Doula's Work, Public and Intimate: Professional Care, Self-Organization and Activism




doulas, professional care, ethics of care, authoritative knowledge, professional self-organization, reproductive justice


Doulas are a new professional group whose task is to provide physical, emotional and informational support to women during the perinatal period (before, during and after childbirth). Doulas appeared in Russia quite recently, about 10 years ago, but they have already managed to achieve recognition as independent perinatal specialists. Treating doulas as a new caring profession places us at the very center of the current debate about the ways of conceptualizing care and the status of professional groups providing emotionally involved care, initiated by the feminist scholars who criticized the neo-Weberian understanding of profession. The article examines such contradictory features of a doula professional project as: pronounced professional identity and professional self-organization (training, certification, professional associations) in the absence of the official status; appeal to medical knowledge in the absence of medical education; a combination of intimate work and activism. The research is based on the field materials, primarily, on the in-depth interviews with the representatives of the Russian doula community.

Acknowledgment: The article was prepared within the framework of a grant provided by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation (Grant Agreement No. 075-15-2020-910).

Author Biography

Anna A. Ozhiganova, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences

  • Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Hist.), Senior Researcher at Center of Medical Anthropology