Interviews & Conversations Projects Women I've Shot

Positive Birth in South Africa: This is Sarah Meder

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.

Sarah trained with British Doulas in 2004, giving her 12 years experience in the nursing and birthing industry. She is also a Birthing From Within Mentor, hypnosis professional and a reiki master. She is currently a student nurse aspiring to become a midwife. She works in the greater Cape Town area.

Sarah Meder student Midwife South Africa Photographed by Leah Hawker

“I think the history of birth in South Africa has been strongly paternalistic with a majority still “buying into” this model, both as patient and care provider. However, people are slowly finding their voices…change is slow. I feel hopeful that both parents and care providers will help dismantle this system which is incredibly dis-empowering to everyone involved.”

“Attitudes to women’s bodies and rights seem closely tied to their wealth or poverty. Women who are impoverished seem to expect to be treated badly when giving birth, those who are wealthy often have unrealistic expectations of control over every aspect of birth. Artificial-feeding can be seen by some to be an example of wealth or by others as a sign that the mother is HIV+.”

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

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