The New York Times – Extreme Pain, but Also Extreme Joy

Maggie Shannon

Extreme Pain, but Also Extreme Joy is currently exhibiting at Tilt in Philadelphia from 10th February – 26th March 2022.

At the beginning of the pandemic Maggie followed 4 midwives across Los Angeles documenting them, and expecting parents, as they navigated the changing world of Covid-19.

In Maggie’s own words – “The midwives’ phones rang endlessly with calls from terrified women hoping to deliver safely and in their own homes. With hospitals flooded with sick patients and many banning partners from the delivery room, the possibility of going through childbirth without a mask and in a familiar setting seemed, to these women, like the only option. 

At a time marked by separation and death, these stories of connection and love feel especially healing. Childbearing and the work of midwives is not well documented; the realities of childbirth are still taboo. This projects presents individuals’ labor stories in an unflinching way. At a time when a difficult process is made even harder, the need to be honest about childbirth and our own bodies seems even more important. Each one of these stories is unique and it’s crucial to this project to present a diversity of mothers and birth workers, and not just a whitewashed version. This pandemic has disproportionately affected women, and this project illuminates some of the burdens they must bear.”

Extreme Pain, but Also Extreme Joy won The Creative Review’s Photography Annual 2021 and Global Peace Photo Award – Peace Image of the Year 2021.