Exposing Birth: Doula (un)school

Exposing Birth: Doula [Un]School

I firmly believe that if you are a birth photographer you should also be a doula. 

I know I know, that is a bold statement. But hear me out. Even as a photographer, you are already in a roundabout way providing a doula service already. 

1

You could be this family’s only form of continuity of care.
So despite you not doing any ‘doula’ prep work/ birth hip squeezes that in itself IS the epitome of what doula is. Your client has formed a connection with you over the course of their pregnancy and whether you realise it or not, you bring a sense of safety into their space by simply being a constant in their antenatal and birth care. Period.

2

Typically birth photographers are driven to begin documenting births because of an experience they had during their own births- be it regret of NOT having photos taken or the profound impact HAVING their birth photographed had on their mental health or postpartum experience. The role of a doula is to emotionally support your client. By simply documenting their birth you ARE giving them emotional support particularly in the postpartum period. Because now they get a hit of oxytocin every single time they look at their images helping them to extend the high of their birth. 

3

You might be the only person they feel safe to debrief with ESPECIALLY if you are offering a postpartum / newborn session in the postpartum period. What you may deem as small talk ‘reminiscing’ their birth story a short few days/weeks ago, is actually relief to their soul, providing possibly even more safety to express themselves- pending how deep your rapport runs. 

The parallel between birth photographer and doula are strikingly similar. Also, lets not forget how many wavering hands we hand water bottles too whilst the other hand covers their faces as they blindly reach for water during or in between contractions. How many times have you reminded the partner to eat and reassure him that you can sit with the birthing person while they refuel? Every time you have said “but you ARE DOING IT!” to a transitioning birthing person in between shots. 

You see, doula work is what it means to be human. The only difference is I am going to teach you how to hone in your human. I am going to teach you how to communicate effectively, how to listen between the lines, and how to serve more powerfully by serving yourself first. The only way to inspire others to be empowered is to empower yourself. 

There are a couple of ways people find themselves on the journey to becoming a doula.

Birth workers who are already in this space; birth photographers, childbirth educators, herbalists, chiropractors, hypnobirthing educators, midwives, and even some doctors (gp’s, nurses, and OB’s when they find they can’t serve birthing people powerfully withing the system they are coerced to work in.) They want to add a layer of education to their tooldbelt to better serve and understand birthing people even if they don’t plan on practicing as a doula. Because lets face it, having a good spoonful of humanity is ALWAYS a good idea no matter WHAT line of work you are in. 

 

Parents who go through birth or have a family or friend who go through birth and were asked to be present at their birth or were inspired by their own birth or doula that want to dip their toes into the birth world. They likely start off as advocates for friends and family, letting them know they have the right to decline or choose a different option even if the option wasn’t presented to them. 

I’ll tell you the exact moment I knew I wanted to be a doula. 

I was attending my 50ish birth and was in my second year of photographing births. I was still taking the fly on the wall approach to documenting births. I thought that I should not be seen or heard. I frequently backed myself into a corner and never spoke. Ever. I was too afraid to even great the family when entering the birth space. I was too afraid to get too close the parents during labour. I made sure not to wear any perfumes or oils as to not bring attention to myself. Then, one day, I attended a birth that changed my life, really. Not just how I document births but how I serve my clients. 

I am going to get graphic for a moment here, because I think this is important work we do. If birth trauma and/or obstetric violence is a trigger, then you should probably click off this page. This training is not right for you. This story will be in italics so you can easily skip past the italics and continue reading the rest of the page. 

There is something about hearing the screams of a woman receiving an unconsented episiotomy without local. Hearing a birthing person say “What the fuck just happened after birth in lieu of “OMG I did it!” changes you. It changes and rearranges every single fucking cell in your being. I knew from that moment forward that by being a fly on the wall, I was doing a disservice to my clients. I knew that my clients were having shittier birth experience than they needed to have because you don’t know what you don’t know. I knew that was the moment I wanted to become a doula.”

And so I did. But before I get to that part, I started asking all of my clients during our in person meetings if they would give me their birth plans so I could

1. Get their shot list to create a custom story for them and

2. Because I wanted to know when someone was doing something that wasn’t on that list so I could notify the birthing family. 

The next words out of my mouth after I asked for the birth plan was “If I see something going on fishy that isn’t on this list, would you life for me to tell you?”
So many of my initial clients were confused. They would also say, “Ummm, sure, but could you give an example? I don’t understand, why would someone do what they weren’t supposed to?” 

THIS is where the trauma comes in- BUT that is a conversation for another day and an entire module. So I would explain to them if I were to see someone reaching for scissors yet they asked for delayed cord clamping, would they life for me to notify them There is NOTHING worse on this planet than thinking you got what you asked for only to get the images back and realise you had exactly 3.2 seconds of ‘delayed’ cord clamping see that big plump purple and blue cord being cut. EVERY SINGLE CLIENT I asked was SO grateful to have someone on their side during birth. They ALL said YES PLEASE tell me! They were all so oblivious and would always say they had no idea that could even happen! 

