I believe there to be three experiences left to feel that are truly human; childbirth, sex/orgasm, death. When it comes to childbirth and the journey from maiden to mother, the ways in which we experience these events affects us greatly in both the now and the future. I've made it my calling to lovingly usher the individuals I work with through each one of these, in the hopes they harness the most transformational of changes through them.
I have never seen a face as honest, as the one a woman or birthing person wears in labour. There is no facade. No walls. No faking it. The ways one is pushed to the brinks of their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual brinks of themselves, is not something you can pretend or mimic. And that vulnerability, that 'realness', the loss of control, the unchartered territory, the uncertainty - it scares us so much that we would rather hand our instinct, intuition and power over to a system that has the potential to crush us in just one day's work.
I am invested in the human experience that is pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood. I am invested in it because it matters. It matters because the ways we feel happiness and the ways we feel trauma, the ways we feel grief or the ways we feel elation, have the potential to impact us positively or negatively on a cellular level. The impact strikes with force - it will make you or break you. If it 'makes you', you walk out feeling like you can DO ANYTHING; you become the blazing embodiment of confidence and competency. If it 'breaks you', you hobble out into the world like a whimpering animal in a landscape unknown to it; confused, alone, riddled with fears, concerns and unsure how they are meant to thrive when they can barely survive.
Every single mother, pregnant and/or birthing person, partner and baby deserves to start life alight with flames the dance that comes from the sheer joy of being alive, in love and connected. This is how we can fix the world - by caring about birth - by caring about the human experiences still left to live.
My Doula and Birth Photography work are the tools with which I make magic and amplify the message of my mission. I use affection, humour and enthusiasm to support my client/s as they navigate each aspect of their own stories, becoming a chameleon of sorts, ready to become whatever it is they need, whenever it is they need it - often before they even realise it.
- Angela Gallo
AusMumpreneur Awards 2018 Finalist in two categories: 'Influencer' Award and 'Digital Innovation' Award
Angela Gallo is a fiercely passionate birth professional who has successfully grown her Doula and birth photography business to a 6-figure empire built on social justice, women's empowerment and the desire to see maternal outcomes and experiences improved worldwide. Angela is especially enthusiastic about inspiring women to reclaim their personal powers in order to seize every opportunity in childbirth, their businesses and in the depths of their sensuality.
Question: What is a doula?
Angela Gallo: These days, Doulas can be found offering life-event specific support at a number of important crossroads humans experience. Abortion Doulas, Stillbirth/Loss Doula, Menstruation/Menopause Doulas, Sexuality Doulas, Death /End of Life Doulas, and of course, Birth and Postpartum Doulas. Birth Doulas are sometimes called Birthkeepers, Birth Attendants or Birth Coaches.
I consider myself a birth and postpartum Doula. Birth and Postpartum Doulas are third party professionals who bridge glaring gaps in mainstream maternal health care. Often the emotional and mental complexities of a woman or pregnant person are overlooked as a non-necessary component of the services most hospitals and clinics offer, as well as their critical importance in how the outcomes and experiences lived by that person follow suit to that disregard of their feelings.
Doulas swoop in to provide an exceptionally tailored service built around creating a safe, warm, loving, non-judgemental place where the women or birthing person's feelings come first above everything else. From here, they help you navigate care models available to you, educate you with the most up to date information available, help you understand the mechanics of the system you're journeying, demystify the process and help you feel excited about what's to come, inspire you to dig deep, rediscover your strengths and assert your desires/fears/concerns, and ultimately help prepare you to lean into the full transformative potential of childbirth and motherhood.
Question: What originally inspired your passion for helping women, during childbirth?
Angela Gallo: In 2013 I unexpectedly fell pregnant with my daughter and my entire world fell on its head in the most phenomenal of fashions. I knew zilch about pregnancy, birth or motherhood. Had never seen anyone breastfeed, had never even heard my mother or grandmothers birth stories. I felt like an alien in an alternate dimension and the reality of knowing absolutely nothing scared and humbled me in big ways. It all felt like a bit of a factory setting experience, to be honest. I knew something was missing. My then-husband was away working FIFO and I was unsure if he would be around for the birth, so I initially started searching 'hire help for your birth that isn't a midwife or ob' because at the time had no idea what a Doula was! From here, I found a Doula (Sarah Stogryn in Cobourg, Ontario) and my journey with her, at my newborn baby daughters side, propelled me face first into this career. A calling so loud, I couldn't ignore.
