Noelle Acosta: Addressing Racial Inequalities in Maternal Health
Hi folks! I’m Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth, back with a new guest. Noelle Acosta, the founder and CEO of Noula, is committed to making a difference in women's maternal health and well-being. Let’s see how she’s doing it!
Spiffy: Welcome, Noelle. What challenge is Noula addressing?
Noelle: Thank you for having me, Spiffy! Did you know that despite being one of the most developed countries, the United States has the worst maternal mortality rates when compared to others and that women of color are disproportionately impacted by these numbers? Noula is on a mission to close the maternal health gap for good.
Spiffy: I did not know that. Was it the reason you were motivated to start Noula?
Noelle: Well, after navigating my own reproductive health struggles as a Latina/Asian woman for over five months, I found myself feeling lost, uninformed, and ignored. As someone who had terrific employer-sponsored health insurance, I was frustrated with the system. I could not imagine what women who look like me—and don’t have the same access or resources available—go through.
Spiffy: How are you and your company working towards a more equitable world?
Noelle: We are addressing racial disparities in maternal care head-on by centering the foundation of our approach around accessibility, affordability, and cultural competency. We are the first to recognize Latinx birthing parents by offering support and guidance in Spanish. Noula is paving the way for more equitable maternal health for all.
Spiffy: That’s fantastic! Is there a recent company milestone you’d like to share, along with its impact on your mission?
Noelle: We've spoken to over 200 women and birthing parents. Their stories have confirmed that prenatal care needs to be personalized! No two motherhood journeys are alike. Their stories have a direct influence on our product roadmap and, in turn, have an impact on how we will change the lives of so many.
Spiffy: Next, can you share an experience of facing failure and not giving up? What did you learn from it?
Noelle: After suffering a seizure right before launching a private beta, I was unable to drive. Shortly after I was released from the hospital, I biked around the hills of San Francisco every weekend, handing out flyers to promote Noula's beta. I learned that your intrinsic motivation and passion will always shine a light on the path forward.
Spiffy: Wow, talk about inner strength! Before we conclude today’s interview, what is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
Noelle: Two of my best friends gave birth last year. As one of the babies becomes more curious to use her legs and explore the world, she falls a lot but always gets right back up to try again. Sometimes life will knock you down but nevertheless, we persist. We get up and try again!
Spiffy: Wise words! Thank you so much for talking with us today, Noelle, it’s been an honor!
Noelle Acosta is proudly of Mexican and Filipino descent and the founder and CEO of Noula. She is passionate about health equity and access and is on a mission to pave the way for better births for all. (Nominated by Visible Hands. First published on the Ladderworks website on November 17, 2021)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.