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Spring 2021

Publication Title

Anthropology in Action

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Birth doulas provide non-medical intimate support to pregnant people and their families. This support starts at the very foundation of life – breath. Doulas remind, encourage and accompany people through labour by breathing with them. However, the global COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted doulas’ intimate work, and they are forced to navigate new restrictions surrounding birth practices. Based on data collected from a qualitative survey of over five-hundred doulas as well as subsequent follow-up interviews with select doulas, we find intimacy at births disrupted and reshaped. We suggest that an analysis of doulas provides a unique way to think through the complexities surrounding reproduction precisely due to doulas’ ability to navigate intimate labour between and across boundaries.


Originally published by Berghahn Books under a Creative Commons 4.0 in Anthropology in Action , Spring 2021. The original article can be found here.