Birth Photography

Doula Advice - The Right Questions

So, you just had a baby...

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“CONGRATULATIONS! How was your birth? What happened?”

These are all too often the first questions we are asked after giving birth. Questions about details and logistics. Sometimes probing to see if the experience we prepared for actually happened, usually fueled by curiosity and our tendency to compare “battle stories”.

While the events of our deliveries matter, perhaps the more appropriate question, the more helpful one, would be, “how did your birth make you feel?”.

Sometimes everything goes right on paper. Every box is checked, everything goes according to “plan”, but still, something didn’t sit quite right and colored your experience in a way that you didn’t expect.

Or maybe several things led you away from what you thought your plan was going to be. Interventions were necessary, maybe even more than a few, yet you felt even more empowered than you thought you would.

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Yes, the details of what happen matter, but what matters more is why they happened and how.

“How do you feel about your labor and delivery?”

“Was it some medical event that happened to you?”

“Was it a situation you felt you had control over?”

“Were you an active participant in making decisions about your care?”

“Did you have a voice?”

“Were you educated about interventions before they happened? And asked for your consent?”

“Were your questions/concerns/fears addressed with understanding and respect?”

“Were you given time to discuss your options and to think about what was best for your specific situation?”

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Recently, we had a client who delivered her baby via an unmedicated, vacuum-assisted, vaginal delivery. It was incredible watching her labor, she fell asleep after nearly every contraction, and even a few times between pushes. Her baby was stuck under her pubic bone and after pushing really well for an extended period of time, her OB suggested attempting a vacuum-assisted delivery. There was no rush, mama and baby were happy and vitals were great. So she took some time to discuss, first with her husband, then with us and then as a group including her doctor and nurses. They were educated on what to expect, informed of potential risks, and they were given time to ask questions in order to make the decision that was right for them. Together, they chose to try the vacuum and their daughter was born just a handful of pushes later.  


During one of our postpartum visits, she brought up the fact that a lot of her friends and family were “sorry” to hear she had to have a vacuum assisted delivery. They each assumed it was a disappointing outcome because it wasn’t part of her original plan.

They had all asked, “How was your birth? What happened?”, but failed to follow up to see how she felt about it. It hadn’t even occurred to her that her birth could be considered a bad experience until she had these conversations.

So many mamas have had deliveries that ended with c-sections or other interventions and are told over and over again, “at least you and your baby are safe.” I am one of them and it still drives me crazy! Just as I know hearing, “I’m so sorry” was both confusing and frustrating to Jessie. Yes, mama and baby are safe, that is the ultimate goal, but the road you take to that goal, the choices that are made, whether ones you played a role in or ones that were made for you, can be just as important.


We talk so much about how birth transforms us, in ways we expected but even more so in ways that we never could have imagined. New moms need to feel supported and to have their feelings and experiences validated. What we don’t need is lip service or placations about the events that shaped our experience.

The best thing we can do for our new mamas is to listen to their stories, validate the experience without projecting our own opinions, and never leave their house after a visit without offering to help with the laundry, pour another cup of delicious coffee, or change a diaper.

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Doula + Birth Photography |Regan| Atlanta, GA

Being asked to be a birth doula and birth photographer is an honor that we do not take lightly. Birth is un predictable and often difficult, and sometimes that difficulty starts even before labor begins. This family had to change their very well laid plans from a Birth Center birth to an induction—that took a very long time (as inductions often do!). Through it all they kept their sense of humor, and learned to be flexible in the hardest moments. It was quite beautiful to witness!

She stood in the wind, and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails
— Elizabeth Edwards

Atlanta Doula and Birth Photographers

The Birth Story Collective is a group of three Women, each committed to supporting and documenting life stories. We offer birth doula services, birth photography, and Fresh48 sessions to Atlanta and Decatur families.

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We do our best to tell the story of our client’s births in a way that is both beautiful and honest. We know what an incredible privilege and responsibility it is to be invited into their lives to document one of the most anticipated moments of their lives. So, when we start thinking about sharing their very personal images with the world, great care is taken with the words we chose to accompany them.

There are times when our own words just can’t do justice to what the family was going through and feeling and so we turn to them. The following is from Michelle, one of the strongest mamas we have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

“I've been thinking a lot recently about how to make this post, or rather to make it at all. After getting Sophia's birth story video yesterday, I decided to move forward. All of us encounter ups and downs in life. We celebrate the exciting and happy things that come our way and mourn our tragedies and losses. Sometimes we share those with others, sometimes we keep them privately to ourselves.

As many of you know, Zach and I, we had a pretty heavy loss last year. Half way through our pregnancy, we lost a baby girl. We had already shared this pregnancy publicly, which resulted in a publicly shared loss. To be honest, it was a blessing. Communicating individually to people who I didn't know well and asked me how the baby was, became much more difficult. To add in those that asked when I was due when I looked very pregnant but carried no child, was hard as well.

