A birth keeper is sort of a self-defined phrase, for now.
To me, a birth keeper is the combination of the doula and birth photographer roles...
First of all, What the heck is a doula?
You may have mentioned hiring a doula to support you at your birth and been asked "who's 'adoula' and why is she invited?!" Or maybe just blank stares as they try to figure out what a doula is.
In the US doulas have been formally around since the '70s-'80s, they've only been commonplace in the last 10-15 years or so. Here on the shore, I feel like it's still not commonplace, despite the hard-working and beautiful birth workers that are fighting so hard to make birth support common and available for all.
In my first draft, I got real deep and wordy on where doulas came from, how they were made somewhat mainstream in the US, and what it means to be a certified doula.... But you don't care about that right now, you just want to know (or maybe tell your partner, mom, neighbor, whoever) what a birth keeper/doula is and what they do! So let's jump into it!
A "certified" doula is a person (usually female but there are male doulas) who have studied the physiology of birth, understand the rights of a birthing person, and knows comfort measures and labor/pushing positions that will be helpful to a mom and her baby to be born in the most efficient, preferably less painful way!
The "who" pretty much answered the "what" as well but in the simplest of terms the role of the doula is support. Not just for the mother but the whole birth team- dad needs to remember to drink water and breathe too! Support can look very different from birth to birth which is why most doulas include a consultation and at least one prenatal visit before you give birth to figure out how to best support your family!
There is usually a level of informational support, not to give our opinion but to allow for truly informed consent and evidence-based care. And advocacy, again this looks different for every situation.
The best part of being a doula is seeing the outcomes! Satisfaction- despite the actual events or even potential trauma that occurs during the birth- is so much higher when a mom has a doula/support. Here are some statistics from Evidence based Birth on the evidence on doulas and the relative risk reductions
25% decrease in risk of Cesarean
8% increase in the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth
10% decrease in the use of medications for pain relief
Shorter labors by about 41 minutes
38% decrease in the risk of low APGAR score
31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
(click the link above to find out how you can get the statistics more absolute for your circumstances!)
So you get why you need to have a doula but why birth photography?
There's one thing I feel like I need to get out of the way - you can have an entire birth story gallery and NOT see one single vagina if you don't want to! It is not 150 images of how a baby comes out of you- we all know where babies come from!
So what is birth photography? Let me show you...
it's the details
it's the moments of support
it's seeing reactions
It's so much more than these moments too! The baby's first moments and details, the first time grandma sees him/her, the first time your other children meet the baby.
Birth photography is quality, professional storytelling of one of the most impactful moments of your and your family's life!
Combining these two ways of supporting you through your birth has been such a beautiful gift and an honor, the term birth keeper seems to capture perfectly my role on your birth team.
To support you, empower you, and document the moments along the way so you can keep your birth.
"The moment a child is born, a mother is born also"