Thus, my journey for advocacy was born. I didn’t even consider this as a doula service. I considered this to be common courtesy on my part (remember doula= humanity). Every single parent deserved this. I felt deeply that it was my job as a birth photographer to give them exactly what they wanted. Essentially hundreds of my clients received a sort of two-fer bonus when they booked me. But then I started my ‘official’ doula journey. And let’s just say I wasn’t too enthused. Read on. 

When I was pregnant with our third baby I signed up for a program to become a certified doula. The word certified made me feel legit after I felt so helpless during that birth. Like I was something.  Since I didn’t finish university, it was the closest and most affordable thing I could do to make me feel like I had a profession.

Lacey Barratt, Birth Photographer AND Certified Doula. 
It sounded catchy
Flashy
Legit

I was digging it.
The only problem was, about a quarter of the way through, I was bored out of my brains. I was so bored that I never finished the course. After attending around 50 births already as a birth photographer, I knew the exhilaration of birth and the deep support that went with it. I didn’t feel that from that doula training though. And I was disappointed.
Like, really fucking disappointed.
I poked around at a few other doula training programs after that, but none of them really grabbed me. It was more of that super structured, super masculine energetic feel. It was almost too legit for me.
You wanna know what turned me off the most though?
I was pregnant,
planning a free birth,
working with my own doula,
and going through a doula training program where they told me that as a doula I shouldn’t support birthing people who free birthed. 
Say fucking what!? 
I felt like I didn’t belong in my own industry. Shunned before I was even accepted. How can that happen? I thought being a doula was about providing birthing people with options, support, and information for them to make an informed decision? How could this go so wrong? 
I never finished my studies and I was angry because I felt like I couldn’t be a doula based on my beliefs (supporting free birth) and the fact I never finished studying to become a doula. But sometime later, I realised that the world of doula was unregulated. Literally anyone could call themselves a doula. So, I did what felt like a super naughty and borderline manipulative thing. 

I called myself a doula. 

I knew that the role of doula didn’t have to be like the training I was in. But I was so turned off, that I never ever signed up for another doula training. Like, EVER. I just decided one day that I wanted to support birthing people. And just like that, I was a doula. But where did I fit into the community? I don’t think I did. 

There are some doulas who know their shit like stats, and links, and all the spinning babies, and the best lunges to do at just the right time during a contraction. This is SUPER helpful. I know a bunch of stuff, but not NEARLY as much as what others do. Then, there are some who have a natural remedy for EVERYTHING. I have a few, but I’m no naturopath.

I feel like there are inbetweeners. 

Ya know, like, sure I know some stats and ya, I can be woo, but I didn’t feel like I truly fit into the doula world because I started out as a birth photographer. I felt less than because I didn’t have a link to every-single-ailment on the planet for pregnancy and birth/postpartum related issues. Or on the flip side, I didn’t have an oil or herb for every-single-ailment for pregnancy and birth/postpartum related issues. So, I just let my clients know I was a doula. To everyone else in the birth world, they didn’t even know I practiced as a doula. Actually, I bet my last dollar that when you saw I was releasing a doula course you thought “What the fuck Lace? You’re a doula but you don’t ACTUALLY doula!?”

I do. I doula a lot.

In fact, I doula most all of my clients. This has enabled me to exponentially increase my average sale by diversifying my offerings. I’m going to teach you how to do that too. 

 

Sometimes you try to find the things you like but sometimes it’s easier to find the things you *don’t* like.
This is exactly what I did with doula training. I began to pick out everything I DIDN’T like in order to know exactly what I DID want in my own training.

Now, you may be asking, is this a certifying experience? 

The short answer, NO.

The long answer? Grab a coffee (or wine, I won’t judge).
 When I initially released this program, I said it was a certification program against my better judgement. When I told my friend about my newest course her first question was, “Lace, you don’t believe in certification, why are you certifying?” 
My response was “We all know certification is bullshit and not worth the paper it’s printed on, if people want to be certified, I’ll certify them if it’s important to them to feel legitimate.” I kept trying to tell her that no one would buy the course if it wasn’t a certifying program. I “had” to do it that way. 
She pressed me to not certify if I didn’t think it was valuable. But I wasn’t hearing her. I kept saying it didn’t matter,  if it made people feel good, I wanted to support that. She then went on to explain how much *she* valued her doula certification and how upset she would be if she was certified by someone who didn’t value it the same way as her. 
Now she had my attention. 
I knew it was time to break the mould. From that point forward, I understood this wasn’t a classic, ‘sell them what they want, give them what they need’ marketing tactic. This was serious. 
I knew I needed to change the meaning of what certified meant instead of continuing to perpetuate legitimacy via a certification. 

