Sociological scholars of healthcare professions are becoming increasingly aware of the organisational dimension of professionalism, including how professionals as institutional actors are exposed to and influence organisational transformation. By tracing the ground-level professional efforts of Russian doulas—a caring profession that has been plunged into a reforming health system—in this article I explore how meaning-making activities and professionals’ emotional labour build into and advance institutional changes in post-socialist maternity care. Drawing on qualitative research materials, I define three ways through which doulas’ institutional efforts engage with emotions in clinical settings: (1) redefining emotional labour as a compound of maternity care; (2) grounding emotional labour in the context of reforming institutions; (3) using emotional labour to bridge discrepancies within organisational arrangements in healthcare. My research findings provide new insights into how marketisation influences professional care, as well as about caring professionalism in post-socialist maternity care. Attention to doulas’ professional efforts allows for the affective transformation and inequality in the context of healthcare reforms to be analytically grasped. In particular, I trace how doulas’ institutional agency embodied in emotional labour constructs the neo-liberal patient’s identity.