What Spending 2 Days With Dozens of Doulas Looks Like / by Tess Cagle

In July, I spent an amazing two days in the presence of doulas from across the country, as the event photographer for Doula Training International’s inaugural Born Into This conference.

The conference encouraged attendees to ponder what they’ve been born into—whether it be privilege, marginalization or somewhere in-between—and what they can do as doula’s to help others overcome oppression in the birthing room.

The conference was, in a lot of ways, eye-opening about the injustices and complexities of the birthing industry. As I photographed panels, I learned about the disproportionate rate of Black womxn who die giving birth and the disproportionate rate that Black babies die during their first 24 hours of life. I also learned about how hospitals often don’t communicate well with birthing mothers—and why having a doula there can help the situation. One panel discussed the amazing technological strides womxn are making in the industry and another talked about the perks of hand-squeezing your own breast milk. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

BIT_ByTessCagle_326.jpg

By the time the second day was over, I felt full of new knowledge and inspiration thanks to the lovely womxn I met. It’s a reminder to me of how LUCKY I am to have this unique job; these countless opportunities to meet new people and hear their stories, struggles, and accomplishments.

So, here’s what it’s like to spend 2 days with a boat-load of doulas.

There’s a whole lotta LAUGHTER.

Yup, the conference may have been tackling some dark issues at times, but these womxn sure did know how to laugh.

They bring the dopest food + sponsors.

OK, I gotta give a little credit to my girls Jane Hervey, Illyana Bocanegra, and Dahlia Dandashi for the dope experience, too. Jane runs GRPWRK, the organization that helped DTI plan their event and these three womxn made the whole thing run super smoothly. The sponsors were also so giving and the food tasted so, so good.

There were a few sightings of tears.

Sometimes panels got a little overwhelming, but sometimes the tears were ones of JOY. Check out this heartwarming photos of DTI founders, Tara and Gina, getting emotional when they attendees raised enough money to fund 3 doulas to go to the conference next year.

You learn that doulas are overflowing with LOVE. 

And where there’s love, there are endless hugs.