On Saturday, October 30, at The Atrium in Brooklyn, New York, the Mama Glow team watched in awe and gratitude as over 350 birth workers, care providers, non-profit organizations, brands, female founders, and more safely converged under one roof for a day of education, community-building, networking, business development, and self-care at THE DOULA EXPO 2021. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, we dreamed of one day being back in-person with our family of doulas, partners, and collaborators – almost 20 months later, the product of that dreaming (plus a lot of hard work) was more than we could have possibly imagined.
The open floor-plan space was completely transformed by Kathy Romero Events, and as guests filled the space at 10 AM sharp to start the day, they were instantly swaddled out of the cold Autumn rain and into a jungle of plants and florals, plush seating, and the warm, lively hues of both earth and sea.
The festivities kicked off right away with activations as we flowed through a maze of the Expo’s incredible female-founded brands. Ancestral Whisper, Beyond Doula, Box for Loss, Doula Deity, #HappyPeriod, HerBirthing Method, IRTH App, Kibou, Kudos, Mahmee, Rosebud Woman, Rae’s Roots, Spring Fertility, and Universal 4 sampled their products and services and took thoughtful time to educate attendees (and one another!) on how they’re committed to supporting birth work and care providing. Waist beads over at Doula Deity’s table and massages with Universal 4 were some fan-favorites offerings for the community!
Carol’s Daughter promoted the Love Delivered, campaign in partnership with the Mama Glow Foundation, and gave away some of their coveted hair care products with the help of their awesome team of brand ambassadors.
Daily Dose kept us all nourished and well-fed with vegan dishes and treats, including a decadent Chocolate Avocado Mousse, and Anima Mundi Herbals poured delicious elixirs at their Tonic Bar to keep the energy up all day long. Snacks and drinks from Agni, B.T.R. Bar, Aloha, Earth & Star, and Yumi were also enjoyed by guests of all ages, and we loved seeing attendees bring their children into the space as the “next generation.”
Momotaro Apotheca made the single-stall restrooms fun and flirty with florals, colorful accessories, samples from their intimate care line, and inspiring decals, reminding every guest as they looked into the mirror that they are a “Badass Birthworker.” Frida Mom‘s photo booth installation centered feminine power, too, with a larger-than-life vagina as the background for attendees to pose in front of.
The March of Dimes‘s “Unspoken Stories” lounge held an intimate space for guests to share personal birth stories, experiences as doulas, and advocacy work, as well as envision what it will look like to design a better system for birthing people and birth workers.
The Kate Spade New York Wellness Lounge, enveloped in floral walls and comfy furnishings, served as a “home base” for programming that supported self-love, mindfulness, meditation, and mental health. WTHN offered ear seeding and quick cupping treatments, Isa Herrera spoke above pelvic floor therapy, Ebonie Karma Tudor led yoga practices, and Nneka Symister, LCSW, led postpartum group therapy.
The Doula Expo Main Stage hosted keynote speeches and panel conversations all day long, with Mama Glow and Mama Glow Foundation founder Latham Thomas kicking off the programming with an address (and dance party) for the audience. March of Dimes President and CEO Stacey D. Stewart spoke to doulas Ebonie Tudor and Desiree Sprauve about advocating for a better system for birthing people and birth workers. Mama Glow Director of Content and Partnerships Daphne Thompson moderated a discussion with Spring Fertility’s Dr. Kolbe Hancock and Dr. Nicole Yoder on the importance of individualized fertility care plans and supporting pregnant clients who underwent fertility treatments. Director Abby Epstein screened a preview of her upcoming film “The Business of Birth Control.” Frida Mom Senior Brand Manager Krupa Hemraj talked about “being motherhood prepared,” and IRTH App founder Kimberly Seals Allers and Mahmee co-founder Melissa Hanna educated on the digital tools they’ve created to protect maternal health and advance birth equity. #HappyPeriod’s Chelsea VonChaz and Momotaro Apotheca’s Lindsay Wynn took turns advocating for centering self-love and self-care in body literacy.
Keynote conversation “Say Her Name: How the Black Maternal Health Crisis Impacts Our Families,” presented by Carol’s Daughter and Love Delivered, was the most stirring moment of the day. Bruce McIntyre, founder of the saveArose Foundation, bravely shared the story of his partner Amber Rose Isaac, who lost her life in childbirth at the hands of medical negligence and is the inspiration behind his work to dismantle the systemic flaws within the healthcare system & provide safer birthing outcomes.
At the end of the day, guests left with leather Kate Spade New York crossbody bags packed full of products from Frida Mom, Rosebud Woman, Flamingo, Anya, The Honey Pot, Liquid IV, and WTHN, to help them advance their birth work and deepen their self-care practices at home.
It was truly incredible to witness industry leaders and activists in the health and wellness spaces coming together to learn from one another and build connections that will only further empower their game-changing and life-saving work, aimed at improving access to equitable care across the reproductive health continuum. And, of course, it was the perfect way to reunite in celebration of all that’s been accomplished and overcome during our time spent physically distant.