Oula Hybrid Maternity Clinic announced Thursday that it has secured $19.1 million in Series A funding that will allow the company to scale its full-service pregnancy care.
Based in New York Oula was founded by Adrianne Nickerson and Elaine Purcell in 2021 while both were pregnant. The company provides obstetrics and gynecology services, whether it is prenatal care, birth or postnatal care. It also offers pregnancy and birth education, virtual coaching, community events and an app for support between appointments. Oula has two clinics located in New York and is in network with most major insurance providers, including UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna. He also accepts Medicaid.
“At Oula, we are doing a redesign [maternity care] by bringing together the best of obstetrics and gynecology to create a much more personalized, evidence-based approach to care,” Nickerson, Oula’s CEO, said in an interview. “Then we add technology on top of that to drive accessibility and convenience in care, and finally we infuse the community.”
The funding round was led by 8VC and included contributions from the Chelsea Clinton Foundation, Metrodora; on Fund for Women Founders; Mutual fund; and Alum Enterprises. In total, Oula has raised $22.3 million.
8VC chose to invest in Oula because of the extreme growth it has experienced since opening in 2021, signaling the need for maternity care, said Kimmy Scotti, 8VC founding partner. Three months after opening its location, the company reached full capacity, prompting Oula to open its second location and double its employee base.
“Oula’s growth sends a simple but unmistakable message: maternity care can and must be better,” Scotti said in a news release. “Oula’s transformative approach is not only refreshing – it’s desperately needed.”
With the funding, the company is looking to grow in two ways, Nickerson said. It plans to expand its services by adding in-house sonography and mental health care. It will also work to grow its New York market to meet demand. Oula hopes to expand nationally in the future, but that’s not a major focus for the company right now, said Purcell, the company’s chief operating officer.
“With 125,000 births in New York, that’s a big market share to aim for,” Purcell said. “We feel like there are a lot more pregnancies we can impact here, but we definitely have plans to go national.”
News of Oula’s funding comes at a time when maternal mortality is on the rise in the US. In 2020, the maternal mortality rate was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 births in the US, exceeding other high-income countries, according to Commonwealth Fund. For black women in the US, the rate is 55.3 deaths per 100,000 births, nearly three times the maternal mortality rate for white women. A big part of that is the lack of access to midwives, who are licensed and board-certified physicians with experience in low-risk pregnancies, but often charge a lower rate than doctors, Purcell claims. This is what Oula is trying to change through its collaborative model that combines midwifery and midwifery.
“If you look at other countries that have, frankly, much better maternal health statistics like the UK, the Netherlands, etc., there’s really widespread use of midwives and really great access to them,” Purcell said. “In the United States … there are simply no good mechanisms for paying midwives. Part of what Oula is trying to do is make sure we get paid for that really high-quality care.”