Founded on the belief that all families deserve comprehensive, whole-person care that supports their mental, physical, and emotional health needs, Partum Health is a company on a mission to change care for growing families by bringing more joy, better health, and less stress.

There are a lot of things you might need on the perinatal journey—physical therapy, acupuncture, a mental health counselor, a doula, or a lactation consultant.

During her pregnancy and postpartum, kozēkozē founder and CEO, Garrett Kusmierz, felt like she operated a small business not only trying to bring together all of these different resources, but also knowing when to use them and how much they cost.

Partum really puts that all in one place for you. They have client care leads that will take you through the journey and provide guidance around things like budget, values, and insurance coverage.

With Partum Health, you can access the perfect combination of birth and postpartum doulas, mental health providers, lactation consultants, physical therapists, night nannies and more—all in one place, all designed around you. It’s a one-stop shop for everything you need along the perinatal journey, and currently serves patients in Chicago and Houston.

We all need to know what our options are and to have resources to feel empowered—and that’s exactly what Partum Health provides.

Learn more by diving into our Q&A with Partum Health co-founder and CEO, Meghan Doyle.

Q: When and why did you begin to care about the perinatal journey?

A: For me, the connection to this topic and how to improve the maternal and family journey started more with an interest in how to ensure women were being treated fairly. I think that has always been a background thread—to my days in elementary school on the math team when I was the only girl. I’ve always stayed engaged in professional settings, spending a long time in consulting and being involved in and very supportive of women at BCG. But I think the process of becoming a mom is what opened my eyes to a major life stage and transition that does impact so much of our health, our well being, our career—all of it.

I’m squeamish around blood, so medical was never my trajectory. But I did get interested in healthcare—that’s how I spent most of my time in consulting—because I was in the front row as a support member for my brother who went through a long cancer journey. It’s interesting thinking about this thing that matters so much when you need healthcare or need to find the right specialist or access the right clinical trial—and our system just makes it really hard to do that. That happened in my life at a time when I was graduating from business school and joining a consulting firm, so it was the perfect opportunity to raise my hand and say throw me into healthcare.

That’s how I learned this side of things on the professional end—the messy ecosystem we have around payment flows and insurance and accessing care. Then, to experience it once I got pregnant, I began to realize that so many of these things and challenges exist when it comes to navigating the maternal journey and paralleled things that I saw on my brother’s cancer journey—obviously different and not the same high-stakes, life-threatening issue, but it is. I’ve seen some statistics that mention that childbirth and pregnancy is one of the most dangerous things that statistically a woman will do in her lifetime.

So, when I went through that experience, it reignited the desire to think about ways that we can make healthcare work better for people and to do it in this context where I knew it was furthering things for women and families. It just felt like it was bringing all of those personal connections together for me.

Q: Did you ever have an inkling that you wanted to be a founder and that you were going to start something?

A: I didn’t. I think everybody comes to this journey from different places. I had been more focused on the problem I wanted to solve. I had this idea that was based a little bit on my own experience, but also on the data around maternal health outcomes and the realization that your physician is just one resource. The reality is that we put so much burden on physicians, especially on this maternal care journey where you have one doctor usually, and that doctor doesn’t have the appropriate time to be your full educational resource. They’re not compensated to spend 45 minutes with you. That’s not how reimbursement works. I think it puts a tremendous burden on physicians to be that one resource, and it’s just a mismatch between what we have in the system and what they’re compensated and scoped to do.

So I cared really about the problem, and I had a specific idea around how to get access to a broader set of support and how to infuse more of that education into the journey for patients. I just didn’t see anything doing what seemed like an obvious answer to me—or part of the answer, I should say.

So that’s really how I ended up becoming a founder. There was a problem I wanted to work on and there wasn’t anyone in Chicago at the time doing anything like it. There were a handful of early-stage startups, most of whom I didn’t know existed because they were so small. The only exception was Maven, but has a slightly different model and was very employer-focused at the time.

So that was kind of how I did it. There was this thing I wanted to crack and make work better for mothers and for families and parents and birthing people. It wasn’t like I wanted to be a founder. The ideal state would be employee number ten. But honestly, I love it. It’s the most fun job.

Q: What service did you start with and how did you think about that strategically?

A: I think access to and affordability of care is such a huge issue, and it’s a major driver to the norm today of people not getting preventive care. It’s largely because you take this mindset of, “Well, if I have to pay for it, how do I know if I’m really going to need it?” So it ends up creating this system where people often forego care that has been shown to improve outcomes.

With Partum, our aspiration from the beginning was to help folks get as much care covered as possible. So, very early, we started working with doulas—both birth and postpartum—which is largely an out-of-pocket expense. That has pretty much continued to be the case today, although we are hopefully going to see the state of Illinois start to reimburse doula care for Medicaid recipients this calendar year. We are still waiting to see that actually totally get implemented, but the legislation has passed, the funding is there, and the program is taking shape from what we understand. That’s now happening in about a dozen states.

