You may have heard of a doula, and you’ve definitely heard of a photographer, so what the heck is a doula-tog? I’m going to lay out everything you need to know about doula-togs, and why we are an essential part of the birth team.
What is a doulatog?
A doulatog is a combination of a doula and a photographer. A doula helps alleviate the fear and anxiety associated with birth, and helps prepare the expecting person not only for birth but for parenthood as well. They have a wealth of knowledge and are an amazing connection to services in the community such as lactation and sleep consultants. Doulas support their clients physically and emotionally during labour, and also offer postpartum services.
To tie it back in, a doulatog performs the duties of a doula and captures precious images that make up the birth story. They are an essential part of the birth team because they develop close connections with their clients and treat the privilege of being welcomed into the sacred birth space with respect and care.
What if I don’t want pictures of “that” captured?
You mean, crowning pictures? Pictures of your vagina? There’s no need to be embarrassed to ask me questions about your body. When you book my services, we will have a discussion about what moments are important to you for me to capture, and what moments you would rather not have captured. My goal as your photographer is to capture the “feel” of the moment, the emotion, the connection between the birthing person and their partner and baby – if you don’t want pictures of your vagina anywhere on my camera, I’m completely okay with that! Be assured, this is something we discuss way in advance of birth day.
Does every client have to have photos taken?
I’ve never met anyone that was disappointed to receive photos of their birth, so the short answer is yes. And here is why.
Photos have magical powers: we can be transported back to a moment in time that would otherwise be unreachable; they stimulate our sense of sight, touch, sound, and yes, even smell, of a moment that has long since passed. A birth is like any other big event in your life – like a wedding! Check out this cute little infographic I made showing the similarities between a wedding and a birth:
As a photographer, I believe straight to the center of my core that it is always worth investing in a photographer – not just for life’s major events, but for the every day moments too. They all matter. I guarantee you will not regret having some photos from the day.
How can a doulatog provide hands on support during labour and take pictures?
Great question, I’m glad you asked. It comes back to that very important conversation we have long before the day of birth. The conversation about what is the most important to the client. This is when we would discuss what the birthing person would need the most support with. Think of it like a sliding scale:
Most people end up in the middle, where they have a supportive partner or family in the birth room that the photographer can switch out providing physical support with. Some clients don’t have such a support system and rely heavily on the doula, and some need a doula mostly for prenatal or postpartum support and tend to book the photography only package. Everything is customizable to what the birthing person needs.
Is a doulatog worth it if I get an epidural?
Absolutely! Getting an epidural is an important part of the birth story, and although the client may not need as much physical support once the catheter is placed, this would be a good opportunity for the doulatog to capture details around the room such as the time on the clock, the care provider charting, the birthing person gaining their strength, the support person resting, the hospital room number, etc. A doula or doulatog’s presence isn’t exclusively for the times of pain during labour: they have become a trusted member of the birth team, a friend, a confidante, so they can effortlessly reflect the energy of the room and help you stay connected to your birth experience. A doulatog will support your choices of how you plan to labour, birth, and parent your baby.
When should I hire a doulatog?
The sooner the better, but between 28-32 weeks or earlier is ideal. Included with your doulatog package are two prenatal visits and two postpartum visits – prenatal visits typically happen at 30 weeks and 36 weeks. This gives the doulatog enough time to get to know you before the birth, and connect you with any services you may need during pregnancy such as prenatal massage, chiropractic care, and acupuncture.
Still not convinced you need a doulatog? Check out this blog post to read more about why you need a birth photographer at your birth.