I have been photographing expecting moms and newborns for years, and I absolutely love it! You might think I would have gotten into birth photography, but I’ve actually never photographed anyone inside a hospital. So I was excited to have the opportunity recently to photograph my friend, Charity Jeffs, as she supported a mom through labor. Charity is a doula here in Peoria, Illinois.
What is a Doula?
A doula is a trained and experienced professional who offers continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mom before, during, and after childbirth. Unlike medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, doulas do not provide medical care but focus on providing compassionate and personalized support.
Charity has over seven years of experience working as a doula. She is present through the whole process. She says the length of time she is at the hospital with a mom depends entirely on how long the labor lasts, and has been anywhere between 3 and 42 hours! I think it’s amazing that these moms have an expert by their side during the life-changing events of giving birth.
I have three kids, but my birth stories are perhaps a bit unusual. My twin girls were born via C-section at 35 weeks just an hour after I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. My son was born on his due date about 2 and a half years later. I was able to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean) with him, but they needed to use the vacuum to help him out. Also, I got an epidural with him, but it didn’t work. As I watched Charity support this mom through her labor, I thought about how awesome it would have been to have had a doula at both of my births!
Charity supports her clients in advocating for themselves and helps guide them through communication with the medical team. She’s also trained in pain relief techniques. From massage and breathing exercises to guiding partners on how to provide effective support, doulas bring a wealth of knowledge on coping mechanisms that can enhance the birthing experience.
If you are in the Peoria area, and are interested in working with a doula, I highly recommend Charity Jeffs! Not only is she a skilled and effective doula, but she is also kind and compassionate. She would be an excellent person to have on your team while you bring a sweet new baby into this world. You can find out more here: cjdoula.com