Interviews & Conversations Projects Women I've Shot

Positive Birth in South Africa: This is Daphne Lyell

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 birth and the body.

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.

Daphne  Lyell is a doctor and homeopath but a midwife at heart. She’s based in Woodstock Cape Town where she shares suites with other pregnancy and birthing professionals Caitlyn Collins (midwife) and Lynne Groenewald (antennal yoga).

Daphne has been doing what she terms as “the real birth work”  since April 2015 but has worked in the medical model of care from 2008 onwards.


Daphne Lyell -Birth South Africa - Portraits by Leah Hawker

“The beauty of seeing a women become a mother as her labour unfolds and she’s brought to the brink of her control and that moment when she lets herself go and fall into the abyss where nature takes over.  The realisation that the control was an illusion.”

“Us doctors are never taught to trust mothers, to trust normal..we’re exposed to abnormal with such a strong emphasis on emergency and pathology and therefore fear driven.  We’re taught to trust machines, clocks, scalpels..not mothers….I think it’s important that women understand how our system is built and why it is important for them to search for and opt for midwife led care.”

” In South Africa’s private system there is Only the care equivalent to tertiary care.  Hence all women, low and high risk, get monitored by an obstetrician, that was trained in the system that handled high risk women.”

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

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