The first thing I’ll say is that it’s good to find a suitable bag with as many compartments as possible. I’ve had a few over the years but my current favourite is the flylite ‘mobile office’. It has 3 separate compartments and lots of pockets and zips perfect for keeping everything organized! It is also on wheels making it easy to stop and support a mama having contractions before walking on.
I’m a masseuse, so it’s important to me to make sure I take oil. I like a light oil like macadamia and camelia tea and then I add ‘birth oils’ to this. Some good ones are lavender and clary sage essential oil. This helps the labouring mama to relax and the clary sage can help stimulate contractions. I also carry some heat packs to provide comfort and sometimes a TENS machine is helpful.
Getting back to touch; I carry acupressure tools to help stimulate some points if needed. I have been given an awesome pointed wooden tool that is great if my thumbs or fingers are feeling worn out. I carry a wooden comb too so that mums can grab onto this and stimulate some pain-relieving points and help release endorphins. I recommend Debra Betts acupressure booklet if you’re just learning. Some favourites that I use are: GB-21 which can stimulate contractions and has a descending action, BL-32 helps produce a nice anaesthetising effect and helps the mama cope with the contractions better, KID-1 can be deeply relaxing, L.I-4 can help provide general pain relief and also stimulate contractions, BL-60 can help the baby to descend and SP-6 is magical for helping the cervix to dilate (it can also help after the baby is born to lessen the pain of ‘after pains’).
One of my favourite things in my bag is my ‘boom swimmer’ bluetooth speaker. It is waterproof, dust and shock proof with a rechargeable battery that seems to last forever. I use it all the time! I highly recommend this as a portable music player. You can bluetooth to an ipod or iphone (or anything) and play your specially selected music. I love Spotify which is like your own radio station where it suggests artists you might like. I enter ‘Deva Premal’ or 'Anugama' into my station and it goes from there with awesome relaxing music for birth. I've also created a playlist that goes for hours (Doula Wisdom Massage List).
I have a selection of homeopathic’s that I may pull out if indicated. I have a degree in clinical science (majoring in complementary medicine) so I feel confident in recommending when the time is right. Ask your local naturopath or homeopath for some good ones to put in your labour bag. Most people have heard of arnica and this is a good one for any household to have! It is very useful for helping reduce bruising and swelling (and can also help with afterpains).
It is also good to carry your flower essence of choice to help with anxiety or stress (like rescue remedy, emergency essence or crisis relief).
I carry a rebozo/pashmina/shawl with me almost everywhere these days. It is helpful during prenatal visits and great for labours. I use it to help the mother to relax and the baby to be in a good position. It also makes a great shawl if I get cold or need to have a nap at a long labour. Speaking of which, I now carry a ‘thermarest’ self inflating mattress in my bag so that if I’m at a long labour and need to recharge, I have something soft to nap on. It’s good for doing yoga on too! I have the ‘trail scout’ regular size (if you’re curious!).
As the length of a labour is unpredictable, it’s good to have a spare change of clothes, toiletries (tooth brush and deodorant etc), snacks to keep you going and chargers for your camera, phone etc.
Some of the best ‘tools’ I have are my hands and voice and calm presence from years of experience. I feel honoured when I am welcomed to a birth; the creation or expansion of a family is one of the most precious moments imaginable.
Kirrah is a postpartum doula, pregnancy masseuse, childbirth educator and lactation counsellor helping women and families in the northern rivers area (Northern NSW, Australia)