Walmart is expanding doula services to its associates that are covered under one of its medical plans.
Following the addition of doula services for associates in Georgia who are enrolled in a medical plan, Walmart Inc. is expanding the benefit to employees in Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois. Walmart will cover up to $1,000 for doula services during pregnancy.
“The birth of a child, and the time leading up to this incredible moment, can be filled with wonder, excitement, uncertainty and even stress,” wrote Lisa Woods, Walmart’s VP of physical and emotional well-being, in a company blog post. “We want to help make this extraordinary time for our associates and their families as special and positive as possible.”
Doulas are trained to help support mothers throughout the labor process and delivery of the child through communication facilitation, emotion and physical support. Though doulas are not medical professionals, they must be credentialed.
“According to the National Black Doulas Association (NBDA), having a doula as a part of a birthing team decreases C-sections by 50%, shortens the time of labor by 25% and decreases the need for other medical interventions by well over 50%,” Woods wrote in the blog post, adding that the services would be especially beneficial to associates in the four states where they’re offered.
“For example, in Louisiana, the mortality rate is four times higher for Black mothers than it is white mothers,” Woods continued. “In Indiana, an astounding 33 counties have no OB-GYN services. And in Illinois, an average of 75 women die within 12 months of pregnancy each year. Our 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.”
This is the latest in a series of moves by Walmart to help its associates live better lives. The retailer is growing its College2Career program and has also shared details about multiple career pathway initiatives. Walmart also launched a program to spread awareness among its associates about mental health issues and to teach them the skills necessary to aid or even save a life.
Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.