Frequently Asked Questions

Birth Work FAQs

by Hayley Yourkowski

Doula & Birth Photographer

Q: I'm concerned about unflattering/graphic images, is birth photography still for me?

Yes! I work specifically with each client to determine their preferences prior to the labour. This is what our prenatal meetings are for. I will only capture and deliver images that you request. I work around YOUR comfort level - some mothers want to see full crowning images, others request complete privacy and discretion. Some want lots of placenta images, some can't handle the sight of blood.  Either way, I'm totally confident we can create a beautiful one-of-a-kind album telling your unique birth story. 

 Q: Will my pictures end up all over the internet? 

 Another misconception... No. We only share what you are comfortable sharing. We LOVE seeing birth photos 'out there' in the spirit of normalizing and celebrating childbirth! Some clients agree and are happy to have their images shared. Other clients desire total privacy above all - and we honour that too. These empowering photos are for you more than anything else. (We have images that have never been shared with anyone other than the client - and that's your prerogative!) 

Q: Do you offer more than just Birth Photography? 

Yes! In addition to being a doula/birth photographer, I LOVE doing documentary family, or portrait sessions, especially  maternity, and newborn! I value capturing authentic connection in candid, real life moments. I had the opportunity to second shoot at a wedding in 2019 and I'm interested in shooting a wedding in 2020 - let's chat! 

 Q: I don't think my partner would be supportive - do Dads like having a Photographer? 

 The feedback from birth partners we've worked with has been overwhelmingly positive! By having a professional photographer available, Dad can focus 100% on supporting the mother and experiencing the moment - without having to hold up a camera or iPhone! Bonus - he gets to be documenting as your heroic pillar of support during this life changing event! And heroism looks good on him. 

 Q: Is Birth Photography actually worth the cost? 

Couples spend thousands of dollars (tens of thousands!) on wedding photography - the birth of your child is no less important. A wedding is booked on the calendar for a year in advance -  but no one can predict when a birth will happen! Your birth photographer works on call 24/7 for four weeks surrounding your due date. This requires an enormous  time commitment. We carry high quality professional gear, specialized for the low lighting and close quarters of the birth space. The result is a gallery of photos that will be cherished for a lifetime and beyond. Again, the response from birth photography clients is overwhelmingly positive: the investment you make in your Birth Story photos is well, well worth it. 

 Q: Won't it be strange to have a stranger in the room when I'm having a baby? 

 Everyone is a stranger before they become a friend! We meet every client and their family 1-2 times before the birth to begin building that trust and relationship. As soon as you hire us, we become an important part of your birth team! Your Partner, Doctors, Nurses, Midwives, Doulas, friends... your team should be made up of pros who you trust, who are committed to helping you achieve your optimum birth experience. As Doula or Photographer, our experience and training gives us the ability to work with and around your team as a pillar of confidence and support. We believe in you and are here to help you achieve your best birth experience possible! 

 Q: Can’t my husband or Mom take pictures for me? 

 Of course they could, but then they wouldn’t be in the photos! Part of capturing this once in a lifetime event involves documenting your loved ones as they become a dad, aunty or grandmother for the first time (or all over again). There is also a big difference between savouring the moment and snapping photos. Your family deserves to witness this event without the stress, distraction, or expectation of having to capture it.

Q: What is a Doula?

A Doula is a professionally trained birth support worker who is educated and experienced in childbirth, hired to serve a couple through pregnancy, birth and the immediate postpartum period. We are committed to serving, educating, comforting, protecting, and nourishing the pregnant and birthing woman. The word doula is roughly translated to "woman's slave".
We attend all manner of pregnancy/birthing scenarios including medicated or unmedicated, hospital or at home,, vaginal or cesarean. We provide evidence based research, emotional support, and hands-on assistance including comfort measures, pain coping techniques, guided relaxation breathing, birth positioning tips, or practical errands. One of the Doula's most important roles is to empower parents make informed decisions and to advocate for themselves.
Doulas work to build a personal relationship with the family and provide them with unbiased, and non-judgemental support. This includes and text/phone support throughout pregnancy, and continuous personalized support during labour.  A doula will support you in achieving your ideal birth, whatever that looks like. Our main goal is to help you feel empowered, fully supported, confident, and satisfied with your personal journey and birth experience.

Q: Can you be a Doula and Birth Photographer at the same time?

In a word - yes. If you think about Pregnancy and Birth as an enormous iceberg, the actual time of delivery in the very tip. Doula support and prenatal education occur extensively in the months and weeks leading up to your delivery. Birth planning, pain management techniques, fetal positioning, and more!  Acting as both your Doula and Photographer is birth a privilege and a balancing act! This works best when I know what your expectations are ahead of time. We will have plenty of time to discuss how I can best meet all your needs as a birth attendant and photographer. Squeezing your hand or stepping back and squeezing the shutter button while you and your partner have an intimate moment. This looks totally different for each client; know that I am committed to serve YOU in whichever way necessary, depending on the flow of your labour and delivery.

Q: Is a Doula the same thing as a midwife? Why have both? 

