Partner-Accompanied and Individual Care Providers in the Setting of COVID-19 Pandemic: Power Decisions, Practices and Discourses
The article analyzes field materials and regulatory documents representing childbirth with support of a partner, individual midwife and doula accompaniment since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as strategies for interaction of patients, their families and personal assistants with maternity hospitals in the context of anti-epidemic restrictions of the Rospotrebnadzor and recommendations of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. In larger Russian cities, the possibility of extraterritorial choice of an obstetric hospital has been limited. Physicians are forced to act on the basis of the presumption of COVID-positive status in pregnant women, women in labor, infants and other caregivers. In maternity hospitals, the practice of family- / partner- and doula-provided assistance was temporarily suspended, and physical separation of the mother from the newborn was recommended, including that in children’s intensive care. However, the conspiracy and eschatological discourses of the lay people and the academic establishment, fears of asceticism and of “canceling thy neighbor,” a return to “bare life,” the supremacy of biopower, loss of rituals of childbirth and funeral were overcome by individual specialists and practices of continuing life itself. Epidemic-control restrictions forced them to transfer interactions with women into forms uncontrollable and invisible to the state and provide support for home births, online support in maternity hospitals, (un)paid prenatal and postnatal counseling and rehabilitation.