Doula Bag Supplies List – Version TWO |Tips for Doulas

Written May 2012, updated April 2015.Doula Camera Bag 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! You can read my older post about my very first doula bag here, see the suitcase option here, or keep reading here for the updated version. It's lot shorter. 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 options.


* paper & pen to write birth timeline & copy of their birth time plan (or I have these on my phone)
* massager (I love these.
* rebozo
* birth affirmation & scripture cards
* 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)
* hot water bottle (for lower back)
* 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
* step stool (for pictures after the birth because I am short)

Personal stuff for me in the doula bag:
* wallet & change purse
* toiletries: toothbrush & paste, chapstick, lotion, hand sanitizer, mini-deodorant
* snacks
* mini first aid kit & meds, feminine hygiene stuff
* jacket (those hospitals can be COLD)

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.)

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17 Responses to Doula Bag Supplies List – Version TWO |Tips for Doulas

  1. Jackie says:

    Thanks this is an awesome check list. I’m getting prepared to attend my 3rd birth and I need to make sure I don’t forget anything!!

  2. Belinda says:


    I am not a doula but my sister-in-law asked if I would help her out and be “doula” for her. I never had one with my 2 prior births, however I have been reading all I can in order to better prepare for this. Any words of advise? My sis-in-law & bro-in-law will be first time parents so any advise you can provide will go a long way in calming both of them a little, thanks!


    • heidi says:

      That’s a good question! The first couple births I attended were because family & friends asked me to play doula for them. You’ll do great! I’m pondering ideas and I’ll write a post with my thoughts.

  3. Hi again (second comment from me today). I was wondering when it comes to your reminder cards : Did you buy a set or make them yourself? I’ve been toying with making some especially since I have access to a laminating machine to keep them looking all nice. What all kinds of information is on yours? If you used a word document and printed them out do you mind sharing? If not, my e-mail is
    Thanks so much!!

    • heidi says:

      I made my own reminder cards and hand wrote them – I’ve not laminated them yet but they’re taped into a little notebook so they’re pretty safe. I’m revising my doula bag now and I’ll post a new photo and inventory, along with the reminder cards. I probably will laminate them as I’m going in to laminate my scripture cards, too.

  4. Dawn says:

    I am totally going to bake some cookies for my next delivery. Thanks for the tip!

  5. I have that Oilily bag too, but in blue! Its been tucked away, never thought of using it for my douala bag, but I will now :)

    • heidi says:

      Is that the brand of my pink & brown bag? Mine is a hand-me-down and I love it, plus it’s pretty memorable – the hospital staff recognizes my bag when I come in, and I tell parents to look for it if we’re meeting somewhere public for our initial consultation. You can’t miss the big pink and brown bag! :)

  6. Michelle Criss says:

    I would love to know more about your “scripture cards” in the 1st bag (Camera bag). I am trying to make some myself and would love to know what you have. Thanks! Great ideas here too! Thanks!

  7. Amber says:

    This is fantastic! Planning our 2nd birth center birth in approximately 8 weeks. While I am not my own doula (THAT would be magic!) I do have a good friend who is in a sort of pre-training stage (aka knows her stuff and could totally rock the doula job)…anyway, all throughout my pregnancy we have included our son in all appointments, labs, etc. This post gives me great ideas for a “bro”-la bag. I’m not going to put it past him to hop in the tub and help deliver his sister!

    Thanks also for the scripture links! I’ve been researching ones I would like to have myself, but you have done the work for me! At this point in my pregnancy I would rather not do too much I don’t have to!

    • heidi says:

      Amber, congrats on your new little one on the way and how fun to have your son that involved! I hope it’s an amazing, beautiful birth experience for all of you!!! -Heidi

  8. Joyful says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience rich tips for those of us who are just getting started. Everything was very practical and wise.

  9. Precious says:

    Heidi! So glad I found your site! VERY new to the role of ‘doula’ and preparing to attend my first birth next month. The breast pump I’m seeing you mention… is that for you or for mom?!? (I am a nursing mom at the moment so a tad bit confused!)

    • Heidi Thaden-Pierce says:

      The breast pump was for me, as I had a six month old when I began attending births. If parents are birthing out of the hospital the midwives usually encourage them to have their own breast pump on hand to encourage contractions (if things slow down) and I’ve seen them used in the hospital as well if parents want to try that before using pitocin (and if their care provider is open to that.) But I don’t provide any breast pumps to parents as I don’t have one that is safe for multiple users. I hope your first birth goes beautifully!!

  10. Anya says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I’m attending my first birth in a month and I am so excited! This has really helped me to get prepared. I have an 8 month old so I will have to bring a breast pump along with me to my births. I was wondering how you went about pumping when you needed to? I have a hospital birth coming up and was wondering if I should just quietly dismiss myself every few hours and go to the washroom, or car, or where so it can be discreet and not awkward but not too far away from the mom to be… how did you handle this? Thanks!

    • Heidi Thaden-Pierce says:

      How excited to be preparing for your first doula birth! If I was at a home or birth center it was easy to step into another room to pump and rinse out my parts. The hospital is trickier – often I would go pump in my car and then rinse out the parts in the restroom. If I was desperate I would pump in the restroom but in those cases I was just pumping enough to relieve the engorgement, dumping the milk then running back to the laboring mom. :) If I was in my car I could pump and eat at the same time but that only worked if it was earlier in labor and things were quiet.

      Because I only took births in my town when my baby was little I also had my husband bring her to me if it was during the day so I could nurse instead, which was faster than pumping and he would bring me food so I could eat and nurse at the same time. That transition made me harder on the kids to see you briefly then say good-bye, but mine were old enough they didn’t mind and would watch a show on the DVD player in the car while I nursed.

      So mostly it’s about improvising birth-by-birth. Sometimes I couldn’t get away as things were going fast and I wouldn’t be able to pump/nurse for 8 hours, but usually there were a few minutes I could pump/eat/use the bathroom every 4 hours or so. I was up front with parents about needing that break time as well so they weren’t surprised during labor when things were quiet for me to say I needed to step out for a bit, and it was never for more than 30 minutes I was gone.

      I hope that helps!

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