Walmart Inc.'s medical plan for employees now gives its pregnant workers in Georgia up to $1,000 for doula care.
A doula is "a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and information support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth," according to certifying organization DONA International. Doulas may also be certified through the National Black Doula Association.
The insurance benefit pays up to $1,000 per pregnancy.
Lisa Woods, Walmart's vice president of physical and emotional well-being, said the company is starting the benefit in Georgia because that's where "we believe we can leverage our network of health care resources to create immediate positive impact in supporting healthy pregnancies."
Doulas can help decrease the number of cesarean sections, shorten the time spent in labor and help improve the overall birthing experience, Woods said.
The maternal mortality rate in Georgia is twice the national rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Black mothers are twice as likely to die as white mothers in the state.