At one of my very first births where I was hired as both the doula and the birth photographer the labor and delivery nurse came in and made the comment, “Well, which one are you, since you can’t be both.” As a newbie to both roles I immediately started to doubt myself and feel very inadequate. Can I do both and do them well? Fast-forward six years and I can confidently say that, YES, I can, and do, both very well. The types of threads that put women down are all over birth boards/Facebook and they make me worry for a couple reasons.
- Just because you can’t do something, doesn’t I can’t either. It is not your job to tell someone else they can or can’t do something. You focus on you, and I will focus on me.
- It is alarming for me to see people that work in the birth field telling women, regardless if they are the birthing mom or not, that they can’t do something. It is not our job to tell women what they are capable of, either in a birthing space or not. If someone on your birth team is telling you this it is a red flag!
- I don’t know of any doula that wouldn’t take photos for you during your birth. The real difference surrounds the quality of the images and products you would receive.
The next important question I get asked a lot is how do you do both?
Just as doctors, midwives and nurses have different styles of how they care for moms, so do doulas and photographers. So much of it is your personality and making sure you are working with clients that are a great fit. A lot of the work of being a doula takes place before you even step into the delivery room. Building trust, a relationship and an understanding about your client is key to helping them have a positive birth experience. As a photographer I have learned how to take photographs that tell the story without having to take thousands of photos at one birth. It is easy for me to recognize those key moments while physically and mentally supporting the family. There is no secret formula. It just feels natural to me.
What should you look for if you are hiring a doulatog?
- If you are wanting professional images and someone for labor support, look for someone that you could easily hire for just one of those roles. Could they just be a photographer? Could they just be your doula? If the answer is no, then ask yourself if you are okay with that.
- Are they willing to work with another doula or photographer if you only hire them for one role?
- Do they have references?
- Do they have backups for each role or another doulatog you feel comfortable with?
- Can they answer your questions about their role easily and how do their answers make you feel?
- Do they have professional training, certifications or continuing education that demonstrates a level of commitment you feel comfortable with?
- Do they have insurance? Yes, I believe doulas and photographers should have insurance!
It is okay if you can’t do both, we all have different strengths we bring to a birth. Market your strengths to potential clients, without cutting down others. The birth world is a diverse as the women we are supporting and documenting. Let’s start supporting our fellow doulas and put an end to this debate.
Sarah Boccolucci is a maternity, birth and newborn photographer AND a doula that serves Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and surrounding areas.