After two births in a week, its time to re-stock my birth bag! So of course, I thought it was blog worthy.
What is a birth bag, you may ask. This is the bag I have with me at all times when I am on call for a birth (refresher, I am on call from 37 wks gestation until the birth). It goes from car to car, and I’m constantly asking my partner “did you grab my birth bag when you packed the car?”
Some Doulas and birth workers lug around giant tote bags filled with massage rollers, balls, blankets, candles, twinkle lights, heating pads, and all kinds of goodies! Me? I’m more of a minimalist. I have a small shoulder bag which I mostly use to sustain myself during a long labor. Here’s the run down:
Two changes of clothes (typically yoga pants and a birth-y tee shirt): who wants to show up at a birth in a party dress? or get meconium on your favorite pants? This last week I was called out to a birth when I was leading a plant walk in the middle of a rain storm with soaking wet clothes on, thank goodness I had something to change into! I keep two changes in case I am on call for more than one family or in case I get coated in blood, amniotic fluid, or meconium before my work is done.
Toiletries: I keep a travel toothbrush, tiny tube of tooth paste, tiny deodorant, chapstick, and a small bottle of my favorite moisturizer. Sometimes I’m at a labor for a very long time, or need to run right from a labor to somewhere else; my little refresher bag is essential!
Rebozo: technically I carry this traditional Mexican wrap to help mother’s during labor, but more often than not I end up using it to keep myself warm in a chilly hospital or home.
Unscented Oil: I keep a very small bottle of very unscented oil, usually almond oil or jojoba oil, for doing massage during labor.
Hair ties: I have very short hair, so these are for my mom’s! I have a tiny pouch with a bunch of these just in case mom gets a sudden notion to get her hair out of her face or her own hair tie breaks.
Snacks: these are for me! I keep a number of non-perishable bars and fruit chews that are high in calories and pretty healthy. Again, sometimes labors are very long and I need to make sure I keep my energy up!
Double-shot Espresso: do I need to explain this one? More likely for the ride home than during labor.
Watch: when I’m attending births as a midwifery assistant I need to be able to take vitals.
LED candles: I finally used these at a labor for the first time! Laboring mothers typically prefer low-lighting during childbirth, and sometimes they didn’t anticipate that or a hospital will not allow candles. LED candles are cheap and provide remarkably pleasant lighting.
Pen Light: In case I need to search for something and mom doesn’t want to lights on, or if I’m working as a midwifery assistant its good to be able to provide direct light sometimes.
Tea, Cough Drops, and Instant Coffee: Strictly for me, to keep me perky and lubricate my vocal cords. My voice is my most valuable tool during labor!
Lactation Pocket Guide: my small lactation pocket guide is nice to have in the immediate postpartum. I am a CLC and often provide some counseling for parents choosing to breastfeed.
Change and a few bucks: just in case I need to pay a parking meter, or snag something from a vending machine.
Honey pouches: This is for the laboring mama! Its an easy energy-boosting food to ingest during labor, and to be honest honey is easy to sneak at a hospital which has a (non-evidence based) nothing-by-mouth policy during labor.
Cellphone Charger: just in case!
With all this in my bag, I’ll say the things I use most at a birth are my voice and hands. They are my most valuable tools for support and healing; if my birth bag flew out of the bed of my truck while I was driving to a birth, I would likely barely notice once I started supporting the laboring mother. I have things like birth balls, but I don’t bring them unless my client specifically requests it. I sometimes bring the deflated balls and pump in my care just in case it becomes apparent mid-labor that it would be useful. I also tend to keep a sleeping bag in my car, I can easily fold down the back seats and take a comfy snooze if I simply can’t drive any longer on the way home.