A Doula Story

USA | 2006 | 60 min

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A Doula Story is a verite documentary that tells the remarkable story of one woman’s fierce commitment to empower young women — pregnant, frightened and alone — to become nurturing and confident mothers. The film draws attention to not only the issue of teenage pregnancy, a sobering crisis affecting one out of every eight American mothers, but also to an inspiring and practical solution which offers not judgment or pity, but empowerment through education and respect.

Loretha Weisinger carries the memories of being a pregnant teen herself, and brings that gravity right into the delivery room, where the film begins. Loretha pulls no punches. “It’s bloody, it’s shaky, and it’s scary,” Loretha tells them, “But you’re not going to be alone.” From these arresting moments, A Doula Story dives deep into Weisinger’s work with a few of the up to 17 girls she mentors at a time: KeKe and Je’Taun relatively confident and relaxed; Linesa and Shamika visibly less so.

“My job is to give the girls their voice back,” says Loretha, and the girls’ confidence does bloom when she is at their side. But heartwarming episodes are matched with daily frustrations and setbacks. JeTaun’s intense labor with Loretha standing by her; a calming moment with Shamika on a park bench preparing for the trials ahead; Loretha’s patience tested by Linesa’s unwillingness to come to terms her impending motherhood; KeKe doting on her newborn baby — smiling, confident and fearless.

A Doula Story was produced with the support of the Sundance Documentary Fund, distributed to PBS stations by APT in 2006-2007 and broadcast on about 70 stations nationwide. In addition, the film won a CINE Golden Eagle and was Best Documentary at the Director's View Festival and the Milwaukee International Film Festival. It screened in competition at the San Francisco International and Hot Springs Documentary Film Festivals and at numerous other festivals around the country.