- Walmart associates in Louisiana, Indiana, and Illinois now have doula healthcare coverage.
- Offering the coverage is part of Walmart's commitment to advancing maternal health equity.
- The doula service coverage was first launched last June for associates in Georgia.
Walmart associates in Louisiana, Indiana, and Illinois now have healthcare coverage for doula services during pregnancy for up to $1,000 per pregnancy.
Walmart is offering the doula service coverage as part of its commitment to improving maternal and infant health, Lisa Woods, vice president of physical and emotional well-being at Walmart, and Warren Moore, vice president of social determinants of health at Walmart, said in a statement.
Last June, Walmart launched the doula services coverage for the first time for associates in Georgia. Doulas are credentialed experts trained to support pregnant people during the labor and delivery processes.
The benefit is part of Walmart's Life with Baby program, that gives Walmart associates on Walmart's medical plan access to resources, like one-on-one coaching from a nurse and baby gifts, at no cost.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three times more likely than white women to die from a pregnancy-related cause. Disparities in the quality of healthcare received, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias are all factors that contribute to this, the CDC said.
Having a doula's help during birth decreases C-sections by 50%, shortens the time of labor by 25%, and decreases the need for other medical interventions by over 50%, according to the National Black Doulas Association.
Walmart said it chose to expand the doula benefit to Louisiana, Indiana, and Illinois, in particular, because there's potential to have "instant impact" for its associates living in those states.
In Louisiana, Walmart said the maternal mortality rate for Black women is four times higher than for white mothers. In Indiana, the company said 33 counties have no OB-GYN services. And an average of 75 women die within 12 months of pregnancy each year in Illinois.
"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," Walmart said.
Walmart joins other major companies, like CVS Health and Microsoft, in offering coverage for doula care.