Doulas of Des Moines
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The Doula Dish

Tully: A raw and honest look at modern motherhood, or a disrespectful Hollywood nightmare?

NOTE: There are no major spoilers in this blog post, but some of the links in it DO contain major spoilers, so click with caution!

Tully hits theaters this weekend, and professionals who work with new and expectant parents have some feelings. The trailer made its rounds in the "birth world" some time ago and postpartum doulas collectively freaked. A movie about what we do?! Amazing! And then, as rumors of what the Hollywood "twist" to the plot might be, the mood shifted from excitement, to horror, to fury.

I don't expect Tully to get it right about postpartum Doulas, or even about night nannies (which is Tully's actual profession according to Google). How many movies, with a profession as a central theme, DO accurately portray that profession *documentaries don't count*? I can't think of any, to be honest. If you can, please comment below and enlighten me!

I don't expect Tully to be a perfect movie. And I do have some very real concerns. I sincerely hope that the movie doesn't make light of mental illness (as it's been hypothesized it might). I sincerely hope that it gives more credit to fathers than portraying an unhelpful idiot who offers no help and then says douchbagery nonsense like "hey, frozen pizza - awesome." I hope it shows the challenges and sometimes isolation of parenting while working outside of the home AND of stay-at-home parenting. I hope it takes the challenge of portraying modern parenting seriously and portrays it honestly and with compassion.

I have no hope whatsoever, though, that it will accurately portray what we do as postpartum doulas. If the movie were an accurate portrayal of doula support, it wouldn't be called "Tully." As doulas, we are not central to our clients' stories. We are supporting roles who provide support and reassurance to allow our clients to fill the leading roles in their own lives. We don't enter our clients' lives to steal the spotlight. If Tully were an accurate portrayal of postpartum doula support, you would see a well-rested, well-supported family thriving... and you'd catch a glimpse of their doula now and then - when they answer questions, teach the parents a helpful new swaddle technique, or sit and chat with a parent who wants some adult interaction or reassurance. And, frankly, that wouldn't make a very entertaining movie.

Of course, we can't fix everything or guarantee a complication-free postpartum period. Our clients don't all live drama-free lives just because they hired a doula. But, if you choose the right doula, we'll help make modern parenting a little LESS dramatic -- not more.