 A doula is not the same as a midwife. A midwife if a medical healthcare professional typically acting as a primary care provider for a low-risk pregnant woman. Midwives conduct clinical procedures such as blood pressure readings, monitoring fetal heart tones, and internal exams. They order tests such as blood work and ultrasounds. A midwife will attend a birth and oversee the physical health of both mother and baby. Midwifery care is typically client centred care with an emphasis on respecting families choices. While midwives care about mothers' overall wellbeing including mental and emotional health, they have a very important role during a birth and their primary focus is the physical health of mother and baby. This is why it is beneficial to have a doula work alongside your midwife. Doulas can provide the personal and uninterrupted support a mother needs so that the midwife can focus on her primary job. 

Q:  What DOESN'T a doula do? •

Doulas do not perform clinical tests or medical exams that a doctor or midwife might do.   • Doulas do not speak on your behalf to your care provider or make decisions for you. They help you to find your own voice and support you in advocating for yourself to you care provider.  • Doulas do not take the place of your spouse/partner/significant other, but work as a team and help you partner to support you and be involved to the extent that they feel comfortable.     Doulas do not give medical advice or diagnose conditions     Doulas do not catch your baby What are the benefits of having a doula? Statistically speaking, evidence* has shown that in births with Doula support, there is a: • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin (used to artificially stimulate or strengthen contractions) • 28% decrease in the risk of Cesarean • 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth • 9% decrease in the use of medications for pain relief • 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience (*Cochrane Review) 

 Q: Why do I need a doula if my partner will support me? 

 It is sometimes said that a doula knows birth your partner knows you. Together we have the makings of a perfect team to support you during labour. Labours can sometimes be long and exhausting and your partner cannot support you to the best of their ability if they cannot rest or eat. Partners often have their own emotional journey they are going through during birth of their child. Hiring a doula ensures you are never left alone. Doulas offer many practical supportive options and can give your partner ideas for how to assist you and be involved to whatever extent they are comfortable with. Most partners often have limited knowledge about birth, medical procedures, and hospital practice. We can offer informational support so that you can make educated decisions as a couple.   

Q: Why should I hire a doula if I know I want an epidural or other drugs for pain relief? 
 Doulas are not just valuable to women planning natural or unmedicated births. They have an important role to play in supporting any birth, no matter the level of intervention involved; often especially if there are interventions! Drugs may help to minimize pain at different stages in labour, but they may not minimize anxiety, fear, confusion and other emotional and psychological upset a birthing mother may experience. A woman planning an epidural may still need support to physically cope until she can receive it and it is not uncommon for epidurals to only provide partial pain relief. Receiving an epidural or other drugs for pain relief creates a higher likelihood of further interventions. Doulas provide tools to help prevent potential complications. An example would be facilitating body position changes for the mother in order to allow baby to progress down efficiently. A doula will be a valuable informational resource and help with advocacy, will continue to focus on mom while other's care may have shifted to the machines she is hooked up to, and your doula will provide focused, immediate postpartum and breastfeeding support that is often lacking in a hospital setting. 

Q:  Won't my labour and delivery nurse do the same thing as a doula? 

 Your labour and delivery nurse cares about supporting you during your labour, but their support differs in many ways from what a doula can provide. Nurses are sometimes caring for multiple women at the same time and it is impossible for them to give you their continuous and undivided attention. They have many responsibilities and divided priorities, documentation to complete, and machines to manage. Nursing shifts change and you may not have the same nurse throughout the duration of your labour; meeting new strangers in the midst of labour can be distracting and unsettling. Your doula has already spent the time getting to know you and your partner, has become well acquainted with your personal concerns and preferences, and has a top priority of attending to your emotional needs throughout your labour and immediate postpartum period. As your doula, my responsibility is to you alone.

Q: What if I am having a cesarean birth? 

 There are many reasons that a woman might end up giving birth by cesarean. Sometimes it is a predetermined choice, and sometimes the decision is made last minute. Very often it was not the original desire and the decision comes with emotional weight for the parents. A doula can be a valuable informational, practical, and emotional support during this time. You doula will still offer you continuous support, wherever your birthing journey takes you. There are still many personal decisions you can make surrounding a cesarean birth and it is helpful to be informed about your options before hand. There are also extra considerations after a cesarean birth regarding recovery. A doula can support you during this difficult recovery period and help you to cope with unexpected challenges. 

Q: Why are doula services priced the way they are?

People are often unfamiliar with the extent of services a doula provides. Aside from the services you receive upfront, doulas put in a substantial amount of effort in behind the scenes to provide you with custom care, often for little pay in comparison. This includes extensive research and training, continuing education, supplies purchased, membership fees, insurance, commuting and parking costs, childcare, and many other unseen expenses. Doulas are passionate about the people they serve and are often willing to go above and beyond with their personal time. The service you are investing in includes continuous, on-call support from your doula at all hours of the day and night, often at the expense of their personal family and social lives. Most doulas choose this work primarily because they are passionate about helping women and families, not for the income. 

Q: What if I can't afford a doula?

It is our desire that all women have an opportunity for quality birth support. At the same time, quality services require significant time, effort, training, certifications, and resources. We are happy to talk about payment options if finances are an issue for you. Please contact us if you have any concerns.