Photo: Walmart / Courtesy
Walmart announced that it will extend the benefit of doula or women who assist in childbirth to its associates enrolled in the medical plan in Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois. The retailer had already added this service last year in Georgia, as part of its commitment to improve the maternal and child health of its workers.
The benefit covers up to $1,000 for doula services during pregnancy and is part of a set of benefits offered through the “Life with Baby” program.which is available to associates in a Walmart medical plan.
Walmart notes that “Life with Baby” provides free access to resources such as personalized advice from a nurse, tools to track daily progresshelpful articles from leading experts, special baby gifts, and that are all about helping make the process of welcoming a new baby easier, safer, and less stressful.
What is a doula?
Doulas are experts trained to help mothers throughout the labor and delivery process.. While they are not medical professionals, they must be credentialed through DONA International or the National Black Doula Association.
Doulas can have a positive impact on the well-being of the family and facilitate the childbirth experience. Among its services are:
– Educate the mother-to-be on what to expect during labor
– Focus on the emotional support and encouragement
– Provide information and assistance with physical comfort during labor, such as breathing techniques and touch therapy
– Help facilitate the communication between expectant mother and health care team
– Help the mother-to-be to prepare to feed and care for the baby
According to the National Black Doulas Association (NBDA), having a doula as part of the birthing team reduces cesarean sections by 50%, shortens labor time by 25% and reduces the need for other medical interventions by more than 50%.
Walmart notes that they have chosen to expand the doula benefit to these three states because of the potential impact it means for associates who live there.
For example, in Louisiana, the mortality rate is four times higher for African-American mothers than for white mothers. In Indiana, 33 counties do not have OB/GYN services. And in Illinois, an average of 75 women die within 12 months of pregnancy each year.
According to the retailer, the goal of expanding the doula benefit is offer a service that is not normally covered by traditional health plansis not only to make pregnancy easier for mothers in these states, but to help keep them safe.
“I am very passionate about my son’s birth story and my doula, Imani from Rebyrth Wellness, made all the difference”said Khadija Franklin, a Walmart associate from Marietta, Georgia. “The doula benefit was an amazing bonus last year! Imani helped prepare me physically and mentally for a moment I will remember forever.”
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