Ashley Haden-Peaches, she/her, Peachy Births Doula and Lactation Services and her Facebook.
Emma: Hey, well, we’re going to dive in a little bit and hear more about your practice, so we’ll just start there. So, can you tell us a little about you, maybe that sweet little baby you have, and the work that you do in the world?
Ashley: So, I have been in my own solo practice for about three years. I trained through DONA. I just do full-spectrum doula practice, I also do childbirth education, I’m a CLC, and I’m gonna be taking my IBCLC exam next year, so really working on that.
Emma: That’s amazing. IBCLC is such an undertaking.
Ashley: Yes, oh my gosh, there’s so many things that go into it. So working on that, I do cloth diapering education, babywearing education and I do all of those in group and individual formats. And I’m in Kansas City, I serve the Kansas City metro, and I’ve also gone a little bit out of the Kansas City metro to some surrounding citie.
Emma: Beautiful, thank you for that. Important to know. And are you working with folks over Zoom or online for now?
Ashley: I haven’t been doing that many virtual birth supports, I have done several in-person births at our birth center out here, cause they haven’t been limiting doulas. So I’ve been doing in person births still, but I think some of our hospitals are going back to more limited. They let off of it for a month or two, and I think they’re moving back towards .. I’ll support people in whatever format they’re comfortable with, and whichever their birthing location allows.
Emma: Thanks for sharing that. Your baby is just like – oh my gosh – so adorable with all the eye contact right now.
Ashley: She’s like “stop talking, you’re talking too loud, I’m trying to sleep”
Emma: I know, maybe we’ll settle in, maybe we will. What are you queering right now?
Ashley: Y’know, I don’t really know what that question means! I am just working on a class about conceiving via artificial methods, so that’s kind of where I’m focusing on for queer folks. Just trying to put that together and everything made me switch to virtual, so trying to translate that into a virtual format as well. So that’s what I’m working on for queer folks, but just really trying to make connections with the queer community here in Kansas City, so I can support more birthing folks.
Emma: Beautiful, I think that answers the question, y’know! Basically what that covers, I love it. It’s so great to know – a lot of folks don’t connect with other queer people in the conception part of the process, too, so I’m really glad that you’re trying to expand that. That’s awesome. Well, what inspired you to do the work that you do now?
Ashley: So I also have a full time job. I work for a project that helps low-income families. The main purpose of the project is to reduce infant mortality. We know that Black women have the highest infant mortality rates and so it’s really focusing on that community and reducing the amount of infants that die before age 1. So we do safe sleep education and parenting education, lactation support and all those kinds of things that go into getting folks ready to have a baby and make a person. I’ve been doing that for about five years and kind of in the middle of that, I was listening to peoples’ stories about how they were treated during their labor and deliveries. How they felt like their providers were treating them. We’re based in a community health center, so a lot of our folks were having their prenatal care at our community health center and then they’d go to the hospital to deliver. So that means that they didn’t know who the person was who was in the delivery room – the doctor, the provider in the delivery room with them. So that created another layer of issues for folks as far as having their wishes honored —(looking at her baby) You are really staring at me, girl. (laughs)
So just doing that work – I wanted to get more information about how I can support these families and making decisions about their births, and about how they want to bring their children into the world. I came across doula support. We have a community doula program in Kansas City that is working to kind of expand access to doulas especially, especially for Black families. I’d heard about them and I was interested in delving into that world. I just kind of started from there – just wanted to provide more support for the families I was already working with and after that, I got my lactation certificate, my certificate for childbirth ed. I feel like, for most birth professionals, it spirals out of control and you’re getting all of these things and trying to add all these things to your repertoire.
Emma: It’s true- there’s so many ways to have that touchpoint with people in the process but clearly you’ve been deep in this world for a really long time, so.. Really, really awesome. Thanks for sharing all that. In terms of supporting families more directly, do you have a particular philosophy you want to share?
Ashley: There are lots of different types of doulas and birth professionals out there. I’ve always considered myself more of a birth advocate. I really don’t care how you want to birth or what you want to do, I just want to make sure that it happens safely and that you’re comfortable when you’re doing it. I am more about the process, I want to make sure that whatever that process is for you it’s what you’re looking for and try to help maintain the fidelity of your wishes and help you get to whatever that end goal is.
Emma: Beautiful, thanks so much. Well, now for a part that I find fun, what is your sign? We asked about your natal work, and I want to know your sun, moon, rising?
Ashley: So, I’m a Cancer, but I’m not an astrological person so I have no idea what the moon rising and the sun rising thing means? But I see that a lot – I see them and I have no idea what that means. So I really have no idea what the moons and suns are.
