the digestive area helpful for nausea and support sleeping.
  • Separately, though usually blended together (steeped prior to birth if we might be wary of postpartum hemorrhage - stressed mom, long labor, tired mom...etc.) - Equal parts Shepherd's Purse (this is an oxytocic herb that helps to contract the uterus in case of hemorrhage), Yarrow (this herb helps the blood to clot in case of a hemorrhage or vaginal tear), and SWEET/True/Ceylon Cinnamon (NOT Cassia - cassia/kitchen cinnamon thins the blood too much due to high concentrations of coumarin which are not high in true cinnamon).  Cinnamon is helpful for women that may have a very cool constitution (thin, pale, often chilled extremities).  This is a nice postpartum tea blend as well.
  • Black Tea or Instant Coffee - for a quick pick me up drink for the birth team.
  • Doula Power Energy Tincture - for  a quick pick me up and mood balancing needed for long labors and for functioning after a long labor for the birth team.

Herbs (Green Case)

This is a case that holds 8 miniature dropper vials that I mostly use for essential oils though I also have some tinctures.  I also have a roller ball of olive oil for massage and diluting essential oils and a general salve tin for tear healing or as a lip balm - which is better than a stick of lip balm because I can more easily put it on a cotton swab or whatever is available to not contaminate the jars.

  • Olive Oil - for diluting essential oils and general unscented massage (I prefer olive to coconut because it has a longer history of medicinal use and I don't have to purchase something that has been processed in order for it to remain one consistency).
  • Lavender Essential Oil - For calming and anxiety related relaxation as well as rest support.
  • Rescue Remedy (Tincture) - For calming support (though I honestly haven't seen much benefit from this myself).
  • Peppermint Essential Oil - To help ease nausea during labor.  To help if the mom has to pee, especially postpartum thus reducing risks of postpartum hemorrhage from a uterus that can't contract efficiently.
  • Lemon Essential Oil - Uplifting when the birth environment gets a little too drab and everyone needs a pick me up to keep things going. Also helps with nausea during labor.  This can also be blended (equal drops) with peppermint and lavender for allergic reactions and itching (like with medication reactions or cholestasis).  (FYI - Though some people put this in their water for flavor, it isn't a great practice because it can't properly dilute and irritates the stomach.  Likewise, you don't get vitamin C from the essential oil so it doesn't help in that regard either).
  • Chamomile Essential Oil - For muscle tension (also helpful for a newborn that has tight muscles making it hard to breastfeed) and rest support.
  • Valerian Tincture - For anxiety and rest support.
  • Shepherd's Purse Tincture - For oxytocic needed (contracting the uterus) postpartum hemorrhage (NOT for induction or during labor).
  • Yarrow Tincture - For flowing blood postpartum hemorrhage.

Sometimes I may have pre-blended tinctures for scenarios like hemorrhage and after pains relief - but all of these mentioned can be used along with other techniques so it isn't necessary.  I just like having something available if I'm the only one at the birth or out in the hills of WV.

Food Stuffs

  • Protein bars, of the healthy kind, are well worth it for their compact nutrition.  I found these wonderful sprouted - fruit only sweetness - protein bars that are wonderful from Thrive Market.  It is really nice having something good for me, no condensed whey or soy protein, and that won't make me crash like a sugar-loaded bar will do.
  • Honey sticks - because sometimes they just taste good in tea or coffee and I just don't like white sugar that's often available.  They can make nasty herbs taste better.  They can also be a great pick me up for the Mom (and baby) that might be getting low on blood sugar - or anyone else that might need this pick me up as well.  A uterus doesn't work well when it doesn't have a healthy source of glucose (common in a long labor), which may increase risks of hemorrhage so this is a simple way of keeping something in the system even if mom doesn't want to eat (typical during labor as the body needs to focus on getting baby out, not digesting food).
  • Cucumbers or coconut water for natural and healthy electrolyte balance without overloading the body with salt (which may cause water retention, but not necessarily hydration and electrolyte balance).
  • Sometimes I grab a box or jar of soup if I have it available - and it has been glorious when I have this for a long labor or where nourishing food isn't available.
  • Gum or Mints - Because you never know how coffee or protein bars might make your breath smell to a laboring mother or anyone else for that matter.
  • Lip Balm - If you use a swab this can be used by multiple people (you and mom...etc.) without unecessarily sharing germs.  A blend of St. John's Wort, Comfrey, and Calendula in olive oil and beeswax makes a nice healing skin salve for various scenarios such as perineal tears and postpartum nipple damage issues.