That’s an important piece to acknowledge. Even though we are trying to build with tentacles into the existing healthcare system, there are still pieces that today are largely inaccessible for a wide swath of birthing people even though we have really good evidence that says it improves outcomes for things like perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, avoiding c-sections when possible, and a myriad of other things 

But some of the other side of it—more of the clinical services—that’s where we knew from the beginning. At the time, there were some out-of-pocket models doing more of a concierge to bring all of these resources together. We knew we wanted to be an in-network provider and help people access this care through their insurance.

Now, today—for commercial plans as opposed to Medicaid plans—people typically do get pretty decent coverage for physical therapy and behavioral health. We see nutrition more variable. Sometimes you might need to have a specific referral in order to get coverage. Acupuncture is so-so. Lactation coverage is maddening. It was actually written into the Affordable Care Act that everyone should get access to zero cost share lactation care but, in reality, there’s like this huge asterisk, which is you have to find an in-network provider with your insurance company and then they will pay for it. Even underneath that, what we’ve found is it falls into a little bit of a gray area. Insurance companies have really clear protocols for things like primary care or specific ways they approach paying for the bundle around pregnancy, but sometimes these essential services like lactation that fall into less of a clear category, you’ll find less clear of reimbursement protocols as well. We’re definitely in the midst of navigating that and have found ways by bringing our IBCLCs into our clinical practice. It’s mostly working, but it’s still not one hundred percent and we find the reimbursement, the coverage, is highly variable across different pairs. It’s something we’re still working through, but our aim is to help people know these options exist, help them get information from their insurance company about what exactly is covered and what is not and, to the extent possible, help them access the care they do have coverage for and give them accurate information about what things will cost if they don’t have coverage, which can also be a challenge in healthcare.

Q: So, when you guys launched, did you launch with a multitude of services or just doulas or just lactation?

A: We started with a multitude of services, but we didn’t quite have all of the backend infrastructure around reimbursement and other things. The first handful of providers who did the first pilot with us were mostly still processing claims and we were matching people based on their initial coverage or based on the insurance they had and which providers took which coverage. My co-founder Matt and I both wanted some data and proof that people did this type of care before we poured years of our lives into building it. So that was the best way to do it while staying compliant and getting people access to the care through their insurance. In the early days, we offered a duct tape version, but we always wanted to test this idea of do people want a centralized place to get access to multiple different specialists? We found really strong feedback from the first cohort of patients on coming to one place. So we knew from the beginning that was the concept we wanted to test. But the infrastructure and backend wasn’t as fully operational as it is today.

Q: How did you decide on the decision to not create a physical space?

A: The way we think about what we do is through what we call a hybrid delivery approach. So, we do a lot of things virtually, but we also do some things in-person—those are largely in-home for one-on-one care or with physical therapists utilizing a third party location where they may practice and see patients.

It’s partially because it’s so much more capital-intensive if you have to build out physical spaces, and just the proportion of our services that need that ongoing physical location is actually kind of low. So, we made the decision from the beginning to start without having a brick and mortar. It’s definitely a question we still get all the time and something that we think about. For me, if we get to the right density in a certain market—like the economics would have to make sense to do it. 

But I think there are lots of other ways. For example, we had an amazing event sponsor who was able to help us get a location so that we could host it. I think there are other ways you can bring people together and use virtual community building. You have to be able to make the business sustainable too.

Q: What about the perinatal journey is most important or sacred to you when you think about how it sets us up for the rest of our lives?

A: I think a lot of it really comes down to making people feel empowered and supported. It’s probably one of the trickiest things about working in this space. You can tell people, for example, that we know from clinical research that working with a birth doula can reduce your likelihood of having an avoidable c-section, but not everyone wants a birth doula in the room with them. So it’s a really fine line of making sure people have the education and the awareness and they know their options, but still giving them plenty of space to make their own choices.

Research has shown—let’s say you go in presuming or wanting a vaginal birth and you end up giving birth via cesarean—if you feel informed along the way and you felt like you had some autonomy in that decision or the process that led to that point and you have a good relationship with your physician and care team, it’s less about the outcome and more about the journey that gets you there.

I think similarly in postpartum, you can do all of the things. You can have an entire Partum experience, but we can’t predict that everything is going to go perfectly. All we’re doing is giving resources that help improve your odds of things going well but, more importantly, putting you in the position where you know what your options are and you’ve made the decision around what kind of support you want or what kind of preventive care you want to engage in. That’s what we really want to do. So we often talk about how it’s about finding the right combination of care for you. That’s what we’re trying to do. Not necessarily to get everyone all the things.

