Walmart expands doula services for associates nationwide

Walmart, which introduced doula services for its associates as part of a pilot program in Georgia, Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois, is now offering the services to associates nationwide.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
Levy
doula
doula

Walmart is increasing access to healthcare options for maternity care services for associates nationwide, according to a post on the company’s website by Lisa Wood, vice president of physical and emotional well-being at Walmart.

“We know one of the most important times in our associates’ lives is when they make the decision to grow their families," Wood said. "When our associates make this decision, we want to ensure they have access to quality healthcare options and feel supported during this exciting, yet sometimes stressful, time in life. However, we know more than 5.6 million women live in counties with no or limited access to maternity care services, according to the March of Dimes, and that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to access maternity care in many areas of the country.”

Over the past two years, Walmart introduced doula services for its associates as part of a pilot program in four states — Georgia, Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois — providing access to affordable and equitable health care aimed at improved maternal and infant health.

“Today, we’re pleased to announce the expansion of our doula services benefit nationwide. Doulas are experts who are trained to support mothers leading up to and throughout the labor and delivery process, and must be credentialed through either DONA International or the National Black Doulas Association," Wood said, noting that doula services are proven to have a positive impact on the well-being of both mother and child, from reduced cesarean sections, premature deliveries and labor length to general mental well-being, reducing anxiety and stress.

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Pointing out that doulas are especially important in healthcare deserts where access to the right care may be limited, Wood noted that according to the NBDA, having a doula as part of a birthing team can decrease cesarean sections by 50%, shorten the time of labor by 25%, and decrease the need for other medical interventions by well over 50%.

Jillian Bowman, an hourly associate who works as an Optician at Walmart Store 2753 in Clayton, Ga., used the doula services as part of Walmart's pilot during and after the birth of her first child, Beckett.

"I cannot express just how invaluable it was to have a doula. Not only did I feel so much better prepared for labor, but having the doula there during the birthing process was key to having the natural delivery I had hoped and prayed for. It was my first baby, he weighed 9 pounds and 12 ounces – I have no doubt that without the doula there to assist, coach and advocate for me, I would have ended up with a cesarean section," Bowman said.

The doula benefit covers up to $1,000 for doula services during pregnancy and is part of a suite of benefits offered through Walmart's Life with Baby program, which is available to associates on most of the Walmart medical plans. Life with Baby provides access at no cost to resources like tools to track daily progress, helpful articles from leading experts, special baby gifts and more.

Walmart is continuing to help eligible associates access Walmart’s surrogacy and adoption benefits, including financial support of up to $20,000 in their lifetime, for qualified surrogacy and adoption expenses, Wood noted.

Walmart benefits also include paid leave for full-time hourly and salaried associates that allows birth moms to receive up to 16 weeks of paid time off. New parents, including adoptive and foster parents, also receive six weeks paid parental leave to bond with a new child. Just last year, more than 32,000 Walmart parents took advantage of our maternity and parental leaves and adoption benefits.

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"We are always looking for ways to evolve our family building benefits and by expanding coverage for doula services nationwide, we hope that all our associates and their families feel supported during these major life milestones," Wood concluded.

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