Doula Bag Optional Items

  • Flex Straws - Making staying hydrated much easier for mom so she doesn't have to tip a glass back.
  • Tennis Ball - for pressure and massage so the hands don't get tired.
  • Birth Ball or Peanut Ball - for sitting with a moveable pelvis, for leaning over in various positions, for sitting on behind a squatting mother, and the peanut ball for propping the legs more easily in side lying positions.  These are common tools, though most clients these days (as well as birth locations) already have these or clients prefer to walk around - so carrying one around that needs stored or blown up is just not my thing.  A ball can easily be taken to selective births as needed.
  • Infusion Glass - This is not shown, but I usually strap a water bottle and Libre Tea infusion glass to the front of my bag for hydration and making tea or fruit infusions.  I don't have to worry about finding a tea ball or making a paper tea bag - plus no leeching from plastic cups.  Grab on of these in the Esali Shop!
  • Baby Wrap - About a size 4 woven wrap - for rebozo work, comfort relief, repositioning baby, wrapping around a pelvis for hip squeezing, and postpartum babywearing if it looks like the parents need some extra support... or postpartum belly wrapping if the mom needs extra abdominal support.
  • Yoga Strap - used similarly as a baby wrap, but a little easier to maneuver.  Myself or Dad can hold this up around the back over the shoulder in the front - up on a bed or other piece of furniture - and mom can hold the bottom like a birth rope for a supported squat that's easier on our arms and better for relaxing her bottom.  These are great for stretching the lower back and hamstrings and various parts of the pelvic region during prenatal appointments or to help a funky birth position.  Depending on the birth location, there might be something this can be hooked around to be used just like a labor rope.
  • Battery tea lights - because they can feel relaxing, and why not?  Many birth locations don't allow real candles, or we don't want to worry about one being knocked over or forgotten to be blown out.  They can allow that calm and dark space oxytocin prefers while giving the birth team a little bit of light to maneuver around.
  • Note pad and pens for taking birth notes, especially if I'm going to be the only one there for a while.  I'm not focused on this because supporting mom is my priority, but there are times this is helpful not only when relaying information to the rest of the birth team, but also for processing a birth during postpartum and having a really good understanding of the order of events with the family.
  • Some print out cards of tip reminders for positioning in case I'm tired - or the rest of the birth team needs something to reference (great for dads and family members).
  • Hair ties - because my hair is crazy long and its common for my tie to break.  Also because the mom might need one herself and may have forgotten one in her bag or lost it.
  • Digital camera and phone charger - I often take birth photos when doulaing.  It isn't my main focus, but it is something I offer.  I also want to be sure my family can reach me for emergencies and keep a phone charger on hand.
  • Surgical gloves - because sometimes I check baby's tongue ties postpartum to foresee any breastfeeding issues if things aren't feeling OK to mom.  I don't like to do this too soon because I don't want to mess with baby unnecessarily, but commonly used during postpartum visits.
  • Feeding Tube - just in case someone offers the Mom a nipple shield I have backup available.  I also use this bag for breastfeeding and postpartum consultations and like to keep those on hand for a finger feeder as one of the least invasive ways of mom getting a break from nursing without damaging the latch with other artificial nipples.  When they are needed - its nice to not have to wait 2 days to get them by mail.  I also keep some Dr. Jack Newman breastfeeding guides in here as well, though not pictured.  My doula support includes breastfeeding support and postpartum care, so having these items come in handy.

Those are the basics.  Sometimes I might add a few extra items - usually a different herb or extra food item or something specific the mom may have requested.  Maybe an extra camera battery, but nothing too extreme.  The bag is mostly my personal convenience and comfort items rather than items I ever really use much.  I might throw in a book I'm reading for a time where mom is sleeping or wants some privacy.

 

What's in YOUR Doula Bag?

the “F” word can be looked at from two perspectives… another “four-letter word” or a survival mechanism. I choose to look at it in a positive manner so that I can learn and choose wisely. Fear is a response to a perceived threat. Why is it only a perceived threat? Because not everyone has the same response to this “threat.”

Some fears, for many women, will just not disappear. There is no trickery, no education, no mantra, no book, no method that can take all the fears away for some women – and that is OK. It is OK to have fear. Fear is a normal process in life, and has a very valid purpose.

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Tell me your story. I'd love to help you have a happy healthy birth!

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