Hacks for birth doulas - from doulas!

Earlier in the year I supported a client at a home water birth. They had a birth pool, so to protect their flooring they had bought some self-adhesive carpet protection roll. You know, the stuff that decorators use. It took me and my client's husband a matter of seconds to cover the entire floor, and once it was down it stayed down. It didn't budge at all until I pulled it up after the birth, it provided grippiness so we didn't have to worry about slipping over (unlike tarp or shower curtains), it didn't make annoying crinkly noises and, of course, it protected their floor. And when I did pull it all up it left the carpet looking like it had been freshly vacuumed. Bonus!

After the birth I sent a message to my WhatsApp cuddle of local doulas, telling them that this carpet protection roll was a gamechanger. "I'll be recommending it to all my home birth clients!" I said. And it got me thinking, what practical tips and tricks have other doulas learnt along the way? Things that you might not think of straight away but that turn out to be really useful? So I asked them!

Practical tips for birth doulas - from doulas!

Don't be afraid to rest when necessary!
You don't need to have all the answers, its ok to say "I don't know, I'll find out for you".
A rebozo is the best item you can have! It can be used for so many things including a scarf/shawl for yourself, a head covering to shield from harsh lighting & of course all the useful ways it's used for the birthing person.
Have snacks & coffee on hand! 
    Carly Lokrheim

Thermal cup. Relaxation track for you after a birth when you're home. Also essential oil blends. If my client isn't keen I know I need something to help me, it can be an emotional rollercoaster. Also lip balm. And a flapjack. Always a flapjack. And a powerbank for my 'phone! 
    - Jo Farren

Mine is massage. Keep it simple! Light touch means a lot more than strength. 
    Azeeta Nielson

For doulas, fill up your cup. Freeze food and put it in your bag or, I personally take a 12 hour thermos with a nutritious soup that I can keep sipping. I also took a pot of local honey last time as now I find my voice gets tired from soothing and a spoon of honey eases my throat. 
    Jess Slender

Take good coffee in your birth bag. The hospital instant stuff is gross.
Also carry mints - coffee breath - or any kind of breath is often not the memory you want your clients to be left with. 
Don't assume everyone likes lavender! Lavender seeps into every corner of your birth bag and if you get a client who hates it, it's a nightmare.
Carry a sieve, mirror, torch.
Holding space often looks to the naked eye like nothing - sometimes we are a Be-la not a Do-ula. 
    - Katie Olliffe

Paracetamol. I always get a headache, be it hospital or home. Snacks, mints, slippers, (my feet are always cold), and phone charger. Layers, in case it’s cold or too warm. Padded yoga mat in car in case I need it for a nap somewhere. Coffee bags. 

Care for yourself properly during your on call period. Reduce your stress, eat and sleep well and make time to be outdoors in nature.
Being at your best will keep your mind sharp, your heart full of compassion and your energy calm and grounding in the birth room. 

I often wear a comfy dungaree dress with pockets - ideal for stuffing in oils, tissues, hairbands, phone...
Picked up a load of inflatable pillows in a sale... great for birthing person if they get comfy on the toilet, on the floor, or for knees in the hard-surfaced pool. Or for Doula to rest, anywhere!
Set up Whatsapp group with everyone involved.
If I think I'm going to be called soon, I take a bath if I'm able to - it's my anchor! 

I buy flannels in bulk so that I have a new one for each client. Fantastic for keeping mama cool and can be used as warm perineal compress too.
I have lots of battery operated tea lights and especially lovely are the ones that float in water
I second taking honey. Honey water can be a game changer for a tired mama and a doula pick me up.

Have a pillow and blanket in the car for a little nap before driving home. A disposable nappy opened up makes a great makeshift maternity pad. The toilet is a magic place in labour. A watched pot never boils. Don't go to hospital til labour is on a rolling boil.

The beauty of home birth is simplicity - it doesn't need to be complicated.

I always take a refreshing face spritz for everyone to use, and hair clips (fringes can be so irritating).
    - Rosie Goode

And one final tip from me: as I always get my period when my clients go into labour, period pants mean I don't have to worry about it!

My name is Sian and I am a doula, birth photographer, placenta remedies specialist and hypnobirthing practitioner supporting clients across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Milton Keynes. If you're curious about how I can support you during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum you can get in touch here