Written May 2012, updated April 2015. I've tried a variety of bags over the years, from diaper bags to standard backpacks to rolling suitcases to camera backpacks. Every doula has to find the right fit for her and that may take time, and that's okay! Sometimes I don't pull most of these things out (except the camera) and that's okay. Knowing that I have them ready to help if needed is enough, and the longer I doula the less I find I really need.
After trying a variety of options I keep coming back to this photo backpack. The dividers let me see everything quickly and easily, it's designed to be worn during photoshoots so it's got lots of padding to be worn comfortably (not that you are wearing it during a birth!) It's inexpensive, and it's great. I got mine on Amazon here, but if you search for "photo backpack" you'll see lots of styles.
* paper & pen to write birth timeline & copy of their birth time plan (or I have these on my phone)
* massager (I love these BUT I rarely use them as I tend to rely more on my own hands and the partner's hands.)
* birth affirmation & scripture cards, they take up almost no space and I've had clients request them specifically
* cotton pads (for essential oils, easy to toss if they end up not liking the scent)
* Colgate Wisp (disposable toothbrush for mom or dad) & mints
* essential oils on my keychain
* battery operated mini-fan (for transition, moms get hot and I grab this often)
* hot water bottle (for lower back)
or I sew up a rice pack for each client to use in labor/keep afterwards.
* mini-cooler (to hold ice water for dippings wash cloths for mom in transition)
* camera equipment: Canon 60D, bounce flash, 35mm lens, 50mm lens, back up batteries, charger, spare memory cards
Personal stuff for me in the doula bag:
* wallet & change purse
* toiletries: toothbrush & paste, chapstick, lotion, hand sanitizer, mini-deodorant
* mini first aid kit & meds, feminine hygiene stuff
* jacket (those hospitals can be COLD)
STUFF IN CAR:
change clothes (If things go long or I get messy - it happens!)
peanut ball (I grab it if mom decides to stay in bed and rest or if she gets the epidural, though most hospitals in our area now have them.)