This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Go here to provide your responses to the profile questions and I’ll include you!
Erich Otten aka ‘The Doula Dude’ is a full-spectrum doula, anarchist birthkeeper and complementary therapist. He has supported women and reproductive people in various roles since 2008. Becoming a birth worker was naturally the next step, he services the St.Thomas – London, Ontario area. Offering scaled to income labour & breastfeeding support, birth counselling and pregnancy options counselling. As a doula he provides support and comprehensive care throughout the full spectrum of pregnancy outcomes. His practice name is Options Doula Care and he can be reach via his website or by e-mailing email@example.com.
What inspired you to become a doula?
I have been supporting women and reproductive people since 2008. My interest in supporting women throughout the childbearing year led me to originally pursue midwifery as a career and calling. I attended the 2013 Birth and Beyond Conference in London, Ontario on an attendee scholarship. There I met many amazing women and yes, doulas. At the ‘An Evening with Ina May’ event I was fortunate enough to be able to ask her one question. I asked. “What is your advice for aspiring midwives?” she replied. “Become a Doula.” So I followed her advice and fell in love with the care and role of a ‘doula’.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Why do I identify as a ‘radical doula’? Well like the radical feminists before me reproductive rights have been at the forefront of advocacy. As a male embodied birth worker and intactivist, reproductive rights are at the forefront of my advocacy and beliefs.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
As a full-spectrum doula, I’ll advocate for whatever birth outcome the reproductive person chooses. A cesarean section, elective termination, homebirth, or an hospital birth with an epidural. Whether they choose parenting or adoption. I’ll be there to support them. I have a particular calling to serve marginalized populations such as LGBTQ1+, young mothers, immigrant women, survivors of abuse, and incarcerated folk. I offer my services on a sliding scale. One of my core beliefs is to have access to a doula no matter what one’s financial status.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favourite thing about being a doula is bearing witness. Being permitted to share and hold that space. Birth, all out comes. Not just what we frame as birth that is the live birth of babes. Is elemental, I find it the basic stuff of life. And it is such an honour to be invited to walk into that space.
If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would change birth shaming and care-provider competition. I find no place for either in birthing and reproductive spaces.