A Conversation with Independent Midwife Natasha Stadler

_South-African-Independent-Midwife---Natasha-Stadler---001

Natasha Stadler is a midwife based in Somerset West, 30min out of Cape Town, we met at the Midwifery & Birth Conference hosted by Home Birth SA in 2015, when I photographed her portrait amongst many other South African midwives and doulas that were present. 

We chatted at the event and, a while later, in March 2016, I visited her home-based birthing and meeting space which is in a private cottage apartment in her peaceful  neighborhood. Natasha has been in her profession since 1990 and we spent quite some time chatting about her experiences with women.

Birth: a perfect process

Natasha spoke about the somewhat magical element of protection she observes taking place in the labouring mothers body and that of the birthing baby. Many of her observations and remarks where new to me and totally intriguing. For example, Natasha observed how, often, babies that were not receiving what they needed in utero  often arrived earlier than expected. She saw similarly aligned elements occurred when for instance, a knot was found in the umbilical cord, the labour had been far quicker and the contractions shorter , perhaps as an automatic protection of the life of the baby. 

Details from Natasha’s home birth space in Somerset West. The picture on the left is a capture from the Vietnam war,- a soldier assists a local giving birth.

We discussed how, very often, labor begins in a safe place, at night when we would naturally be in a sheltered environment. When potential problems occur or labour is not progressing as it should, it is often natures indication that something is wrong… and it gives time for the body to respond as best it can. 

Another intriguing observation,- Women seldom go into labour when they are ill or stressed. Generally when the process of labour is quietly observed and a pregnancy has been closely monitored, elements have the opportunity to fall into place, to align. 

I imagine midwives as the guardians and story-keepers of natural birth, the ones who allow the process to unfold, a womans wisdom to stay intact and she and her babe to be supported. 

Their personalized approach to midwifery, and astute observations, create space for birthing mothers to labour in their own way. It struck me how straight forward birth could be when not interfered with, a safe environment is created and when fear is eliminated from the process..

The power in sharing information and the changes happening in the birth arena:

Women are the source of life, the choices we make directly influence the generations to come”  

Interestingly, there has been much pro-natural birth talk in the last decade and thus, it seems, media has picked it up and past it on as well. Natasha has noticed a steady increase in requests for natural births in the last 4 years. I believe the sharing of stories, a very feminine characteristic, is responsible for carrying this information between women.

Details from Natasha’s home birth space in Somerset West.

Fact sharing and communication are shining light on topics women have not properly informed themselves about in the more recent past (so many alarming reasons for this). I like to think that the changes seen during birth and in early motherhood (such as immediate umbilical cord clamping and the value of breastmilk and breastfeeding) have started to shift (as a result of an increase in research and information available) after much more analysis has taken place about such practices.

50% of Natasha’s clients wanted home births in the past, now an incredible 95% of her mothers-to-be request this from the outset… 

Details from Natasha’s home birth space in Somerset West.

The empowering process of letting go- observations from a midwife:

“Never are life and death so close together than (as) during birth. The mother has two lives and the possibility of two deaths (her own and that of her child) at stake”, Natasha pointed out during our conversation , which I found  humbling.

Natasha spoke about how labour and birth can open up portals to any trauma a woman may have experienced up to that point in her life. It’s a well known fact that many women revisit past abuse or traumatic experiences during birth, coming face to face with their subconscious in these moments. It’s at these junctions that one leaves much of one’s past behind and steps into the new and compromising role as Mother.

We spoke about the healing elements  birth has brought to many of the women , in her care. In Natasha’s words,

“Because birth is a process of letting go and trusting, (yourself, your body, any higher powers you may believe in) it grossly effects a women’s experience of being, after the process of labour and birthing her baby”.

Being informed, prepared and incorporating the wisdom of a midwife or doula to investigate and prepare for the process is an obvious solution to my mind.  Thanks for your wisdom Natasha!

 

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Positive Birth in South Africa: This is Heidi Padoa


The Gate-Keepers: A Portraiture Project

This is a portraiture project, documenting the “gatekeepers” of a growing movement regarding positive birth experiences in our country.  My aim: to promote those who are enabling women to identify with their power and femininity and therefore normalize the processes before, during and after birth.

These are their stories / anecdotes / opinions about what they do and how they see it…accompanied by my portraits and some general information on each sitter.

Heidi is a doula based in the Garden Route area, Western Cape, South Africa. I met her at the Midwifery and Birth Conference in Cape Town in 2015. Heidi has been a doula for 6 years. She qualified as a professional labour and birth assistant through WOMBS in 2010 and has birthed 8 children herself (her own and surrogate), including; home, hospital, caesarean, breech and twin birth.

“I believe that the birth of a baby is a deeply sacred and miraculous event, filled with mystery, challenges, beauty, power, love and great joy which will affect women emotionally for as long as they live. It is divinely created to be a perfect, safe and strengthening process.
A woman is in her greatest power during childbirth, working with the co-creative forces of nature to allow the miracle of life to pass through her.”