Question: What motivated you to combine being a doula with birth photography?
Angela Gallo: I didn't know birth photography existed if it hadn't of been for a local photographer Naomi at Acorn & Oak Photography asking if she could photograph my birth for kicks. I was freaking BLOWN away by having photographic memory of my daughter gracing me with her presence earthside after 45 hours of labour and three hours of pushing. Memories I wouldn't have or remember in that haze, if it weren't for Naomi. At first I started with birth photography as a means of diversifying my offerings and increasing value in my packages and client interactions. I picked up my first camera in 2014 and taught myself what I know by following the amazing works of people like Monet and Jenn from Birth Becomes Her and my dear friend (and birth photographer!) Lacey Barratt. I watched a lot of online tutorials and went to a workshop held by Victoria Berekmeri. Birth Photography classes didn't exist back then. Photography marries Doula work so beautifully - it makes complete sense.
Question: What role does a doula play during childbirth?
Angela Gallo: I often get asked to describe what I do and it's damn hard to explain. Call me your coach, confidante, counsellor, concierge and best friend. I am a chameleon who shape shifts to become whatever it is my client/s need during what can only be explained as one of the most vulnerable and physically/emotionally challenging moments of a human's life. Labour and birth are intense periods, exhausting, taxing - and with the wrong energy, the wrong people, the wrong environment, it is extremely easy for shit to hit the fan. As a professional dedicated to facilitating the most optimal flow of energy in the birth space, I use diligent attention to detail to make sure that my client and her partner are continuously supported - from start to finish - in a way that allows them to positively blossom and move into parenthood feeling confident, competent and capable of anything. What happens in birth stays with you forever. It will make you or break you, make my words. A Doula will do whatever she needs to do and help you to do whatever it is you need to do to make sure it MAKES you, moves you, shakes you and catapults you to joy a heck of a lot sooner than the unsupported, confused, overwhelmed, disconnected, lonely route that is conveyor belt birth.
Question: Can you share with us one of the more memorable childbirths you've been involved with?
Angela Gallo: I have books of poetry I write about the births I attend. So many memories, so many lessons, so many gifts, so much heart break, but above all - the closest to human I have ever felt has been in the company of those birthing their babies and rebirthing themselves in the process. A treasured memory would be a client who smiled - ear to ear smiling - her baby out into the world, in a birth tub, in a small country hospital. We laboured at home on her parent's ginormous acreage, listening to music and swaying in the sun. As sunset neared and we felt baby coming close, to hopped into our cars and drove down huge mountainous road in the ranges. Got to the hospital, jumped in the tub and within an hour, bubba was born. The whole time - SMILING. It's burned in my memories. In a world so transfixed on fear of birth and dramatised movie worthy writing in labour, it remained a powerful anchor for me and my teachings that indeed, birth is hard but it is also pure ecstasy and unadulterated happiness when we allows it the space to alchemise.
Question: What advice do you have for a women looking to find a doula for their birth?
Angela Gallo: Doulas in the pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood sphere come in a wide variety of personalities, skillsets, gifts and passions - prospective clients would have no issues finding one perfectly suited to their own values, eccentricities and beliefs. There are a multitude of ways to go about finding the right Doula for you. Start by using your favourite search engine and typing 'Doulas in my area' or similar. I train Doulas and I will have a matching service available soon to tee up clients and new Doulas. And Paige from BirthTube has a Doula Directory you could utilise, too.
Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Angela Gallo: I do a number of things and run multiple channels in my businesses. I have a variety of online courses and am waist deep in social media marketing for the purpose of social impact and justice. I take on a small number of personal clients now and am heavily focused on refining the ways I serve the birthing community at large. I launched a Doula Training Program this year and with over 200 students in its inaugural year, I am feeling really excited about how this is evolving. My days are a mix of online + offline work to keep all the ships sailing full steam ahead (including being mama to two children of my own!).
Question: How does it feel to be nominated for the AusMumpreneur Awards 2018?
Angela Gallo: Entrepreneurship and motherhood are two of my greatest accomplishments - melding them together and having them simultaneously affirmed is THE BEST. My journey in business has been unbelievably thrilling and being acknowledged by a group of like minded
Interview by Brooke Hunter