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October 19, 2020

How I Play Both “Roles” | Birth Doula and Photographer

Many people within the birth community (including my past self) think it’s not possible or efficient to be a photographer and a doula at the same time. They think that one role will suffer and in turn, the parents may have a lack of support or photos. As I’ve grown into my role as birth photographer and recently taken on the role of birth doula for a few mommas, I have changed my opinion on the subject.

When I was first hired as a doula for a friend of mine, I took on the role knowing that I may take less photos than usual, or none at all. She hired me primarily as a doula and we discussed what was expected of me. As her due date approached, I started to feel anxious even though I was confident in my ability – would I get any photos? Would I feel like I wasn’t giving her a “complete” experience without photos?

doula and birth photographer

Once I arrived at the hospital, all my nerves went away and I got to work. It all boils down to one simple thing: just be supportive. I paid attention to her needs and tried to anticipate what might help her in any given situation. I snapped a few photos when I could (mostly after baby arrived) and it was truly just a wonderful experience.

On the flip side, I’ve served many women with my primary role being birth photographer. I often jump in with my essential oils, or my portable fan to help and that usually happens very seamlessly alongside taking photos. For me, the two go hand in hand. My hope is that I’ll get to know my clients well enough that being a hands-on support person will feel comfortable if needed. I no longer want to be that “fly on the wall” photographer if a momma needs extra attention.

mom pushing during labor

(That’s my hand in the corner of the photo above!)

Being able to walk alongside someone who is bringing life into the world is something I’ll never quite get over. In either role – photographer or doula – I feel a sense of honor unlike anything else. Being welcomed into that space is certainly not something I take lightly.

So on to the point: have I been able to balance the two roles? The answer is yes and no! Yes, I was able to fully support my client AND provide them with images that they love. No, I’m not able to do both jobs in the same way as having two people each playing one role. I think you, as the birthing person, need to weigh the pros and cons of having someone doing both things versus having two support people at your birth.

dad and nurse supporting mom

In today’s world of Covid and hospital visitor restrictions, having someone who can do both things may be your only option so I want you to know it *can* be done and it can be done well.

And honestly, if nobody ever hires me as their doula ever again, I’m still so grateful for my training and for how I’ve learned to support birthing families over the years. I not only have a passion for documenting birth but I have a passion for supporting women through birth. I want to be a resource and a guide for you if you need one. I want to be the hands-on and emotional support you need during labor. I want to continue to grow in these two roles in order to best serve my community. I just love this job so much and can’t wait to see how I grow in the next few years.

Learn more about my doula services HERE.

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