The birth of a child, and the time leading up to this incredible moment, can be filled with wonder, excitement, uncertainty and even stress. We want to help make this extraordinary time for our associates and their families as special and positive as possible.
As part of our commitment to improve maternal and infant health, Walmart added doula services last year for associates in Georgiaenrolled in a medical plan. This year, we're expanding this benefit beyond Georgia to three additional states: Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois.
This benefit covers up to $1,000 for doula services during pregnancy and is part of a suite of benefits offered through our 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. The goal is to help make the process of welcoming a new child easier, safer and less stressful.
What is a doula?
Doulas are experts trained to help support mothers throughout the labor process and delivery of the child. While not medical professionals, they must be credentialed through either DONA International or the National Black Doula Association.
Doulas can positively impact the wellbeing of the family and make the birthing experience easier. Examples of services a doula provides include:
Educating the expectant mother on what to anticipate during delivery
Focusing on 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
Aiding the expectant mother to prepare for feeding and caring for the baby
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%.Tracie Collins, NBDA CEO and founder, said, "Doulas provide physical, emotional and informational support to the birthing family. They serve as liaisons between medical professionals and the family, which helps to ultimately cultivate healthy birth outcomes."
We've chosen to expand the doula benefit to these three states in particular because we see potential to have an instant impact for our associates who live there.
For example, in Louisiana, the mortality rate is four times higher for Black mothers than it is white mothers. 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.
"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. "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."
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.