If you would have asked me last year what a doula was, I would have said, "you want to do what?!" I'd never even heard the word "doula." But then, like magic, I fell into this world of birth photography with the birth of my grand baby, Leo. Baby Leo.
After several births, all involving doulas, my kids would ask me what a doula was. I never new quite how to explain it. I'd say things like, "well...she's the birth coach...friend...maybe even like a cheerleader for the mom. She reminds the woman to breathe and helps her stay calm." Typically, this description of a doula earns me blank stares for a few seconds and then they go about their business pretending I've said nothing because they don't know what to respond. Typical teenagers.
Occasionally, I've wondered what it would be like to attend a natural birth without a doula. Then, a few weeks ago, it finally happened. I found myself photographing a birth at The Retreat and there was no doula. I have to admit I felt a little lost and out of place. I even felt like I was roaming the room a little trying to keep busy. Don't get me wrong, the love in the room was very strong and it was evident to me that dad was going to do everything in his power to keep mom as comfortable as humanly possible, but it was obvious to me that they needed support.
As the hours passed and labor progressed, I found it more and more difficult to JUST be a photographer. I felt torn and didn't want to overstep my bounds by giving advice that I didn't feel qualified to give. I kept it all to myself, for the most part, and did what I was there to do - document this brave momma's journey. And it was BEAUTIFUL!
This feeling that I need to be better prepared for these types of situations has been nagging me to no end for a month now. Today I finally decided that I should listen to the nagging feeling and learn to nurture and support a laboring mommy.
I'm excited and little freaked out, to be honest. But definitely more excited than freaked out. I can't wait to learn!