Q: Over the years of building Partum, have you seen any trends or recent shifts in the perinatal space?

A: What we mentioned earlier about coverage for doula care being accessible via Medicaid—that has exploded. The coverage, specific to Medicaid, expanding to twelve months coverage postpartum is huge. It’s acknowledging the longtail of health issues that are related to pregnancy.

All of this has happened in the last five years. Before that, you started to see some little green shoots poking through. Same thing for pelvic floor physical therapy. I never even heard the words pelvic floor until after I gave birth to my first—or at least didn’t think about that concept. I had a very cursory engagement with physical therapy, but didn’t understand the magnitude of what can happen to your body during pregnancy and postpartum. Now, when someone hears that, they immediately understand.

Things are definitely changing in the broader social fabric around how we talk about birth and the awareness of some of these things, but we still have a ton of work to do. It’s not great to find out about pelvic floor physical therapy after you have your first. It’s ideal if that becomes part of the expectation—that everybody has access to preventive care for birth prep, labor and delivery knowledge, breathing, and all the things that we know set you up to minimize the impact to your pelvic floor.

I think awareness is improving. We’re seeing some expansion of coverage, which is great. But we still have a long way to go to really transform the care model so that you don’t have to become a small business in order to get yourself all the support you need. That’s obviously what we’re trying to change at Partum—to take some of that burden off the patient—but we’re an early-stage startup. We’re doing an amazing job serving families in Illinois and Texas, and our hope in five years is that you can find Partum in every city and state across the US. But we’re just still at the really early part of the curve here. I think we are seeing a ton of positive change, but just still a really long distance to travel.

Q: What do you say to people who think they don’t need this, or what language are you using to get people in the door—or is that not the challenge and it’s more just the coverage fight?

A: I think we find that when people have coverage, it takes away some of the friction for sure. So, once they know that something is likely to be paid for or covered by their insurance, they are much more likely to engage in preventive services—which makes a ton of sense.

I think really what you can do is show people data and information. You can show them the first hand testimonials and experiences that people have. We find that’s really powerful.

From the beginning, we of course do digital marketing, but we try to build awareness around what we’re doing with OBs, midwives, and pediatricians because people do come to them and ask for advice and support. Then also, word of mouth—because you know this is how moms operate. You ask your doctor, you ask Google, and you ask your friends—and, if you hear first hand from a friend that something was life-changing or it made a huge difference, it is really important.

I think that is something that as a society we’re trying to do—open up some of the conversation so that it doesn’t feel taboo to talk about getting postpartum help because you were tired. We find that there’s still this weird guardedness about people saying what they invested or engaged in. But that’s changing too.

I think all you can do is tell people what the research tells us, what the first hand experience is, and encourage them to talk to their provider about it, talk to their spouse about it, talk to their friends about it—then they have to make their own decisions. If they decide they don’t need it now, but need it later, we’re still going to be there.

We encourage people to do a prenatal lactation session. Some people engage with it, some people don’t. What’s great about it is that you establish care with a provider and it makes it so you know what you’re doing in those early days and hours of breastfeeding, but also you can pick up postpartum with your lactation consultant where you already have a baseline. Some people don’t engage in that prenatally and that’s fine, but we’re still going to be there postpartum when you’re coming up the learning curve and you want to get help from a lactation consultant. I think that's really all you can do. Inform people. Then it’s their decision. They have to choose.

Q: What do you see shifting in the next five years? Where do you see us going as a country, and where do you guys want to grow?

A: I think we’re encouraged. I’m an eternal optimist so I think the shifts that we’re seeing—whether it’s on the very leading progressive end of employers reimbursing for doula care or investing in fertility and other maternal and family health benefits—I think we’re encouraged to see that continue.

Then, all the way on the more publicly-funded side, seeing the changes that Medicaid plans are making. MCOs are surprisingly innovative and have done a lot in many areas to pilot things that then sometimes come back into the commercial landscape too. We expect all of that to continue moving. That’s good, because that coverage and reimbursement question is such a barrier for so many people.

I don’t see any of the movements that largely women are leading to say we deserve more—whether it’s around paid leave or equity when it comes to the wage gap and certainly maternal health falls into the same place—I don’t think we’re going to start accepting less or agree to what’s been the status quo.

So, I think you need both of those forces. The industry-wide one, the public demanding better support, and some of the policy changes that support both of those things too. So we hope that will all keep moving in the right direction.

Likewise, with Partum, we’ve found that what we’re doing really works for families when it comes to getting a range of different types of care in a single place. I think we’re also continuing to invest in how we make it efficient and sustainable by thinking about the right types of technology so that people can self-serve. For example, if you want to invest in your mental health, but don’t want to do one-on-one therapy, how do you access tools around meditation? Then, if you need it, escalate up to having one-on-one therapy or group or more casual settings in between. In order to make that version of healthcare happen, you really need to be able to evolve your payment model too. So that’s one of the things we’re working on.

