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Midwives Take Manhattan!

By Lisa Reagan

Pathways, Families for Conscious Living, BOLD and Ina May Gaskin Celebrate MOM in NYC

Pathways to Family Wellness, Families for Conscious Living, BOLD and a slate of VIPs from the natural birth movement celebrated the new Museum of Motherhood, MOM, in New York City on Labor Day, September 5, 2011. Pathways’ fall issue cover by Lynsey Stone of Pathways reader Rachel Whaley seconds after giving birth was featured in MOM’s history of birth exhibit.

A sold-out audience watched a live performance of the internationally acclaimed play Birth by Karen Brody before honoring BOLD activists and presenting pioneering midwife Ina May Gaskin with a lifetime achievement award. A simultaneous webcast of the play was viewed in 12 countries.

Positioned alongside New York City’s Museum Mile, MOM is the first museum of its kind. MOM’s vision is to be a “social change museum focused on amplifying the voices and experiences of mothers, while connecting the cultural family.”

“I founded MOM out of love and because it needed to be done,” says Joy Rose, MOM’s executive director. “The vision includes a fully empowered, financially abundant facility that serves the local and global community to study, educate and disseminate everything mother.”

Rose is president and founder of Mamapalooza Inc., a multimedia company that is “establishing a new art form that speaks to the unique and collective perspective of women who are mothers, while sharing this with the world.” In 2009, Rose was presented with the Susan B. Anthony Award by the National Organization of Women (NOW) in recognition of her grassroots activism.

Rose sees the museum as a center for more than interactive and imaginative exhibits; the expansive and welcoming space has already hosted support group gatherings, musical events, local mother and child groups, conferences for presenting academic papers, and the Labor Day celebration with the performance of Birth.

In her endorsement of the play, Christiane Northrup, M.D., has said, “The Vagina Monologues has helped free vaginas the world over—as well as their owners. Now it’s time to do the same for the birth canal—and pregnant women everywhere. And that is the power and glory contained in this magnificent, funny, and wonderfully wise play.”

Birth is a testimonies play by playwright Karen Brody based on more than one hundred interviews with mothers. The play tells the birth stories of seven women, offering a range of perspectives on how educated, middle-class, low-risk women give birth. The success of the play led to the creation of BOLD, for Birth On Labor Day, a global movement to make maternity care mother-friendly by inspiring communities to organize productions of the play. The play has raised nearly 1 million dollars for birth awareness.