Walmart is covering doula services for more employees.
Walmart is following up on a pilot that provides coverage for associates receiving doula services.
The discount titan is expanding benefits under its medical plan to include doula coverage for associates in three states - Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois. Walmart initially began offering coverage for associates in Georgia receiving doula services in June 2021.
The new benefit will provide up to $1,000 for doula expense coverage in Georgia. Doulas are non-medical professionals who provide both physical and emotional support to pregnant women and their partners throughout the pregnancy. The doula must be credentialed through either DONA International or the National Black Doula Association.
Doula services include educating the expectant mother on what to anticipate during delivery; emotional support and encouragement; providing information and assistance with physical comfort during childbirth, such as breathing techniques and touch therapy; helping to facilitate communication between the expectant mother and the medical care team; and aiding the expectant mother to prepare for feeding and caring for the baby.
Doula services coverage is part of a suite of benefits offered through the retailer’s Life with Baby program, which is available to associates on a Walmart medical plan. Life with Baby provides access at no cost to resources like one-on-one coaching from a nurse, tools to track daily progress, helpful articles from leading experts, special baby gifts and more. According to Walmart, the goal is to help make the process of welcoming a new child easier, safer and less stressful.
Walmart says its goal in expanding this doula benefit, a service that is not normally covered under traditional medical plans, is not only to make pregnancy easier for mothers in these states, but to help keep them safe. In the U.S., doulas are often not considered an essential health service, and are paid for in many cases entirely out of pocket.
“I am so passionate about my son’s birth story and my doula, Imani from Rebyrth Wellness, made all the difference,” said Khadija Franklin, Walmart associate from Marietta, Georgia, said in a corporate blog post. “The doula benefit was an incredible bonus last year! Imani helped me prepare physically and mentally for a moment that I will remember forever.” She added, “Having a doula should not be a luxury, it is a necessity for every woman to have an advocate to allow her to have the smoothest birth experience possible.”
“The birth of a child, and the time leading up to this incredible moment, can be filled with wonder, excitement, uncertainty and even stress,” Lisa Woods, VP, physical and emotional well-being, and Warren Moore, VP, social determinants of health, Walmart, said in the blog post. “We want to help make this extraordinary time for our associates and their families as special and positive as possible.We care about making a difference for associates – giving them real benefits that they can use to have a meaningful impact on their lives and the people closest to them. We want to see our associate families thrive and we hope this benefit helps make a positive difference for them from the very start.”