Nonprofit EveryStep begins offering its employees doula services reimbursement

Published by Nicole Grundmeier on

One of EveryStep’s doulas, Jazzmine Brooks, and her client Morghan. Submitted photo


Pregnant employees working for EveryStep Care & Support Services now have access to potentially lifesaving pregnancy care on behalf of their employer.

The Des Moines-based nonprofit, which provides care for Iowans at various stages of their lives through multiple services, recently implemented a doula reimbursement policy for pregnant employees or their pregnant partners. Employees who have worked for the company for at least one year are eligible for up to $1,000 in doula services reimbursement.


“We provide culturally competent and linguistically competent doula services for our clients, and we’ve seen that having a doula be that support and resource has really made a difference with positive outcomes,” said Jen Groves, EveryStep vice president of community health services. “We realized as an employer, we want our employees to get the very best care, too.”

The policy requires employees, who are either pregnant or have a pregnant partner, to use a certified doula, who will receive the payments directly from EveryStep.

Doula care makes a considerable difference in outcomes for pregnant people, especially as maternal mortality rates rise across the country, studies have found. As of 2021, Iowa’s maternal mortality rate reached 20.2 deaths per 100,000 births, and the rates are even worse for people of color — Black women are six times more likely to die during or after childbirth than white women.


Becky Borgman, EveryStep’s maternal child health director, explained that doulas are specifically trained in supporting and advocating for their pregnant clients as they navigate the pregnancy journey. They provide education about caring for themselves during pregnancy, what to expect during labor, and how to adjust to a new life with a child.

“They provide a more holistic model of care for the pregnant individuals,” Borgman said.

The support, education and advocacy of a doula can ease some of the stress and anxiety of the birthing experience, resulting in more positive deliveries. Doula care can reduce cesarean section rates, shorten labor times and prevent complications such as hemorrhaging or hysterectomies, according to the March of Dimes.

“Doulas empower the client to feel confident and comfortable,” Borgman said.

Doula care extends past the birth and helps parents navigate and embrace the big changes coming their way. EveryStep hopes providing this benefit will help employees with the transition to life with a new child.

Those challenges aren’t always easy to navigate.

“We want to make sure employees are feeling not only supported in whatever decisions they make for their birthing experience, but when they come back to work. We want to make sure the workplace is one that is supportive and that the human coming back to work is the most comfortable and healthy and ready they can be to take on that challenge of being a working parent,” Groves said.

Providing this benefit also allows EveryStep to address the inequities that exist in accessing doula care. Hiring a doula is historically expensive and not an option for many pregnant people. As they work to break down barriers to quality, comprehensive health care for their clients, they are taking on the responsibility to break down those barriers for employees, too.

“We want to make sure that we’re encouraging folks in all aspects of their lives to make sure that they’re healthy,” Groves said. “We want to walk the walk when we talk about the importance of what we’re doing in our work. We want everyone to have access to these benefits.”

Because the benefit is still relatively new, the organization hasn’t been able to collect data on its impact. But it has become a point of public health education for EveryStep’s employees. They’re learning more about the importance of doulas and how they can prevent adverse health outcomes.

They also hope to be an example to other businesses to show how they can support their pregnant employees and improve the state of public health.

“We want to tell other employers, ‘You can do this, too,’” Groves said. “And employees, you can ask for this. If you are a part of a marginalized population that has health disparities based on race, gender, orientation or linguistic differences, these services are available. Anyone can reach out to EveryStep if there’s anything you need support with.”

Macey Shofroth is a writer based in Norwalk. She works as a marketing coordinator for CultureALL, a nonprofit boosting inclusion in Iowa, and produces a Substack Newsletter called “The Midwest Creative.”