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What is in My Birth Doula Bag?

Want a sneak peak into what I bring with me to every birth? This is the bag that sits ready by the door at all times. Ultimately, my hands, brain, and heart are my most used tools, but that doesn't mean that some of my other items aren't helpful, too!

Important guiding principles for what makes it into my bag:

  • Nothing new to my clients: if I'm trying it on you in birth that means we talked about it, and practiced it, in prenatals

  • Nothing that clients can do better themselves (ex. comforting objects)

  • If I haven't used it in several births, it comes out

  • I love the earth and/but during birth it is ok to use stuff that is easier and more disposable

chicago birth doula bag with supplies for pregnant clients

I am constantly editing what stays and what goes in my bag, so this is just a snapshot of my right-now stuff. Read all the way to the end for a look at my original doula bag and how it has changed.

The actual bag is a travel backpack that can also be worn as a crossbody bag but I never do. I really like that everything is visible and also contained in zippers. I can open this on the floor of a room and quickly see what I need without a whole lot of digging. I think the brand is Eagle. And it's black because that's the color of my East-Coast-forever soul.


I generally stock both the ones that I love and also things that I know are helpful in labor and postpartum. Sometimes I don't get a chance to go to a cafeteria or pop out for food so it's all about high calorie density.


  • LED candles

  • Battery operated twinkle lights

  • Mantras and birth cards (though these aren't often used unless birth is medicated because no one reads in labor); I love this one, which is inclusive and diverse

  • Lightweight speaker

  • Electric fan and a hand fan


  • Fancy body wipes

  • EXTRA fancy Ursa Major face wipes that are as close as I can get my post-birth clients to the facial they deserve

  • Wisps disposable tooth brushes, floss

  • Hair ties, headbands, bobby pins, hair clips

  • Poo-pourri for partners in a one-bathroom situation

  • Tissues

  • Wet Wipes

  • Tylenol and tampons for myself

supplies inside of my birth doula bag for chicago births, including toiletries, a TENS machine, LED candles, a homeopathy birth kit, essential oils and snacks


  • TENS unit: MY MOST USED ITEM! The TENS machine attaches to your back and delivers small electric impulses to encourage the release of endorphins and distract from the pain of early labor. You can get these OTC from the pharmacy for as little as $25, but mine is a fancy one designed for labor specifically.

  • Long charger cords

  • Electric pump for birth balls, peanut ball, and the camp mat I keep in my car


I have the Helios kit and use this most often at home births. Recently, I had a client who had the foresight to request Zofran after a tough first birth with a lot of nausea and puking. Unfortunately, the Zofran only worked until it didn't. We were getting pretty desperate since she couldn't keep water down and was not hooked up to an IV. We tried ipecac and it worked almost instantly. I also love arnica for postpartum soreness.

Essential Oils

I keep both florals for relaxation and citruses for energy. I always have an alternative or two for lavender because that is a love-it or hate it scent. I honestly probably carry too many, but I like to have the just-right one. I most recently used clary sage to help with dilation in a stalled labor.

Used most often to set the mood, relax in the tub, or settle into a room

  • lavender

  • jasmine

  • geranium: cost effective alternative to rose

Used for those moments of exhaustion, nausea, and doubt

  • mint: also helps people pee postpartum!

  • lemon

  • orange

just in case pouch of birth bag with chux pads, emesis bags, sleep masks, a cooler, a kneeling pad

Just In Case Pouch

  • Change of clothes, though I go back and forth on this

  • Disposable cooler in case I don't have my regular placenta cooler

  • Vomit bags, gloves, and chux pads for those intense moments at home or on the way to the birth spot

  • Unused sleep masks

  • A garden kneeling pad

Optional Add-ins for Special Circumstances

  • a collapsible, plug-in kettle for hospitals and inductions so I can help get warm liquids into you quickly

  • peanut ball for epidural births; most hospitals have them but only in one size so I carry a less common size

Stuff I Bring that Doesn't Live in the Bag

  • Coffee

  • Fresh fruit or a hot meal

  • Placenta cooler for placenta encapsulation

My First Birth Bag

I learned that many of the things I thought were a good idea, actually weren't as helpful. Grippy socks are location provided in Chicago. Most people won't use a birth comb for the first time in labor. My old speaker was big and heavy. I used to carry a birth ball and a whole bunch of massage tools which were too much space and weight for how often I used them. Plus almost every birth spot in Chicago has birth balls. I also used carry teaching tools with me to birth because I just didn't realize the learning ship has SAILED. I waffle back and forth about my DSLR since my iPhone captures great birth photos.

Honestly, I feel like I could show up to a birth now with nothing but myself and some comfortable shoes and fully support a client. So the stuff is all just bonus these days.

first iteration of doula bag with birth ball, cooler, massage tools, teaching tools, DSLR

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