Approximately one-third of New Mexico counties are considered “maternity care deserts”. According to 2020 data from the March of Dimes, such counties lack a hospital or birthing center offering obstetric care for families.

Couple that with language and cultural barriers and it exacerbates the intimate -and often medically delicate- process of labor and delivery for low-income families in the state.

The New Mexico Doula Association is on a mission to bridge the gaps families face when it comes to perinatal care. Doulas are different from midwives in that they do not give medical guidance or advice. Rather, they act as an advocate for the family, ensuring that mother and baby are healthy through prenatal development and that birthing plans are in place for the big day.

However, the work often goes underfunded, leaving many doulas struggling financially. That’s where UnitedHealthcare has stepped in to help.

The company recently awarded a grant to the Doula Association to help fund more staff, reaching all the way from Las Cruces to Farmington. Melissa Marie Lopez, executive director for the Doula Association, says that they hope to extend their staff from eight doulas to 20 by years’ end.

This means more families served, more potential life-threatening conditions thwarted, and more successful and healthy babies delivered.

To find out what UnitedHealthcare is doing in New Mexico to help other organizations, visit