my path to being a doula (and mom)


I often get asked why I became a birth doula. So I sat down to give a brief summary--but like most journeys, it ended up not being so brief ;-)

I first heard about doulas in a graduate sociology class on the family. I was introduced to many topics I didn't know that I would care about, like Midwives and breastfeeding. At that point in my life I did not plan on ever having children--I was 24 and was saving money to travel the world as a photographer. The dream job I wrote about for a college class was as a Vanity Fair photographer...

But the feminist in me was very interested in what I was learning with regards to how women were being treated by American obstetrics. I learned that cesarean sections were not worry free ways to bypass an inconvenience. I learned that formula is not actually equal to breastmilk. I learned that Midwives were a viable alternative for women experiencing a "normal" pregnancy--and even more important, that pregnancy and birth are normal! I learned that a birth doula is an advocate and non-judgemental guide for families navigating their journey through birth and into parenthood.

Toward the end of the semester I also learned that I was pregnant with my first son.

The following winter I gave birth to my son in an Atlanta hospital, although I did not labor in that hospital. I was terrified of the system that I now knew gave me a 1 in 3 chance of having a cesarean birth. So I labored at home, alone. I was reading a really good book, and when my water broke with contractions coming back to back, I decided it was time to go.

When I arrived at the hospital ready to push I was told I had to wait for the doctor, who did eventually arrive in time to catch and then hand me my perfect baby boy. There are no words that adequately describe what I was feeling holding my son for the first time, but I'll try: awe...love...power.

Surprise. Birth was fun! I've heard people compare it to a runner's marathon high, or a crazy drug trip. Although the similarities abound, it is so much more. I did it. My body grew a baby and birthed a baby. I realized then that I am fierce, despite a system with odds stacked against me. I could not have asked for a better stepping off point for my motherhood journey.

Fast forward a few years, and countless conversations that went something like this:

friend: "so what was his birth like?"

me: "it was soooooo cool!"

friend: "uh huh."

me: "no, really. It was awesome. Hard, but awesome..."

friend: disbelieving look

I looked into how to become a doula, and decided to get my birth doula certification with DONA.

I felt like I had beat the system-and I knew that I could help other mothers feel good about their birth experience, whatever that meant to them. Sometimes it looks nothing like my experience. Not everyone wants an unmedicated birth, and I get that. Sometimes medication is the best choice, and sometimes cesareans are neccesary.

But the dissapointment that I often hear from moms (and partners) about their birth should not be as common as it is. SO that is why I am a doula. For over five years I have worked to help moms and partners in Atlanta feel good about their birth experience. Because no matter what happens during a birth, a woman can still feel informed and empowered.

“The whole point of woman-centered birth is the knowledge that a woman is the birth power source. She may need, and deserve, help, but in essence, she always had, currently has, and will have the power.” ~Heather McCue

My mom, me and che bird. 2005.

{I love this photo that a friend took after my son arrived. But oh how I wish I had hired a birth photographer! I offer birth photography to all of my doula clients, and offer it separately as well}

You can see more birth photography here

#love #doula #atlantabirthphotographer #parenthood #family #birth #doulaphotographer #atlantanewbornphotographer #birthphotography #atlantadoula #mamalove #birthphotographer #mystory

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 chanda Williams | maternity, newborn + family | photography + FILMS in atlanta

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