Continuing to grow what we are doing today across more markets and geographies, but also building deeper partnerships with health systems so we are continuing to further embed this idea of holistic preventive support into the care experience. That’s a huge push for us as well. We’ve had some exciting early discussions with everyone from benefits providers to health plans, and that’s really our aspiration.

What we want to do with Partum is elevate the standard of care—not just getting free care from an OB or midwife and just patching together everything else yourself, but rather get great care from an OB or midwife and access to a whole team that really addresses mental, physical, and emotional needs end-to-end. That’s what we want to be the norm. So we’re on a long journey to make that happen but I think we’re really excited about and encouraged by all of the momentum in the field now.

Q: Do you have any ballpark numbers on what an average person is spending at Partum? If someone was interested, what should they budget?

A: Since people decide what is right for them, it’s pretty custom. But one thing we do with every family is have client care leads who don’t provide clinical care. but just help people put together that care plan. So, if you have that discussion early and can price out what you want, then you can put it on your registry. We have on our website the ability for people to add Partum gift cards to Baby List. There’s also an organization called Be Her Village to get people to build into their registries not just the stuff they need, but the support they need.

But it really depends. You can spend as little or as much as you want. You could say you are only going to do things covered by insurance because you don’t have the resources. One of the things we encourage people to think about when making these decisions is to really think about what support you can count on from friends and family too. That’s really different for different families. Some people have a mother or mother-in-law who will really show up and cook and clean and get up with the baby overnight. Most of us don’t. We may have parents still working or a sister or sibling who has been through it who can be there for a week. That’s another place where generationally we’ve seen a big shift, and different cultures have different norms around that as well. But have a real conversation so you know going in what you can expect from your parents.

Birth packages tend to range between $1,400 to $1,800. In different markets around the country, you’ll typically find much higher pricing for that in a place like San Francisco and you may find lower pricing in some less populated markets. It sort of depends. Usually postpartum care is hourly. That varies market to market. Most of our postpartum doula care is between $35 and $45 an hour. It goes beyond what you might expect to pay for typical hourly childcare, but these are people who are trained to care for newborns and the whole family and to support you when it comes to the basics of breastfeeding or recovery as well as to keep the household running. They’re not going to do heavy duty care, but tidy up the nursery or do the remaining dishes. It’s kind of like this extra set of hands that you just really need in those early postpartum days.

Insurance is really tough. What we find is that most people get pretty good coverage—not a lot of out-of-pocket expenses for lactation, mental health, and physical therapy—especially in a year you’re giving birth because you’re probably going to hit your deductible. All these other things that factor in. So it’s really hard to say for any family, this is what they should plan for. If you do the legwork upfront—and we help people put those puzzle pieces together—then you do know what to put on your registry. You know what you’re comfortable budgeting for.

Q: What has been your favorite testimonial from a client?

A: For me, the most visceral things around patient feedback were from that very early group of users when we were wondering if anyone even wanted this. One of our first handful of patients is someone I know personally who is a friend.

It was interesting because, going into her experience, she knew lactation had been an issue for some family members and close friends so that was the thing she was most acutely wanting to engage in and this was also during COVID times where there was a lot of masking and limited in-person. So she had kind of penciled in and pre-booked an in-home postpartum visit with a lactation consultant.

During the course of the visit, she upped the learning curve on breastfeeding, but the IBCLC she was working with who was also an RN noticed she was breathing really heavy. She started to ask her about that symptom and, through the course of the conversation, the patient was also having pain in her ribcage area. Those are two really sneaky symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia that hadn’t registered at all.

The IBCLC/RN encouraged her to go back and get her blood pressure checked with her OB. Then, lo and behold, she did have elevated blood pressure and was hospitalized for treatment to avoid a really severe postpartum preeclampsia event.

To me, that still gives me chills thinking about it because it was one of those early signals that proved that we shouldn’t have people discharged and not seeing anyone for their own health for weeks at a time. It just doesn’t make any sense given the data and what we know. She referred to working with Partum as truly life-saving. That’s something that I will always hold, that was that early affirmation that what we are doing is needed and we’re going to make an impact.

Being a founder is hard. Working with insurance is hard. Fundraising is hard. When you’re doing all of that and having that to come back to and knowing how big of an impact you can really make on an individual’s life and on a family, that’s why we’re doing this work.


This blog post was written based on kozēkozē Podcast Episode 361: Elevating The Standard of Care with Partum Health.

If you’d like to listen to the conversation first-hand, tune in here.


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