The experience of pregnancy and childbirth is different for everyone. However, everyone on this journey must make important decisions, and knowing where to go for information to make the right personal decisions isn't always easy.
At TD, we're committed to supporting our colleagues' health and well-being by offering a range of benefits and programs to support their various needs and preferences. This is also why TD is excited to announce that, starting Oct. 1, 2023, TD will offer reimbursement for doula services to colleagues and their covered dependents enrolled in a TD medical plan who are expecting the birth of a child.
Doulas are professionals trained in childbirth who can offer guidance and support for women during pregnancy, birth, and the days that follow the birth of a child.
“When we think about enhancing our benefits, we look to our colleagues first to understand their needs. We look at what is available in the market and think about how those offerings align with our culture of care. Doulas provide the support and guidance many of our colleagues want and need for their pregnancy and birthing experience," says Sheila Gleason, Head of U.S. Retirement, Benefits, and Well-being Strategy at TD Bank.
Doulas are now recognized as integral members of birth teams, often bridging the gap in care and reducing the risk of pregnancy complications. Research shows that having a doula as a member of the birth team can decrease the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, and requests for an epidural by 60%.
Even when women participated in the same education classes, the women who chose to work with a doula had better birth outcomes as measured by birth weight and fewer complications because they were able to make more informed choices.
TD is proud to be a leader in the financial services industry by offering this benefit to its colleagues through its partnership with Progyny, a premier family-building services provider that offers infertility, adoption, surrogacy and now pregnancy and birth benefits through the addition of a doula reimbursement. “Our suite of family building benefits is both industry-leading and comprehensive. There's an avenue for almost anyone to receive the support or services they need to build their families in the way they choose,” explains Sheila.
Eligible colleagues and their dependents are encouraged to find the right doula who matches with their goals and needs, including those with expertise in supporting members of the LGBTQ2+ community and black women who may have a higher risk of pregnancy-related health issues.
“This felt like the perfect pairing of doing the right thing for our colleagues and addressing any concerns or gaps, particularly in areas of social or racial inequities in the healthcare system,” says Sheila. “We want to be there for our colleagues, especially those who might not have as many resources available to them. Are they staying as healthy as they can? Are they getting the proper level of quality care? A doula can fill some of those gaps. It’s a priority for us to ensure that people are going through the pregnancy and child birth process and their pregnancy as healthy as possible.”
Support for the Whole Family
Nicole Snyder, a Project Management Professional and certified Organizational Change Manager at TD, shares real-life, positive experiences as a doula, a passion she developed and became certified in following her own personal experience with birth trauma.
Aside from safer deliveries, doulas offer physical and emotional support, which increases self-esteem and confidence and simultaneously decreases anxiety at a time that can be uncertain and stressful.
Nicole consults with the birthing parent before and after doctor appointments and empowers them to ask essential questions. During delivery, she describes each stage of the process to help the birthing parent navigate each new phase of childbirth "in a calm and approachable way, helping mothers make decisions in real time,” says Nicole.
She also works to ensure involved participants understand the birthing process and feel in tune with the birthing parent and what they are experiencing. “It’s hard for people to see their loved one in pain for long hours,” said Nicole. “I provide techniques so families can be hands on to bring them comfort, so they are able to do something to bring relief.”
A few days after the birth, Nicole reconvenes with the family. “We hear the perspective of everyone who was in the room, so the birth parent can bridge the gap in their memory, so they have a story to share with family, with their child, for years to come.”