“I most love to help women throughout their journey in pregnancy and birth, by providing emotional, informational and physical support, as I serve them as a doula.
I have attended many home, hospital and caesarean births, including the unassisted, undisturbed HBAC of twins and an amazing, unassisted HBA5C  (home waterbirth after 5 cesareans), amongst all the other miraculous births I have had the privilege to support”.

• (I invite more participants to join the project, you are welcome to email me for more information).

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The Collection: Panties
#158- #161

 (Please note: This is the “archive” of the collection of shoot props (generally lingerie/womens attire somehow) that I have gathered over the last 11 years of my career.
They are catalogued by number, and description for now as well as any other relevant information about their individual histories- how I came to have the items, what shoots they might have been used for, etc.
The style in which I document an item may vary according to the type of garment/object it is).

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.158---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.158---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 158 – Panties
Navy blue, synthetic, high-waisted, vintage panties from Woolworths. They have a lace front.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.159---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.159---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 159 – Panties
The second of two identical pairs: hot pink, satin panties with stretch mesh front. Black edging and embroidery over the bum reading “Kiss me…”

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.160---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.160---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 160 – Panties
Black cotton/synthetic blend panties. These are supplied as “disposable” knickers when visiting some spa’s.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.161---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.161---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 161 – Panties
Black, size small La Senza g-string. I bought these for a Playboy shoot in 2013 but they didn’t make it into the project in the end.

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The Collection: Panties
#154- #157

 (Please note: This is the “archive” of the collection of shoot props (generally lingerie/womens attire somehow) that I have gathered over the last 11 years of my career. They are catalogued by number, and description for now as well as any other relevant information about their individual histories- how I came to have the items, what shoots they might have been used for, etc. The style in which I document an item may vary according to the type of garment/object it is).

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.154---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.154---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 154 – Panties
Grey cotton tanga pantie in corona with red bow detail. Size small from a Woolworths sale about 5 years ago.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.155---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.155---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 155 – Panties
A great and wake Woodstock factory shop find: blue cotton granny panties or very full briefs in sky blue with white elastic trim.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.156---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.156---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 156 – Panties
Synthetic, white, seamless g-string in size medium from Pick ‘n Pay clothing. Bought as a basic items for a shoot two years ago.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.157---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.157---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

Sabian Ransome Photographed for Playboy South Africa by Leah Hawker Cape Town Photographer

# 157 – Panties
White cotton g-string in size small from La Senza bought specifically for the Miss March Playmate photoshoot for Playboy South Africa in 2013 with Sabian Ransome (pictured above in one of the PR shots).

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The Collection: Panties
#150- #153

 (Please note: This is the “archive” of the collection of shoot props (generally lingerie/womens attire somehow) that I have gathered over the last 11 years of my career.
They are catalogued by number, and description for now as well as any other relevant information about their individual histories- how I came to have the items, what shoots they might have been used for, etc.
The style in which I document an item may vary according to the type of garment/object it is).

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.150---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.150---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 150 – Panties
White stretch mech and lace thong, size small. I think I sourced these for a Playboy South Africa shoot from either La Senza or Womans Secret. They’ve been made with a little too much gusset length which invites them to be worn in a retro 80’s super-high leg cut like shown here.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.151---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.151---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 151 – Panties
Size small white cotton g=striong with white lace waist band from La Senza. Still brand new, soothed for Playboy South Africa’s photoshoots, 2013.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.152---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.152---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

Nudes-and-Commissions-by-Leah-Hawker-Cape-Town-Photography

# 152 – Panties
Black stretch lace string with white ribbon detailing, size medium, “bm intimates” from Mr.Price. These were originally sourced for a French Made themed photoshoot somewhere in 2006. They’ve been used in a number of shoots including this private commission above which was shot in the dungeon in the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.153---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.153---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex
# 153 – Panties
Romans Secret, black stretch-lace thong with nude, velvet bow details at the hips. These were sourced for a Playboy South Africa shoot in June 2013.

 

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The Collection: Panties
#147- #149

 (Please note: This is the “archive” of the collection of shoot props (generally lingerie/womens attire somehow) that I have gathered over the last 11 years of my career.
They are catalogued by number, and description for now as well as any other relevant information about their individual histories- how I came to have the items, what shoots they might have been used for, etc.
The style in which I document an item may vary according to the type of garment/object it is).

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.147---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.147---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

Tersha Macwiya 35 by Leah Hawker

# 147 – Panties
Yellow, black and white mesh and lace g-string, size small from Mr.Price. I sourced these specifically for The Miss May Playmate PR portraits in 2013 with Tersha Makwiya.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.148---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.148---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 148 – Panties
Black cotton tanga pantie from Woolworths, came in a 3-set. (black, red and a floral print), size small. A useful cut for many shoots which is why I bought them.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.149---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.149---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 149 – Panties
White cotton boiled briefs from Mr.Price. These came in a 2-set (the others are an inverse of these). They were bought and sourced for a soccer theme nude shoot in 2010 just before the World Cup in Cape Town.

