Doula Bag Supplies List (Tips for Doulas)

This is what my doula bag looks like NOW, but scroll down if you want to see what I assembled as a new doula in April 2011:

Here’s my most recent version of the doula/photo bag combo:


Update: I’ve seen added my back up camera body, a 50mm 1.4 lens, a different rice pack, a car charger for my camera batteries, and my new essential oils keychain. But otherwise it’s pretty much the same!

Version One: This is what I made as a brand new doula!

Most of this stuff is not necessary at a birth, but I would rather be overly prepared than under prepared. It does all fit into one bag now, and without fail I have pulled stuff out at a birth and had someone comment on my bottomless Mary Poppins bag-o-tricks!

- copy of their birth plan (I’ve been called on the way to the hospital from a parent realizing they forgot their copy.)
- pens & notepaper, business cards – to write a birth timeline, notes (I now do this on my phone with a text app.)
- massage lotion & cooling peppermint leg gel (I have parents bring there own after several allergy concerns discussed in prenatal visits.)
- massagers (tennis ball, rolling ones, etc.) (I now have parents bring whatever their favorite is as I mostly use my hands!)
- trail bars & chocolate
- rebozo
- Vitamin Water
- ziplock bags in variety of sizes (instant ice pack, wrap in towel)
- Depends & chux pad (if her water breaks) (I have parents get their own now.)
- Yummy Earth lollipops & peppermint drops (good for nausea, no corn syrup in them), gum
- Colgate Wisp (disposable toothbrush if mom vomits and can’t get up to rinse mouth) & mouthwash
- bendy straws (for her to drink while reclined – the hospital has them but they’re in a locked room)
- spray bottle for cooling off mom
- peppermint and orange essential oils (I carry a DoTerra keychain with mini bottles.)
- cotton balls (to put essential oil drops on)
- hairband & barrette to get mom’s hair out of her face while laboring
- handheld mirror (Hospital and birth center have these.)
- fan (handheld small one – great for cooling off mom)
- rice pack (with washable cover)
- small felt birdies I sew up for the new babies if I have a minute during longer labors (though my moms seem to be going too fast for that!) (These were fun but I no longer do them.)
- iPod and headphones (They bring their own.)
- LED flashlight on my keychain
- herbal bath mix to send home with them (We do at prenatal as moms have enough to keep tabs on at the birth.)
- Tiara! (Funny, but I don’t carry these or medals anymore.)
- Gold medals
- small LED press light, in case things are dark for mom’s comfort but we need some extra light
- a new chapstick for each mom – I’m so glad I had this for the most recent birth! Mom’s lips were so chapped and I didn’t want to dig through her bag to find hers.
- One doula keeps frozen cookie dough balls in the freezer and throws in a batch to bake as she gets ready to meet a laboring client. She gives them to the L&D nurses to help make sure that (a) they’ll be nice to her client (b) they’ll view doulas in a positive light. :) Bribery. I left some cookies at the front desk of a birth I attended in the hospital, I had a nurse come find me to give me a hug and say thank you! (Update – did this again and it was a huge hit!)

Personal stuff for me in the doula bag:
wallet & change purse (nice to have if family members need snack from vending machine or if I do!)
water bottle
Coke (which I normally only use for migraines but good for emergencies or tired dads!) (I no longer carry, hospital and birth center has them.)
chapstick & lotion (I wash hands a lot at a birth!)
hand sanitizer
snacks, Emergenc-C, Real Lemon
mini first aid kit
toothbrush, toothpaste, deoderant for those long births!
my doula jacket as those hospitals can be cold!

I will bring my camera bag (still and video cameras) because at most of the births I’ve been able to attend I did video and photograph when I wasn’t needed otherwise and handed off the video camera to grandma or dad when the mom needed me.

MY PERSONAL BAG (left in car with breastpump):
change clothes
feminine hygiene stuff

MORE OPTIONS: (I’ve not done these.)
- yummy scented hand lotions in travel size to give to nurse
- lighter, in case mom wanted candles lit at her home birth so I don’t have to dig through stuff to find them

This is what my bags looked like when I did my certification assignment:

It sounds like a lot and I’ve played around with various bags but I can actually get my camera equipment, doula essentials, and personal items all into one bag (with my back up bag and breastpump left in the car in case I need them.) Here’s what I’ve consolidated down to after a few births!


Version Two post here.

Version Three was the top black camera bag. :) Much simpler, and now mostly camera equipment.

This entry was posted in Assignment, Birth, Doulas, TIPS FOR DOULAS and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Doula Bag Supplies List (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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