St. David's Stories

Guided by Grace, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman Continues Supporting New and Expectant Mothers Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

While COVID-19 has forced us to put many things on hold, little can stop the arrival plans of a new family member nine months in the making. The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally altered the pre- and postpartum – also known as “fourth trimester” – experiences, and for many women, uncovered a unique and challenging set of circumstances.

Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, a nonprofit focused on providing access to prenatal and postpartum care for women of color, quickly recognized the care and support they provide was reaching an even greater level of need. Providing services since 2012, including pregnancy and birth circles, childbirth prep workshops, wellness clinics and a birth companion program, the Central Texas nonprofit offers one-on-one support for expectant and new mothers from certified doulas. Now, in a socially distanced world, the Mama Sana Vibrant Woman team had to find creative solutions for very interpersonal interactions and services to ensure critical pre- and postnatal needs continued to be met amidst the pandemic. The team worked to quickly pivot, focusing on three areas: advanced coaching and preparation, financial support and advocacy, and guiding grace.

Mama Sana Vibrant Woman is also a grant partner of St. David’s Foundation’s Focus on the Fourth Women’s Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at improving postpartum access and outcomes during the “fourth trimester,” the first three months of a baby’s life.


To mitigate risk and infection, social distancing guidelines shifted Mama Sana Vibrant Woman’s typical doula service and community support group models away from physical interactions and nearly eliminated the ability for mothers to gain access to in-home post-delivery care. Meanwhile, hospitals and healthcare facilities began limiting spouse participation for scheduled appointments – and even birth.

Mama Sana Vibrant Woman pivoted its services to adhere to social distancing guidelines and ensured its mothers continued to be well-coached and prepared for their motherhood journeys. Steps included:

  • Transitioning prenatal and postnatal support circles and the birthing companion programs to virtual care hosted via Zoom.
  • Intensifying prenatal birthing sessions to focus on advanced coaching for partners so they can play a closer role to that of a doula during childbirth.
  • Expanding programming to prepare mothers for what they may experience after childbirth – during the fourth trimester – in the absence of post-birth visits.

With this increased level of preparation across prenatal and postpartum services, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman has continued to make their new and expectant mothers feel supported during a time of heighted uncertainty.


In addition to operational shifts, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman also leveraged its partner network to ensure their families continued to be advocated for and that their urgent needs continued to be addressed. This included working closely with Family Independence Initiative (FII), a fellow nonprofit who invests directly in families with low-income helping them to achieve prosperity. FII uses an online tool – UpTogether – to help families set goals, track progress and ideate with others in the program on creative ways to reach their goals. As a partner of FII, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman worked to identify families – ranging from those who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic and lack of access to childcare due to social distancing to single parents unable to qualify for the CARES Act – to receive funding from the FII COVID-19 Relief Fund. Together with FII, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman was able to distribute 100% direct cash assistance to 50 families in dire need of support through FII’s UpTogether platform helping them to pay for basic, vital living expenses, such as groceries, rent and utilities.


While navigating these uncertain and trying times, one phrase has continued to ground the staff at Mama Sana Vibrant Woman and the work they do – guide with grace. With this mantra in mind, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman continues to “focus on the fourth” amid an unprecedented health crisis, while simultaneously demonstrating resilience and bringing hope to the communities they serve.

If you’re interested in learning more about St. David’s Foundation’s Focus on the Fourth Initiative and its partners, click here. To learn more about Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, please click here.

Latest Stories

Mental Health First Aid: Providing Vital Training to Address Mental Health During COVID-19

Alumni Spotlight: 2011 Neal Kocurek Scholar Leads Front Line Response for COVID-19

Guided by Grace, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman Continues Supporting New and Expectant Mothers Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

St. David’s Foundation Deploys First Round of COVID-19 Recovery Funds to Central Texas Nonprofits

A Moment of Reflection

Providing Oral Care Packages During the Coronavirus Pandemic, St. David’s Foundation’s Dental Program Distributes Supplies to Those in Need

COVID-19: The Health and Financial Crisis Threatening Nonprofits

Press Release: St. David’s Foundation Announces $10 Million Fund in Support of Central Texas Nonprofits and Public Entities Impacted by COVID-19

St. David’s Foundation and Catchafire Deploy Virtual Operational Support to Assist Texas Nonprofits Impacted by COVID-19

COVID-19 in Central Texas

Announcing our Intergenerational Grants: Connecting Generations with Creativity and Innovation

Gratitude and Impact: Our Winter Grant Announcement

Partnering to “Get-out-the-Count” for the 2020 Census

Learning & Improving in 2019

Parks with Purpose & Equity: 19 Groups Receive Grants to Level the Playing Field

Why the Census Counts

Welcome to the Neighborhood – Our Dental Team’s Summer at Community First! Village

A New Beginning: Terrace at Oak Springs

Always Looking Forward: Our Austin Community College Endowed Scholars

Brains Aren’t Born, They’re Built – Announcing our Early Childhood Home Visiting Grants

St. David’s Foundation Announces New Leader

Catching Up with Parks Progress

Celebrating our Summer Grant Cycle

Mentoring Success

Supporting Seniors to Age with Dignity

Building Trust, One Village at a Time

Keeping Our Austin Neighbors Cool

The Healthcare Leaders of Tomorrow: Our Neal Kocurek Scholars

Our Summer Grants: Strengthening Community Health in Partnership with our Central Texas Neighbors

The Path to Healthier Texas Mothers and Babies

We Came, We Saw, We Were Inspired: SDF at SXSW 2019

Embracing Continuous Improvement in the New Year

Deepening our Impact in Central Texas with our December Grants

Earl Maxwell Announces His 2019 Retirement – VIDEO

Announcing the Recipients of our “Health Starts at Home” Grants

Getting to Impact Together through Good Measure

Flipping the Script on Anti-Poverty Programs: Family Independence Initiative (FII) Launches in Austin

Seeing the Potential: Keep Austin Beautiful & LBJ High School

Preventing Childhood Adversity and Building Community Resilience: Investing in an Emerging Field

Bringing A/C to our Neighbors in Need this Summer

The Next Generation of Health Professionals: Our 2018 Neal Kocurek Scholars

Testing a new model of Capacity Building: What I learned from evaluating St. David’s Foundation’s Capacity Academy

Senior Program Officer Kim McPherson on “Childhood Trauma’s Footprint on Health” Panel at SXSW

St. David’s Foundation Announces $30 Million in Grants, Including $8 Million Toward Childhood Resilience

Hurricane Harvey Relief in Central Texas

St. David’s Foundation Announces Our Active Parks Project

Foundation Communities’ Cardinal Point Location Opens in Northwest Austin

Focus on The Fourth: Our First Women’s Health Grantees

From One Van to Nine: The growth of St. David’s Dental Program

St. David’s Foundation Announces Grants of over $20 million

St. David’s Foundation Announces Summer Grants Totaling Over $25 Million

Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care Breaks Ground

10 Nonprofit Agencies with Innovative Healthcare Solutions Awarded St. David’s Foundation Opportunity Grants of nearly $1 million

St. David’s Foundation Announces Grants Totaling Nearly $27 Million