Art by: Candid Almond

I’ve been pretty politically correct about this topic for many years, and mainly to do with the fact that I too, am a product of the environment and society I live in—I didn’t know any better.

But now, I do. Now I know better. And I would be doing a disservice to girls, women, people with uterus’s, and folks who are able to get pregnant if I don’t say something.

Hormonal birth control is an $8 billion dollar market. $8 BILLION. You think giving us autonomy and body literacy would produce profits? Not in this economy. It’s right in the word itself: [birth] control.

Hormonal birth control is not safe. It does not cure “heavy painful periods.” It does not prevent pregnancy. And on top of the things that birth control claims to do, it is seriously dangerous. These risks can no longer be taken lightly. Any of the things listed above could happen to you. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, does not mean it can’t happen.

I’ve heard too many stories from the people I love about too many personal issues they are having, well knowing they are on some kind of hormonal birth control.

What if I told you that the answer to your needs is as simple as prioritizing nutrition, learning and tracking your cycle, and living within the natural rhythm of your body? I’m no longer offering gentle nudges. Only firm pushes.

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I have been thinking a lot lately about the power of community and how birthwork is so inextricably linked. I would not be where I am today without the strong women and people in my life constantly showing their support. As I progress in my own journey—learning and unlearning—all the necessary tools to show up for birthing people, I feel that I am diving deeper into my passion. Accepting the call to be of service to women and birthing people has been one of the greatest blessings of my life so far.

Amongst many of the moments that have sparked introspection and thought, was when I headed into the city for a day trip with one of my good friends. We walked aimlessly allowing ourselves to become lost and found, indulging in papusas from Panchita's on16th in the Mission, and finding solace in the presence of one another. In divine timing, as I thought to myself how good it felt share space where we both felt fully seen and heard, I looked up and saw one of the most incredible murals on The Women's Building.

"MaestraPeace Mural was painted in 1994 by a “Who’s Who” of Bay Area muralists: Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton and Irene Perez. One of San Francisco’s largest and best known murals, MaestraPeace and serves as a visual testament to the courageous contributions of women through time and around the world. Every day, the mural attracts the awe and cameras of tourists from around the world. It is seen by them and the San Francisco Bay Area community as a work of artistic achievement and a symbol of the contributions of women throughout history and the world."

—History of the Mural, The Women's Building

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Something that has always fascinated me has been within the exploration of birth traditions tied to my Jewish lineage. It is important to remember that Jews, as a people, are an entho-religious group. Meaning, we are unified by a common religious and ethnic background. Specially within birth ideologies, Jews believe the human soul exists before birth, and human life begins after.

What I am most interested in, is learning about the herbs and rituals my ancestors used for health and healing, specifically before and after birth. Stones and a variety of herbs were used to facilitate delivery, which was usually supervised by an experienced midwife, friends, and relatives. A circle was drawn from charcoal on the floor of the room to guard against evil spirits.

Another common tradition in all sects of Judaism includes the mother going to the mikvah after birth to welcome and begin this new phase of her life through a physical, emotional, and spiritual water bath. The Talmud, one of the many texts of Jewish spirituality, mentions many herbs, but today the most popular herbs used within the Jewish community as well as other communities include using healing properties of lemon, rosemary, thyme, lavender, chamomile, calendula, rose, and burdock.

While there are many laws and traditions that I do NOT agree with, considering a heavy influence of patriarchal norms, chauvinism, and even explicit forms of misogyny, especially within ultra-orthodox and even some conservative communities, I would like to believe there are still many beautiful customs and traditions that we can learn from. I hope to continue learning and utilizing the beautiful traditional forms of healing in my own life and in birthwork.

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