Oula, backed by Chelsea Clinton, banks $28M to build out maternity care clinics

Oula, a maternity center that combines obstetrics with midwifery, clinched $28 million in series B funding to open new clinics and offer more services.

Oula plans to use the funding to open more maternity care clinics beyond New York City, using its technology-enabled and hybrid care approach, and launch new services for those in their reproductive years, the company said.

The startup has raised $50 million to date. The series B round was co-led by Revolution Ventures and Maverick Ventures with participation from GV and existing investors including the Female Founders Fund, 8VC, Alumni Ventures and Great Oaks.

Oula co-founders Adrianne Nickerson and Elaine Purcell launched the startup in 2019 with the idea of building a maternity clinic around a collaborative care model.

In October 2020, the startup raised $3.2 million in seed funding led by the Collaborative Fund. Female Founders Fund, 8VC, Chelsea Clinton's fund, Metrodora, Kapor Capital, Rock Health, January Ventures and Great Oaks along with prominent healthcare operators including Tom Lee, founder of One Medical, and Kate Ryder, founder and CEO of Maven Clinic, participated in the round. The startup raised $19 million in a series A round in January 2023.

Offering a hybrid of in-person clinic care and virtual care, Oula has offices in Brooklyn and Manhattan and plans to open a third in Morningside Heights in partnership with Mount Sinai West later this year. 

Oula waiting room at Brooklyn clinic
Oula designed prenatal clinics that are warm, state-of-the-art and welcoming, the company said. (Oula)

The foundation behind Oula is that most of the pregnancy’s physical and mental care takes place between provider visits, so the platform allows expectant mothers to easily reach out to the medical team. The platform can also offer telehealth appointments for more than half of the regularly scheduled prenatal visits.

Instead of waiting for the standard eight-week ultrasound, Oula allows patients to book an appointment as soon as their positive pregnancy test. The startup's care model also supports patients in the postpartum period with weekly "postpartum office hours." Oula also plans to announce preconception coaching visits and expanded miscarriage support options in the coming year. 

Oula contends that it outperforms benchmarks on patient experience and outcomes. In comparison to NYC benchmarks, Oula has consistently outperformed on patient outcomes and experiences across 1,500 births through their collaborative care model, delivering a 26% better cesarean section rate versus NYC benchmarks, a 61% lower preterm birth rate and a 50% better low birth weight rate, all while maintaining a net promoter score rating for patient experience above 90, according to the company's data.

"The power of Oula's collaborative care approach to care is that patients feel seen and heard during a transformative moment in their lives, health systems are able to address the evolving expectations of their communities, and we can move the needle on unacceptable outcomes and disparities in maternal care," said Nickerson, CEO and co-founder of Oula, in a statement.

“We’ve not only proven that this model works, but that it’s what patients from all backgrounds, birth preferences, and income levels are looking for,” said Purcell, chief operating officer and co-founder of Oula, in a statement. “Whether you can afford concierge care or are on Medicaid, we are building a modern and compassionate pregnancy care model that delivers better outcomes than the system has proven to do."

There is an enormous market opportunity to rebuild the patient experience for maternity care, according to Oula's co-founders.

The U.S. maternity care system is designed to serve high-risk pregnancies, and studies show that a one-size-fits-all approach that treats every pregnancy as high-risk can lead to more interventions and leave some patients without the services they need.

According to the Listening to Mothers Survey, 74% of women say they want a less medicalized approach to birth, up from 45% in 2002. Research shows that midwifery-led care leads to lower rates of preterm birth, 30% to 40% lower C-section birth rates and rates of vaginal birth after C-section that are nearly twice as high. They also drive a 3x improvement in patient satisfaction with maternity care. A number of state-based regulations impose logistical requirements that make it difficult for midwives to practice—and insurers don’t always cover prenatal and postpartum midwifery care. 

Oula contends that its providers can spend twice as much time with patients as obstetricians do. Also, the company's care model allows pregnant individuals to deliver at a hospital with a midwifery approach, which includes access to a variety of pain management options including epidurals and nitrous oxide.

Oula’s services fill additional gaps including early pregnancy care and postpartum care, group education classes, postpartum office hours and dedicated spaces for BIPOC parents and families. 

The provider takes most major insurances, including Medicaid. One in 5 Oula patients relies on Medicaid, 54% of patients identify as nonwhite or Hispanic, and 1 in 10 patients are LGBTQ+.

“Pregnancy outcomes in the U.S. have consistently deteriorated over the past two decades. Oula is solving this mounting crisis by reimagining the maternal experience with midwifery-first, team-based care supported by virtual wrap-around services and a tech-enabled platform. We’re excited to partner with the team as Oula scales its care model and empowers women to receive personalized, trusted support throughout pregnancy,” said Clara Sieg, partner and founder member at Revolution Ventures.