Besides being a doula I'm also a couponer. yes, I'm one of those wierd people who goes shopping with at least 5 or more coupons and price matches, and basically knows every deal and freebie in town. When it came to building my doula bag, I of course put my skills to work!
I just went through my doula bag last night and by my count over half of the stuff in it I got for free or very cheap. So here are some tips on how to do that for yourself:
1) Get acquainted with couponing sites such as couponchristine.com or savealoonie.com Join their Facebook pages, get on their email lists to keep up to date on offers of coupons and free samples available in Canada. Couponing can get you deals on things like your favorite brand of unscented lotion (handy labor massage, dry hospitals...) and even help you get free samples. For example I just got a package from Johnson and Johnson healthy essentials that contained things like: unscented aveeno baby lotion, unscented aveeno body lotion, Listerine and extra strength Tylenol, all of which have a space in my doula bag either for my comfort or a clients.
2) Get crafty. Do you have a sewing machine, and some rice? you can make your own rice bags/socks for heating/freezing for your clients. a simple craft is a tennis ball massager, take a clean sock, fill it with 3 tennis balls and voila! it's a back massager that you can roll across your clients back for for comfort! the sky is the limit here. Make your own labor massage oil, Make a small birthing rope for your clients use at home or hospital
3) The dollar store is now your best freaking friend! you can get some travel bottles to fill with massage oil, lotions etc. Those cheap make up bags they sell?- can help your doula bag organization. Need a hand mirror so mom can see the baby's head crowning? need a bottle for spritzing water to help cool off mom? travel toothbrushes? travel size toiletries for yourself? hair ties...you get the picture.
4) Shop boxing day sales every year. this year I got a massager that holds water (convenient for hospitals, since I can use hot/cold tap water in it) for half the price. Every store usually brings out gift items for Christmas, like massagers for example... so boxing day/week is a great time to get good deals on comfort type items. I got my smartphone extra cheap on boxing day too- which is totally relevant to this because I pretty much got it for doula-ing
5) Learn about and start collecting shoppers drug mart points. You can then use your points for things like witch hazel, emergen-c packets, a first aid kit for your bag, or medical gloves for yourself etc. Here's a great guide for shoppers drug mart points :http://www.mrsjanuary.com/shoppers-optimum-guide/
Contact Lansinoh and Medela, tell them you are a doula looking for samples and they will send you a large one time package of samples. Make sure to tell them how awesome they are for doing it too!
Did you know that you can contact Johnson and Johnson for a free trial size pack of their products? again- gentle soaps and lotions are handy for a doula bag, so are the breast pads that come with it too. Juust fill out the contact form: https://secure.jnjcanada.com/jjgcc/contact-us.aspx?__redir=true
Also, keep an eye out for any prenatal fairs or baby expos in your area, you can get valuable coupons and baby related freebies such as wipes, newborn size diapers, and even bottles (well worth any admission price under 10$) Even mom sales are worth a look for things like a moby wrap (can be used as a rebozo, or as a birth rope) or baby books and childbirth books, hey you could even a nice gently used diaper bag to use as your doula bag. I have gotten countless samples/freebies/coupons from those shows.
Also check out this cute/handy little infographic:
I hope all of that helps my doula friends!
Got any other tips?: Comment below!