We thank God every day that we are fortunate and blessed with now not one baby boy (well big boy if you ask him) but a baby girl as well. Admittedly, what I didn't expect was the profound mix of emotions upon Sophia's birth. I was so excited and in love and yet equally struck again with grief over the loss of a baby girl that was due the same time as this one a year before. By no planning on our part, their due dates were days apart (although Sophia decided to come a month early).

Early in the pregnancy, I talked to Zach about documenting Sophia's birth as I wanted to remember her coming into the world forever. We wanted to share this with you to come full circle in our journey. We are so grateful to our friends, family, doctors, and nurses who have supported us along the way.” - Michelle

Here is the birth story of the beautiful Sophia James.

Birth Photography + Videography | Vance | Atlanta

This birth story unfolded a little differently than this family expected for their their child. Labor unfolded so rapidly they were unable to get to the hospital in time and dad caught their third child, a son, as mom delivered at home, on the kitchen floor! The beautiful teamwork of this pair, plus the incredible footage caught by their nest camera and the audio retrieved from the 911 call, make this birth story truly unique. Shout out to calm, collected neighbor Todd who came to watch the kids so they could leave for the hospital--and ended up assisting a childs birth! Also to the amazing first responders that were so kind and caring, and who stayed with the family until they were all tucked in up in their postpartum room at the hospital.

Special thanks to this family for allowing their story to be shared!


The Birth Story Collective | Atlanta, GA

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That seems a little ridiculous to write but it feels like we have been waiting forever and working so hard to get to this point where we can actually say it. So, one more time…


The Collective may be new to the Atlanta birth scene, but I can assure you, the women behind it are anything but. We have all be active birth workers and advocates for birthing rights for years now (21 total between us) as well as friends, colleagues and neighbors. (We all live within 2 streets of one another in Kirkwood and wouldn't have it any other way!) 

We met because of our passion for birth and came together, initially to back each other up for clients and ultimately to form this collective and build a supportive community for ourselves, our clients and our city. Our goal is to help guide and document your birth story honestly and beautifully and to show how powerful it can be when women feel supported during childbirth.

To continue on with our introduction, here's a little more about each of our kick ass members!


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Chanda was born and raised in Lake Claire. She has been photographing people since she was 5, and started her own photography business in 2009. She now lives in Kirkwood with her husband, Stephen, two sons, Che (11) and Isaiah (5), and their sweet pup, Stella Batman. 

"The birth of my first son was so incredible and empowering, and I felt like that was a huge secret that it could be that way. I had learned about Doulas in a college class, and years later I realized that I could help women have amazing birth experiences as a doula. At my first birth, I was in awe of the beauty of birth--the intimacy, vulnerability and strength, which also seemed like a secret that nobody was talking about. That's when I decided to photograph the births I was supporting." 


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Claire is originally from Buffalo, New York but has been in the south for a while now. She fell in love with photography in high school when she chose it as one of her elective classes. It was a high school love that stuck. She and her boyfriend, Bryan, live in Kirkwood with their fur babies, Linus the pup and Fatz the cat. 

"A couple of years in to my portrait photography business I came across work from a birth photographer who's images I thought were incredible. I was so intrigued I decided I needed to photograph a birth myself, and was quickly hooked up with a friend's sister who was expecting soon. That was pretty much it, I was hooked following that birth! My journey to supporting woman as a doula was a natural progression from there, especially as a nurturer by nature. Attending so many births as a photographer really informed me of the childbirth process and after some time, having seen the same situations over and over again in the delivery room I found that I could use my knowledge and experience to serve families in an additional way."



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Brittany was born in Houston, Texas and raised pretty much all over the place. She settled in Atlanta back in 2008 and hasn't looked back. She was a latecomer to photography, starting in 2011 when she received her first DSLR camera as a gift for Christmas. She too, lives in Kirkwood with her husband, Chris, their two sons, Coulter (3) and Lowry (18 months) and their 2 very big and hairy dogs, Fen and Odie.      

"As someone who typically shot anything and everything that came across my plate, not wanting to pass on any opportunity to grow as a photographer, it took the birth of my first son for me to realize what I truly wanted to focus on. The photos from his birth were so incredible, I was in awe of the entire process and I knew that I had to be a part of it in every way I could. So after photographing births for a few years and wanting to do more, I made the decision to begin working towards my doula certification, something I had been wanting to do ever since experiencing the incredible love and support of my own doulas during my births."

This Collective is something we have wanted for a long time, a place to come together, work together and help support women and families in Atlanta while they are building their families. We are just getting started and are so happy you've decided to join us on our journey. 

To stay in the loop on everything we are doing like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram @TheBirthStoryCollective