Tool Bag

Midwifery Today 2000.
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In my tool bag as a water labor or birth labor assistant, I include extra equipment besides the standard labor assistant accoutrements:

  • Rubberized thong slippers
  • A one piece swimsuit or body leotard (in case I have to get into the water; first I take a shower)
  • A short terry cloth robe
  • A water bottle for myself filled with part juice or tea mixed with honey and water
  • An underwater watch to check a second hand during contractions
  • Rescue Remedy (a Bach flower remedy) for all attending the birth
  • One or two sterilized small inflatable pillows for the mother to lean against in the water
  • An infusion of raspberry leaf tea, a spoon, and honey for the “drizzle” mentioned earlier
  • A bag of bendable straws for the mother in the shower or tub
  • An extra set of clothing if something gets wet
  • A green 65 cm birthing ball for birth attendants to sit on while the mother is in the tub or for the mother to use while in the shower
  • Two rolls of soft toilet paper wrapped in a clean plastic bag
  • A small box of soft Kleenex
  • Lavender essential oil (5 to 10 drops in the tub, great antiseptic); I also like to keep on hand a spray bottle of lavender: Using a small spritzer bottle filled with purified, filtered or distilled water, I add 10 drops of lavender essential oil (I buy a large supply bottle then put into a smaller dropper bottle), ice chips to make it cool, and spray on the mother when she’s in the waterbirth tub (I make sure ahead of time that lavender does not make the woman nauseous—so far, all women like it)
  • Hand lotion that is not greasy
  • Lip balm because the water tends to dry out my lips and hands
  • Three books: Water Birth, A Midwife’s Perspective by Susanna Napierala; The Waterbirth Handbook, The Gentle Art of Waterbirthing by Dr. Roger Lichy and Eileen Herzberg; and Water Birth, The Concise Guide to Using Water during Pregnancy Birth and Infancy by Janet Balaskas and Yehudi Gordon.
  • Thermometer: If I am attending a homebirth, I usually include a thermometer to check temperature of the mother if I suspect she might have a fever. It is amazing how many people do not have a thermometer in their homes. Generally a doula does not perform any medical procedures, and taking the temperature is such a procedure. I have the father take the mother’s temperature to see if it is high.
  • Scooper: I also suggest to the parents that if the pool rental does not supply a scooper for scooping out fecal and birth matter released in the water during labor or birth, they purchase one from a local pet store, sterilize it and wrap it in a plastic Ziploc bag. Urinating in the water is fine. Urine is sterile and clearing the bladder will make room for the baby’s head to dip down. I suggest, however, that all labor attendants in the water use the bathroom facilities.
  • Stainless steel or plastic bowl: Birthing the placenta under the water is medically safe. Generally it is up to the medical caregiver and his or her comfort level and experience in supporting this. Whether birthing at a home, birth center, or hospital, I suggest parents bring a clean, large stainless steel or plastic bowl to place the placenta in if birthed in the water. A small bowl floating on the water will sink with a good size placenta.

About Author: Judith Elaine Halek

Judith Elaine Halek is the founder and director of Birth Balance, an East Coast resource center for underwater birth, started in 1987. One of the original labor support doulas in New York City, she has pioneered alternative choices in childbirth throughout the tri-state area. Judith is a birth photographer, consultant and counselor, massage and fitness therapist, writer, educator, speaker and producer of 39 documentaries on “alternatives in childbirth.” Judith lives in NYC, where she has been since 1982, with her deaf 19-year-old cat, Venus. Her passions are photography and writing.

Judith can be contacted directly at: Judith@BirthBalance.com. Website: BirthBalance.com. Contact number: 212-222-4349 (phone/fax). Mailing address: Judith Halek, Birth Balance, 309 W. 109th St., Suite 6D, NYC, NY 10025.

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