By Judith Elaine Halek
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 sixty-five centimeter 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 o a small box of soft Kleenex
- lavender essence 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 essence 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 she¹s 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 Napierala16; The Waterbirth Handbook, The Gentle Art of Waterbirthing by Dr. Roger Lichy & Eileen Herzberg17; and Water Birth, The Concise Guide to Using Water during Pregnancy Birth and Infancy by Janet Balaskas and Yehudi Gordon.18
- 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. Urinating in the water is fine. Urine is sterile and clearing the bladder will make room for the babies’ 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.