Sometimes I'll hear from a mom that she's not sure if she wants a doula or birth photographer, and there are a few common reasons why:
1. I'm having a c-section, I don't need a doula/photographer. Well, depending on your care provider and hospital a second person (doula/photographer) may be allowed into the OR, and we're pretty useful there! You can read more specifics here, but remember that my work as your doula begins before birth - from helping you write down your birth "plan" or hopes to providing education, resources & reading materials. Postpartum I provide continued care, even more important for a mom recovering from a cesarean birth! Whether it's a planned or unanticipated c-section, I can help you and our partner through the experience. Even if I'm not allowed into the OR due to hospital policy or special circumstances, I can still wait in recovery to help with immediate postpartum support, nursing, and ensure mom isn't left alone while her partner is with the baby in the nursery.
My third child was a cesarean birth. Due to the situation my husband was not allowed to be with me in the OR and I have often thought I wish HE had a doula during that experience! I've been in the OR as secondary and primary support, and sometimes the dad needs lots of care just like the mom. I'm there for you both.
I also take pretty pictures - yes, even in the OR, where this cute girl was born.
2. I've given birth before, I don't need a doula/photographer
Well, EVERY baby deserve pictures. Yes, even if you didn't get them with an older child - a reason I've heard given for not hiring a photographer with subsequent babies. Really?? You are not going to be able to treat your children exactly the same and you shouldn't. When you learn better you do better. That includes getting pictures. 😉
And regardless of how or where you birthed before, EVERY birth is different. I didn't hire a doula until my fifth birth and WOW, she helped so much! Every single birth can benefit from the support and care of a doula.
I just checked - exactly half of my clients were first time parents, the other half were having their 2nd through 5th babies. Some had hired a doula at prior births, others were trying for their first meds free birth and wanted a doula, others were planning a medicated birth but thought doula support would be a helpful addition.
3. I'm getting the epidural, so I don't need a doula/photographer.
No pictures for this one, because who does or does not choose to have medication during birth is confidential. 🙂 But I can get beautiful photos of your lovely laboring self no matter how or where you labor, and every gorgeous baby deserves pictures.
There are actually DONA conference talks on how to support a mom through an epidural assisted birth, and I have all sorts of tricks to help ease & speed your labor if you opt for medication. I'm going to work with whatever YOU decide is best for YOUR birth. That's my job.
I opted to have an epidural with my first birth. I share that because some moms have told me they thought doulas were anti-epidural or only supported moms having natural births. I'm sorry doulas would give anyone that impression, because our role is to support - not judge. I'm going to help you make an informed choice and I'm going to support that choice. There may also be situations in which an epidural is the best course of action and can help prevent greater interventions. I'm there to help you through no matter what course of action is best for you.
4. I'm not sure if I want to go without the meds, so I don't need a doula.
If you are interested in laboring without the meds, then having a doula is a REALLY good idea. I'm going to help you decide what coping techniques you want to try, explore ALL your options, come up with a code word to help you let me know what you need, and support your partner in supporting you. Having a doula does increase the likelihood of giving birth without meds so if that's something you are interested in I would strongly encourage you to explore the doula option.
5. My partner is my labor support and I don't want them to feel displaced, so I don't need a doula.
Part of why I meet with a couple before the birth (more than once) is so that we can sit down and talk as a support team. I need to know what your partner is concerned about, I need them to feel comfortable talking to me and telling me what to do and asking me questions. I need to explain to them that I'm not only watching out for mom, but I'm also watching out for them. If they've not eaten in a few hours I'm going to make sure mom is comfortable and send dad out for food or have someone bring it in. I'll be reminding them to stretch, drink, use the bathroom, update family, and sometimes I'm finding a pillow and blanket and ordering them to lay down before they collapse from exhaustion. I do not at ALL displace your partner - I help them take care of you, so they don't feel the pressure of trying to remember everything!
As a photographer I capture the moments of you and your partner meeting and holding your baby for the first time. I quietly snap the shot of your partner supporting you through labor, leaning in for a kiss, sharing that smile. While your partner may be a fantastic photographer, this is one of those situations in which we really want them to be IN the photos, not behind the camera.
There are more reasons I've heard, but we'll save those for another post. Hopefully this addresses some of the most common reasons cited, and helps alleviate some of those concerns.
Here is my more detailed opinion on why a birth photographer is worth the investment!