What is it like to work with a birth photographer who is also a doula?
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine what it would feel like to have an empowered labor and birth experience. What do you picture? Are you resting peacefully, clutching your fresh newborn safely to your chest, your partner at your side, knowing all the choices you made to get to this point have been heard and your feelings validated? While capturing the moment of birth is certainly a significant part of what I do as a birth photographer, as a Portland doula photographer there’s so much more I can do to support you on your journey to this moment.
When you reach out to inquire about my doula photographer services, I will answer your initial questions and confirm my availability during your birth window via email or phone. Next, we will choose a time to meet. For this ‘getting to know you’ consultation, we will meet at a local coffee shop or go for a stroll at your favorite park as we chat. This gives you an opportunity to learn more about me and get a sense of my energy. If you have a partner, they should be there too! The people you choose to join you in your birth space should feel like a good fit for you and your partner.
As a parent, I know that every decision you make regarding your birth and baby is a big one. Each individual on your birth team brings a unique presence to the birth space. After our chat, take a few days to decide if I am the right fit for your family. If you decide you’d like to have me beside you on your birthing journey, I can help you choose the doula care and birth photography package that will work best for your needs.
Preparing For Birth With a Doula
After booking me as your Portland doula photographer, we will meet again, preferably in the comfort of your home. During this time, we will discuss your birth and photography preferences so that I honor your wishes and help create the best possible experience for you. Some clients hire me to capture both the physical and emotional aspects of labor, while some prefer a more modest gallery that focuses on emotion and connection to their partner. I do my very best to deliver a gallery that honors your birth photography preferences.
If you choose a package with prenatal doula care, we will use this time to review evidence-based materials meant to help you make decisions about various interventions, introduce tools and comfort techniques to use in labor, and answer any other questions you may have. Your previous experiences and feelings will be validated and you will feel empowered with knowledge and tools for comfort. If needed, you can borrow a book from my extensive doula lending library or I can also help you connect to the many great prenatal and postpartum services throughout Portland. Because I am a Brave Birth Doula Care affiliated doula, you will also become part of the Brave Birth Community which includes reduced rates on childbirth classes, and free postpartum New Parent Support circles.
As Your Due Date Approaches
By the time you reach full term, you will be feeling confident with your birth plan and that your birth team is informed of your preferences. Starting at 37 weeks gestation (except in special situations) I will officially be on call for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means that I will be prepared to come to your place of birth within an hour of receiving your call. Due to the unpredictable nature of birth, I always arrange back-up birth photographers. In the event I cannot attend client’s birth for any reason, a trusted back-up doula photographer may be sent to your birth and will be made fully aware of your birth plan.
Doula Support in Labor
For clients choosing doula care combined with birth photography, I will come to be with you in labor when you feel like you need my presence. Of course, I will also be available by phone or text up until that time to answer questions and provide encouragement. For clients choosing birth photography only, I come when you are in active labor (around 5 cm dilation).
During labor, I move fluidly from an emotional and physical support role to photographer. I continue to offer unbiased information for any interventions that may arise so that you can make decisions with confidence and feel respected by your birth team. I may help you try a new position or show your partner a comfort technique. Then, when you are both feeling fully supported, I will step back and take a photo of the powerful work you are doing together. I notice emotions, moments of quiet and intensity, and capture them artistically. I also take images of the environment and objects in the room. These details that you may otherwise forget, are a huge part of your story.
My use of light helps to convey the time of day and the passing of time. I use a combination of natural and ambient light available in the room, as well as a discreet flash as needed to document your story as it unfolds. This allows me to capture sharp images while you labor in a dimly lit environment. When you don’t need me or are resting, I will melt into the background, maintaining a quiet, grounding presence, or I may step away for a few moments to give you time alone with your partner.
At the Moment of Birth
As you meet your baby for the first time, I capture the physical and emotional details of the moment: your and your partner’s reactions, first eye contact with baby, first feeding, weighing and measurements, and all those sweet wrinkly baby parts. You and your partner get enjoy this time together, knowing that not a detail will be missed. If you are introducing your family to baby soon after birth, I am there to capture their reactions.
Approximately two hours after meeting your baby, you will be ready for a much deserved rest. I will check in with you before I leave to make sure you have everything you need before heading home.
In the Days that Follow…
Within 24 hours of birth, while you are falling in love with your sweet baby, I will email you a couple of my initial favorite images from your story.
You can expect to receive an email invitation to your private online image gallery by 4 weeks postpartum. If you choose a payment plan, your full gallery will be sent to you when your account is paid in full. Some packages include an album with all the birth story images of your choosing. This custom album will be ready to enjoy 4-6 after your final image selection…and cherished for many years to come.
Packages that include full Portland doula care include two postpartum doula visits within the first few weeks postpartum. During this visit, I can support your transition into parenthood however you need. I may assist with breastfeeding, answer newborn care questions, do a load of laundry and prepare a nutritious meal, or help connect you to other resources to nurture your family during your ‘fourth trimester.”
Every family and birth story is so unique! The images I capture convey the connections and love between members of the family in a very special and intense time. I consider it an honor to support you and will forever be thankful for walking beside you on your journey.
If you are thinking about birth photography, but unsure of which combination of doula care and birth photography is right for you, I would be happy to talk over the phone or meet with you and answer any questions you may have. Reach out today, as space is limited to 2 due dates per month!