Walmart is expanding benefits under its associate medical plan to cover doulas – up to $1,000 per pregnancy – for the company’s employees in the state of Georgia, according to a blog post by Lisa Woods, Walmart’s VP, physical and emotional well-being.
Doulas are non-medical professionals who provide both physical and emotional support for women and their partners throughout a pregnancy. Their services include educating expectant moms on what to anticipate during delivery; offering information and assistance with physical comfort during childbirth, such as breathing techniques and touch therapy; facilitating communication between the expectant mother and the medical care team; helping the expectant mom prepare for feeding and caring for a baby. For women at higher risk of pregnancy complications, doulas can help to decrease time spent in labor, lower the incidence of c-section births and improve the overall birthing experience.
In the United States, however, doulas are often not considered an essential health service, and so are, in many cases, paid for by parents-to-be entirely out of pocket.
Explaining why the services are launching in the Peach State, Woods wrote: “We’re starting where we believe we can leverage our network of health care resources to create immediate positive impact in supporting healthy pregnancies. Providing these benefits to our associates in Georgia is one of the many ways Walmart is innovating solutions that make health care more affordable and equitable.”
The doula benefit will be added to Walmart’s Life with Baby program, which is available to associates on the Walmart medical plans and provides access at no cost to resources such as one-on-one coaching from a nurse, tools to track daily progress, articles from experts, special baby gifts, to name just a few features. Under Walmart’s plan, the doula must be credentialed through either Chicago-based DONA International or the Suwanee, Ga.-based National Black Doula Association. The company also supports new mothers with up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave for eligible U.S. associates and provides a $5,000 cost reimbursement benefit to associates who adopt a child.
“We believe that all mothers and children deserve an opportunity to thrive at the start of and throughout their life journey and not be negatively impacted by access to prenatal and postpartum care,” noted Woods. “We are committed to helping our associates have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, and offering a strong suite of maternity benefits is among the critical ways we can support our associates and their families during pregnancy and beyond. Whether it be critical care, or simply the comfort of additional support, I’m incredibly proud of this new, innovative offering and the work being done across our business to continue to support our associates throughout life’s most special moments.”
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates about 10,500 stores and clubs under 48 banners in 24 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam’s Club ranks No. 9 on the list.