We know the statistics.
We know how invaluable doulas are.
We know the etymology of the word doula.

That’s all basic stock standard knowledge (if you’ve been in the birth world for a while.)

If you didn’t know, google it. I’m not taking your money to teach your stuff you can find for free on the internet.

But I want to be very clear about one thing.

I’m not here to teach you stock standard bullshit statistics or etymology of words…

Welcome to Exposing Birth: Doula [Un]School

This is for anyone who has ever felt: 

Misplaced

Misunderstood

Misconstrued

Confused

and all around discombobulated. 

Just as I began to unschool my children during the Victorian Covid-19 lock down, I too, think it’s time to unschool doulas. 

 

When I created Exposing Birth Photography I always knew I wanted to have a sister doula course. It just wasn’t the right time. As I was recording Exposing Birth Photography, I kept adding new videos and new modules…so much so that my team kept begging me to stop adding more content. I had so much to say, so much to share, so much to dispel and so much to set straight. Finally, it is time to release our sister course to Exposing Birth Photography. 

Doula [Un] School is also a 10 month experience, but what makes this unschooling is each month we will get on a group call together where I can spend time with you to unschool everything you’ve ever learned about birth, doula, statistics, choice, autonomy, or whatever comes up. Not only do you have access to all course content, but you also have access to me directly, once a month for 10 months. 

I want you to know that in an unregulated industry a certification is only worth the value and meaning you give it. If certification is something that you heavily value, then I would recommend you look at other doula training that also aligns with that value. For me, a certification was only giving me a false confidence that only I could give myself. I was never going to get what I needed from a certificate. I was only receiving the meaning I gave it. 

In January of 2021, our very first cohort of the live program Doula [Un]School will begin.

What makes the unschooling experience so incredible is because it is taught live, we unofficially begin when you register. On the first of every month, we will have an unschooling call as a bonus to say thank you for registering early.

This is thousands of dollars in coaching calls with me at no extra cost except knowing exactly what you want and giving yourself permission to do it. How rewarding is that? 

I want you to know what we will be covering: 
The Exposing Birth: Doula [Un]School will consist of 10 modules.

During our Doula Pillars, we will discuss the following topics-

Beliefs
Communication
Safety
Support
Perspective
Values
Transcendence
Emotions
Birth plans/options
Inclusivity/loss
Physiology of birth/breastfeeding etc.
Some modules may be combined or changed, but for the most part, this is what we will be discussing. I’ll also be breaking down my own doula processes that I take my own private clients on.
We will be learning incredible processes and tools to help your clients cope, transform, and transmute pain, trauma and a plethora of other things they may come up against in their birthing journeys. 

 

We will learn very stock standard information on positioning, breastfeeding, postpartum care and ceremonies, but also strategies and mindset shifts you can teach them to enable them to continue to support themselves long after your time together is finished. As much as we hate that very last meeting as a doula, you’ll have all the knowledge to teach them to continue to support themselves.

And that is a powerful way to doula. 

For a limited time there is a 50% off bonus at check out for Exposing Birth Photography to celebrate the launch. Just check the tick box to add on our sister course for half price. Now that’s a steal

Woo-ing your way through doula work will only get you so far. But also, being so masculine that there is no room for flow, also won’t work.

This is where Doula [Un]Schooling comes in. 

It isn’t enough to say ‘birth where you feel safe.’ People choose different births because they have different values.

This is where we as a doula come through. It is our job to be able to create processes and strategies for our clients to be able to identify what they value most in their birthing experience to be able to achieve an ideal outcome.

WOOING YOUR WAY THROUGH BIRTH WILL ONLY GET YOU SO FAR.

Throughout this course, we will be going through they way people think, why they think that way, and how we can help them change their thinking (if appropriate) or transmute experiences to play to their power. 

As a doula, by being able to use language and acute listening skills, you’ll be able to pinpoint who will work well with you on a business level and who may be better suited for another doula. So now, we are doubling up on our skill to use them for our clients as well as ourselves. Doula work is universal. It can be applied to every area and aspect of life.

My job as your teacher is to show you how we can universally apply our birth skills not only to our clients but ourselves as well.

Making us some of the most self-empowered people on the planet. 

 

Join Doula [Un]School today.

This course is for those who are already immersed in the birth space and have basic knowledge of birth; physiology, cascade of intervention, and surgical birth. Although, if you know very little about birth, you will still leave this course feeling confident to support your doula clients upon completion. I invite you no matter what stage you are in your birth worker journey to join us during the next 10 months and build your doula business on a solid foundation. 

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