The importance of food while at a birth can not be overemphasized. . When we head out to a birth, we may be gone for a long time, so it is absolutely essential to bring snacks with us. Perfect snacks for doulas are ones that won't make our breath bad, or that a laboring mama won't be able to smell. Laboring women's' senses are heightened, and so bad breath or smelly food are definitely faux-pas. Trail mix and granola bars are good, onion-flavored potato chips are bad. And chocolate? Chocolate almost always makes things better.
2. Massage Tools
There are all sorts of different tools we like to use to help a mama relax during or in between her contractions. Massage tools in all shapes and sizes, tennis balls, and our hands are what I find myself using time and time again. Many doulas bring massage oil or cornstarch as well, to help give good massages with our hands. Your doula will probably bring scented and unscented oils, just in case you can't stand the smell of the fragrant one. A scent that you usually love can quickly become unbearable when you're in labor. Your doula knows this, hence she comes prepared for whatever will help you best.
3. Heat/cool Packs
It has long been known that heat or cold can greatly help reduce aches and pains. Just think about when you're sore and you get in a nice hot bath. The same concepts apply in labor and birth. Your doula probably has a rice sock that can be popped in the microwave, along with a freezable pack to deliver cold to sore muscles. I've also found that a cool washcloth does just as good as a job of delivering relief.
4. Kneeling Pad
By far, this is the one tool that I use most often. It's a small portable gardening kneeling pad. I will often find myself kneeling behind a mom to rub her back or doing counter pressure when she's having a contraction, and this kneeling pad is a knee saver! I know some people just use a pillow for the same thing, but it comes nowhere near comparing to having a nice piece of foam under your knees especially if you're in that position for a long time. It is essential for your doula that she takes care of her body as she is taking care of you, and this tool does a great job of that.
5. Heart and Hands- or Leaving your Bag in the Car
After many births where I lugged my doula bag out of my car, into the birthing area, never to touch it the whole time, I've learned that sometimes the best tools are the ones I always have and don't need to remember to put in my doula bag- my heart and my hands. These are the tools that can be brought out at a moment's notice, and time and time again, I find myself using these tools solely at a birth.
As a doula gains more experience, she may also find that the tools that she used to lug around to every birth are not as paramount. Often the simplest things lead to the best results.
So ask your doula, what's in your doula bag?