I am a practicing midwife and have been in the field since 1985 when I qualified from Mowbray Maternity Nursing College.

I have worked as a midwife for a number of years at Mowbray, Vincent pallotti and Constanciaberg hospitals. I was inspired to go into private practice with a colleague after experiencing my own home births in 1987, 1989, 1991.

I was fascinated by the difference in the experience in terms of intimacy,autonomy and the incredible body confidence I experienced from the privacy of the home births and the nurturing support of the midwife compared to the hospital experiences I had with my first two births.

Joy Mc Pherson and I started Midwives Inc in 1993 working from Constanciaberg and later Kingsbury, Vincent Pallotti and Milnerton Medi clinic.

Our mission was to bring the gentle births, which are possible at home, into the hospital environment so that it was an option for all women.

It has been one of my greatest joys to watch the progressive changes from babies been separated in incubators for at least 6 hours post delivery to skin to skin for the first 24 hours post delivery. Low lighting and delayed cord clamping is now the norm, and are even done as much as possible with Caesarian sections. Women are now active in labour bouncing on balls, and they now have doulas which are showing the medical world what a huge impact proper emotional support can have in labour. I remember the early days when Joy was mocked for bringing a beach ball into a labour ward. Now, it is standard equipment.

The greatest achievement of this gentle way of birthing is a family centered hospital dedicated to midwifery led births in the private sector which has finally been built in Cape Town. This was Joy's dream after she was inspired by her friend's centre in Switzerland in the 90's. This is what inspired her to start Midwives Inc and change the way birth was experienced here in Cape town.


Having worked in the field for thirty years.

I believe that proper support is the most important factor to allow a woman to feel safe enough to surrender to the powerful transformative process of birth.

I am focusing on working on ways of supporting women in a deeper way so that the process of birthing is easier. My feeling is that if there is more emotional support and compassion, the capacity to surrender to the process of both birth and parenthood is less traumatic and far more enjoyable.

I have developed the art of birthing course with this in mind. Having studied family constellation with Tanja Meyberg and qualified as a facilitator in 2016, this modality is used in many ways to clear the birthing field. I started the Soul Integration work with Robyn Sheldon in 2016 also with the view of deepening women’'s experience of birth as it is such a profound time of transformation and these sessions can really deepen one's experience. I use these modalities for those who choose the Art of Birthing programme as it deepens the process and offers insights not received in other ways.

I was born Sandra Elizabeth Nowell. It changed over time, and through marriage, to Sandy Standish. My Medical reputation as an experienced midwife has been built on this name.

However I am returning to my roots and my maiden surname, Nowell. I have added the new name; Ayla as a celebration of this journey.

There may be some confusion for awhile in the birthing circles until Sandy Standish and Ayla Nowell are recognized as the same person.

My Mission is to support and show the younger generation new ways of birthing, or more realistically, how to tap into their own instincts and let go the fears we have been conditioned to believe around birth. I also aim to help remove the disconnect from the body so that it can move and birth instinctively without inhibition in a supportive, loving environment.