 

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The Collection: Panties
#143- #146

 (Please note: This is the “archive” of the collection of shoot props (generally lingerie/womens attire somehow) that I have gathered over the last 11 years of my career.
They are catalogued by number, and description for now as well as any other relevant information about their individual histories- how I came to have the items, what shoots they might have been used for, etc.
The style in which I document an item may vary according to the type of garment/object it is).

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.143---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.143---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

Sabian-Ransome-photographed-in-Cape-Town-by-Leah-Hawker-for-Playboy-South-Africa-Gym-Bunny

# 143 – Panties
White cotton boiled briefs from La Senza. I sourced these specifically for Sabian Ransome’s Miss March Playmate shoot in 2013 (image above).

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.144---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.144---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 144 – Panties
Olive green and ox-blood red thong from La Senza. These were part of a batch a friend “donated” to the collection after a break-up.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.145---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.145---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 145 – Panties
White and blue cotton, boy-leg panty from Pep (R24.99 about 3 years ago) somewhere in the Western Cape of South Africa.

 

The-Collection---PANTIES---no.146---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

The-Collection---PANTIES-back---no.146---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 146 – Panties
White lace thong in size medium from Cotton On on sale.

 

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The Collection: Stockings
#139- #142

 (Please note: This is the “archive” of the collection of shoot props (generally lingerie/womens attire somehow) that I have gathered over the last 11 years of my career.
They are catalogued by number, and description for now as well as any other relevant information about their individual histories- how I came to have the items, what shoots they might have been used for, etc.
The style in which I document an item may vary according to the type of garment/object it is).

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.139---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

Those-are-Pearls-that-were-his-eyes--by-Leah-Hawker-photographed-in-Simons-Town-South-Africa

# 139 – Stockings
Tan, low-sheen stockings which have been cut in order to be used as hold-ups like in this image above which was part of a series I produced in 2008.

 

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.140---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 140 – Stockings
Sheer, Black stockings cut to convert into hold-ups for photoshoots.

 

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.141---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 141 – Stockings
Sheer, black stockings with polka-dot pattern. These remind me of 1990’s Pretty Woman every time.

 

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.142---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 142 – Stockings
Tan/beige coloured, sheer stockings. These are probably the most standard stocking variety you can find in South Africa.

 

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The Collection: Stockings
#135- #138

 (Please note: This is the “archive” of the collection of shoot props (generally lingerie/womens attire somehow) that I have gathered over the last 11 years of my career.
They are catalogued by number, and description for now as well as any other relevant information about their individual histories- how I came to have the items, what shoots they might have been used for, etc.
The style in which I document an item may vary according to the type of garment/object it is).

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.135---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 135 – Stockings
My second pair of almost-vintage, deep blue, sheer stockings. They have an almost same-same sheer gusset/re-enforced area as the rest of the pair of hosiery.

 

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.136---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 136 – Stockings
Nearly nude, sheer hold-ups stockings.

 

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.137---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 137 – Stockings
Black fishnet stockings cut off into sort of mid-leg-wearing stockings or sleeves. They were used for a Goth themed party portrait in 2007.

 

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.138---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 138 – Stockings
Warm tan coloured stockings in a super high sheen with a mat gusset area.

 

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The Collection: Stockings
#131- #134

 (Please note: This is the “archive” of the collection of shoot props (generally lingerie/womens attire somehow) that I have gathered over the last 11 years of my career.
They are catalogued by number, and description for now as well as any other relevant information about their individual histories- how I came to have the items, what shoots they might have been used for, etc.
The style in which I document an item may vary according to the type of garment/object it is).

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.131---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

 

Nudes-and-Commissions-by-Leah-Hawker-(39)

# 131 – Stockings
Black cut-off fish-net stocking hold-ups. Used in quite a few private commission shoots over the years.

 

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.132---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

Room-no.-111-from-the-9-Hotel-Rooms-series-shot-in-Cape-Town-2009-

# 132 – Stockings
White, sheer, cut-off stockings hold-ups. These have been used in quite a few shoots like the included image above but also many private commissions with “The Housewives

 

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.133---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 133 – Stockings
Semi-sheer black stockings with a floral pattern. These have been cut-off to be used as hold-ups with a suspender belt instead since its always been so hard to find this kind of product in South Africa.

 

The-Collection---STOCKINGS---no.134---Catalogued-for-TheSofterSex

# 134 – Stockings
Deep indigo, gusseted sheer, stockings. handed down from an aunts old wardrobe. I’ve ended up with two very similar pairs- both have worked well in past shoots.
Found and liked this quote which is appropriate here:

The phrase “don’t bust a gusset” (a variation of “don’t blow a gasket”) is an admonition to calm down; becoming so enraged and inflated that one busted a gusset would imply extreme rage and expansion beyond one’s clothing capacity”

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