What’s In Your Postpartum Doula’s Bag?

One of the most popular questions at 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 some other ideas at them that they may not have thought of. The contents of my bag change a bit depending on my working hours, and the needs of the family. Now, due to COVID-19, I find I need to update the list again. Here are some things to consider putting in your postpartum doula bag:

Client file/folder. I have a folder for each 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 can provide some helpful handouts.

Pen. I tend to make notes in my folder on things I need to discuss with my clients, or anything I haven’t witnessed that needs to be documented. Of course, you can also keep notes on your phone.

Socks with rubber 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 overnight, there is a possibility of downtime. I might be able to do some studying or answer emails if all my duties are done and everyone is asleep. For those of you working on your certification, throw away your reading books too!

Emergency kit. Contact lens solution, aspirin, hand lotion, breath mints, hair ties, menstruation, etc

Dishwashing gloves. It may sound strange, but after you realize how much you wash dishes, bottles, counters, etc., you quickly realize that your skin is dry and cracked. Gloves can help prevent excessive drying of the hands.

Paper towels. Since COVID, I am more aware of the surfaces I come in contact with and some families do not have paper towels in their homes. After washing my hands, I don’t want to dry them with a towel that is already being used by others.

Hand sanitizer. We know that the most effective way to get rid of germs is to wash with soap and water, but sometimes, we need a quick clean, 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 want to introduce to your clients? Throw them in your bag and give them a chance to try them on.

Snacks/water. You need to stay hydrated and nourished while doing this work. Choose healthy snacks for quick energy and don’t forget to drink lots of water!

The contents of my bag often change. There are a ton of possibilities! The above is just a staple list of items you should consider, but I’d 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 DONA certified in 2003. Finding she also loves working with families after they give birth, she became a CAPPA certified postpartum doula in 2004. Soon after, 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 is not doing doula work, she spends her time with her husband and two wonderful children.

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