Emma: Totally fair. It’s where those were positioned at your time of birth. But my dad and my sister are Cancers, so I feel ya at least that much. I’m using this as an opportunity to learn more myself. I’ve been surrounded by people who are into it for long enough, and I’m like, you know what? I’m just gonna go with that. Well, what’s your favorite thing about working with LGBTQ+ people, or being a queer support person in the perinatal sphere?
Ashley: I just really appreciate being able to have so many different family experiences. Have that reflected in the families that I see and then in my own family. It’s really great to build that community with folks and have our kids be able to see other families reflected (baby noises), and just being able to make those connections with families that are the same and different and look all different kinds of ways.
Emma: Baby’s like, so into it. I’m so glad.
Ashley: She’s really into you right now.
Emma: We’re hanging out! This is cool, I haven’t digitally hung out with enough babies – or in person – this year, so. If you could pick a particular thing to improve about the experience overall – conceiving, pregnancy, postpartum – for queer/trans families, what would that be?
Ashley: I think that even as a person who, so my wife had our first baby, and then I had this one. So now we’ve got two kids, and I think just going through this process myself – you really don’t know. Especially going through it the first time, you really don’t know everything that’s out there and all the supports that are available. So I wish that families just knew that there are supports for the entire process. It is possible to – and I have people ask me about inducing lactation a lot, and that’s what I’m really passionate about. I induced lactation for our first kiddo to a full supply, I nursed her for 14 months and then after that I was like, I’m done pumping, let’s– cause I spent a lot of time doing that. So I’m really passionate about that, and I had just happened to stumble across this information pretty early on when we were starting to think about having babies. It makes it really difficult if you don’t get that information soon enough, so I just really wish that people know about all of the information that’s available around inducing lactation or on finding support prenatally and for labor and delivery. Just knowing there are people out there who are interested in helping folks create their families, multiply the love, all that.
Emma: Thanks so much. And that’s SO. COOL. That you were able to induce lactation to a full supply, you should be super proud, that’s amazing. I just think so many people would love to learn from that experience. I’m curious if you have any advice for new or aspiring queer and trans birth workers, childbirth educators, queer family members..
Ashley: The first thing I would say is try to network with other birth professionals in your area. I don’t, I mean… there aren’t that many queer folks here in the midwest doing this work. There’s just some of us, but just not enough for sure. Just trying to make those connections. I’d love to make a queer doula collective for Kansas City, just so people have a starting point of where they can look to for all those supports I was talking about. Just networking with people in your community. I also think it’s really important that if you decide to go for certification for any of the possibilities of things you can get certified for that you really do some research into that agency, and making sure that they align with your values.
Emma: That’s awesome advice. I love it. And perhaps, the answer is, “Kansas City queer doula collective,” but is there anything that you want to cross pollinate in the community, if you’re putting out feelers for anything, what can we help you connect with?
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. I know of a couple other queer doulas in Kansas City, but again we don’t have enough. And I don’t know that the queer community in Kansas City knows about what doulas do and how to reach us and that kind of thing, so for sure trying to establish that baseline of information for folks. Of course I offer all those classes, and just trying to provide that information to folks.
Emma: Thanks so much. Is there anything not perinatal about your life that you want to share? It seems like you’re pretty deep into that world, but yeah…
Ashley: Yeah, I do a lot of birth work. I also do a lot of social justice work. I help run a youth social justice camp every summer. This summer, we had to cancel, so that was hard after doing all the recruitment all spring and last fall and this happening to people, eugh. Don’t think we’ll do anything this year, and it’s just going to be so difficult to make it into some kind of virtual format. All of all our experiential activities are so based on being in person. But we’re definitely talking about how to navigate that so that we can do more things that are a little nontraditional as far as being in person, doing those activities. We’re talking about it. So I’m really passionate about social justice and birth work and helping to combine and meld those arenas so that I can do all of the things that I love at once.
Emma: Amazing. Well, it looks like you’re working on it, it looks like it’s working out. You’re doing amazing. Well, where can people find you on the internet, and find you and support your projects?
Ashley: My solo company is Peachy Births, Doula and Lactation Services. I am only on Facebook and I have a website. I am an “older” millennial, I guess, so I don’t use instagram (laughs) or, I’m on Twitter.. Actually, I’m not on Twitter… I’m on Twitter personally, but I just don’t use it.
Emma: That’s a perfectly good answer. I literally haven’t used Instagram, I make Katie do it. So .. that’s..(laughs) this is cool. Awesome. Well, I’m gonna thank you so much, and thanks to your sweet baby for being so amazing during this recording and we’ll talk soon.