As I continue with this hybrid series; part essay and part photo-essay about the Tools of My Trade, I am drawn to discuss my birth kit and tools. This post was inspired by an article that I recently stumbled across. It highlights midwives from around the world; Bangladesh, Guinea, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Pakistan and what they each carry in their birth kits. Please check it out here as you prepare to read my piece. I found it fascinating to have this opportunity to look into the lives of these midwives. Many items, I instantly recognize and have in my own kit, others were puzzling and I had to do some research. Some kits were very small and simple while others were big with many items. When I was laying out my birth kit to photograph, I started with only the basics, then I decided to add more and eventually had to reign it back in a bit. In the end, I went with the items that are used at the time of birth and the immediate postpartum period.
Contents of my Birth Kit:
- Blood pressure cuff and stethoscopes. Monitoring my clients blood pressure in labor is an integral part of care, I also do an assessment upon admission that includes listening to her heart and lungs. There is of course, also a newborn stethoscope to listen to baby after the birth.
- Thermometer. This is used for both Mother and Baby as part of the monitoring process.
- Doppler. This is used to listen to fetal heart tones during labor. It is waterproof, so I can listen while she is in the birth pool, or shower. It is also mobile, so I can accommodate the needs of the birthing person and go to them instead of making them adjust to me.
- Instruments: two clamps and scissors. These are primarily for clamping and cutting the umbilical cord…well after the birth, it is no longer pulsing and the blood has drained to the baby. However, very rarely, I have had to cut an episiotomy with the scissors. Needle driver and another pair of scissors, these are for perineal/vaginal/labial repair of lacerations postpartum.
- Sterile umbilical clamp. Applied to the cord stump after the cord is cut from the placenta.
- Gauze pads. These have many uses…I am sure you can imagine and guess.
- A syringe and needle set. This is used to administer medications; either to treat or prevent postpartum hemorrhage or for lidocaine prior to a laceration repair.
- Neonatal Ambu bag. Used in the rare cases where Neonatal Resuscitation is necessary for the baby immediately after birth.
- AfterEase herbal tincture blend from Wishgarden Herbs. This is a fantastic blend to help ease the after birth cramps that can occur, especially with folks who have had more than one baby. I have used and worked with Wishgarden Herbs for many years and have always found their blends and the quality of their tinctures to be phenomenal. They have some wonderful blends for labor support (Smooth Transitions and Centered Mama) as well. I highly recommend checking them out. Also, I do not have a problem giving clients oral Ibuprofen to treat the after pains if they desire.
- Homeopathic Arnia pellets. I enjoy working with homeopathic remedies in the labor and immediate postpartum periods. I will often recommend Arnica as a treatment for perineal edema and pain and have found it to work wonders.
- Medications. Pictured is a vial of Pitocin, never used by me in the birth center during labor, only in the postpartum period and not at every birth. A vial of 2% Lidocaine used as anesthesia for laceration repair.
- Suture material. Typically, I use 3-0 Vicryl on a CT-1 taper needle. Pictured is a Polysorb suture/needle set, honestly casue the packaging is purple and looked better in the picture, heehee!
- Sterile gloves. Similar to the gauze pads, I am sure you can figure out the many uses of these.
- Stainless steel tray. Before birth this is used to hold the birth related instruments, the neonatal ambu bag and a pair of sterile gloves. Then, wherever the birthing person is when the baby is born, I can have those crucial pieces right next to us. After birth, I sue a stainless steel tray to hold the supplies for laceration repair while doing the stitches.
- One of my primary tools is not pictured, I talk about them here in the post called These Hands.
- Waterbirth supplies are also not pictured: the birth pool, a waterproof flashlight, a mirror and a fishnet.
I could add many more items; rebozos, birth balls, aromatherapy supplies, birth stools, etc. But I had to stop somewhere. So, what do you think? Do any of my items stand out? How is your birth kit different and what would you add or remove? I’d love to see other pictures. And don’t think I have forgotten the doulas and birth photographers…you have birth kits as well and I would love to hear about them.
Image credit Aubre Tompkins