Every now and again, a prospective client asks “what do you bring to the hospital when I’m in labor?”

The short answer: Some snacks for me, a water bottle, an extra pair of socks (for me), my wallet and a phone charger.

The long answer: Some snacks for me, a water bottle, an extra pair of socks (for me), my wallet and a phone charger. But that wasn’t always the case.

When I first began my career as a doula, I thought it was my responsibility to bring a birthing ball (shortly thereafter, a peanut ball, too) and a huge bag of stuff. Never mind that the hospital had almost every thing I lugged into the room with me. Never mind that they were better at sanitizing for the next person. And never mind the arrogance I’m certain I radiated when I unpacked in front of the staff. 

Honestly, I was a total jerk. It never surprises me when a nurse or a doctor shares, with me, their bad experiences with doulas… it doesn’t surprise me because, nine years ago, I was one of those doulas. 

A doula who always knew best. 
A doula who thought OBs were money-hungry control freaks, eager to get home for supper…or the proverbial golf game.
A doula who believed nurses laughed and poked fun of their patients’ birth plans as they wadded them up at the [nurses’] station.
A doula who had an agenda.
A doula who let their ego get in the way of collaborative, mutually respectful relationships.

And while I never overtly contradicted a care provider, unplugged my clients from their monitors without permission or guidance from their nurses, put my hand in front of a pair of scissors about to cut an episiotomy, or secretly hoped for an accidental home birth (or any other opportunity to catch a baby), my birth bag and arms-load-of-balls did some serious damage to my relationship (as a doula) with hospital staff. 

Ok, I get it, maybe I sound silly equating an overflowing doula bag with interrupting a medical procedure… but hear me out.

My overflowing bag articulated (in zero words) exactly how I felt about hospitals. About hospital staff. About my role in my clients’ births. I didn’t have to tell the staff that I thought I knew best… it was all over the room. 

  • It didn’t take long for me to realize that the nurse’s big pink basin was just as capable of holding an ice bath as my cooler with doula printed on the front. 
  • Or that some microwaved wash cloths, a chux pad, and some tape make a bigger, better, and warmer heating pad than any branded rice sock ever could.
  • That hospitals have a seemingly unlimited supply of bedsheets that are a) washed by someone else and b) far better alternatives to carrying around a culturally appropriated rebozo.
  • That my birth ball was literally the exact same as the one the staff offered…only without a cute little cover (that picked up all.the.germs.). My peanut ball, too.

It didn’t take me long to realize that nurses, doctors, midwives, and everyone on my clients’ care team had their [my clients’] best interests at heart. That, while their individual practices or hospital policies may have varied, they all wanted one thing at the end of every day… a healthy outcome for their patients. (What, did you think it was a four o’clock tee time?)

At Doulas of Cincinnati, we’re not interested in hitching our baggage (birth bags or otherwise) to your birthing day. In fact, we work tirelessly to unpack (and let go of) any biases or preconceived notions we may have picked up before we walk into your space on the big day. 

My arms, for one, are thankful!