Walmart is expanding benefits under its medical plan to include coverage for associates in Georgia receiving doula services.
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.
According to Walmart, it is starting this program in Georgia because it believes it can leverage its network of health care resources to create immediate positive impact in supporting healthy pregnancies there. Walmart operates five Walmart Health facilities across Georgia, the most it has in any state.
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.
The doula benefit will be added to Walmart’s Life with Baby program. This program is available to associates on the Walmart medical plans and 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, and special baby gifts. In the U.S., doulas are often not considered an essential health service, and are paid for in many cases entirely out of pocket.
“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,” Lisa Woods, VP, physical & emotional well-being, Walmart, said in a corporate blog post. “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. 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.”