Archive by Author

#NormalizeBreastfeeding in Chicagoland’s Businesses!

25 Sep

So exciting. We got an awesome grant from Public Allies Chicago‘s Pitchfest to reach out to Chicago’s business community and share the breastfeeding love. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE IT WORK!

Wouldn’t it be cool for more businesses to display a “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” sticker and to know that the business you’re about to enter is going to respect your breastfeeding rights? Here’s your chance to nominate your favorite local business to recieve a free window decal and information on creating a breastfeeding-friendly business (for both customers and employees)!

Who to enter:

  • Stores that moms with young ones would frequent. Think: clothing stores, cafes, boutiques, hair salons, play spaces, park district field houses, doctor’s offices, daycares and grocery stores.
  • Locally owned businesses are best because they don’t have to ask a corporate office for permission.

Nominate a business or two now!!!


Businesses will be sent a free decal, as well as other information on making their business breastfeeding-friendly for both customers and employees.

5 Things Your Best Friend Would Tell You About Breastfeeding

8 Sep

Best friends are masters at one thing: telling it like it is. If you are lucky enough to have someone like this in your life then they can be your biggest supporter and critic at the same time.

Your best friend is the first phone call when you need to process. Your best friend is a fan of everything you do, even when everyone else thinks you are crazy. You and your best friend are kindred spirits; you could have met at any point in your life and you would still have been best friends.

So, what would your best friend tell you about breastfeeding? The truth.”images

This is just a tidbit of Lisa’s great piece about what you really need to know when it comes to breastfeeding. Stuff your girlfriends would tell you. Read it. It’s good.  5 Things Your Best Friend Would Tell You About Breastfeeding (shared with permission from Lisa Zimmermann herself, a member of Breastfeed Chicago, along with being a postpartum doula, RN, IBCLC, and CPN,).

The Anatomy of an Anti-Breastfeeding Article

9 Aug

The moment I see the article pop up on my newsfeed, my heart stops a little. My blood pressure rises. My heartbeat quickens. The anti-breastfeeding article. You’ve seen them. Some of you have shared them. There may be one flaming up the feeds this week.

Whether they’re written by journalists or moms or so-called “experts,” they can be really confusing. They try to turn everything we believe about breastfeeding (being good for moms and babies, for instance) on its head, making us all feel like we’ve been duped.

If you take a closer look, though, what you’ll find most of the time is they are not nearly as convincing as their flashy headlines.

Breastfeed Chicago is all about arming mamas with the weapons for survival in this big, bad world, so here’s a little anatomy lesson for you that reveals the naked truth of these little beasts.  

Anti-Breastfeeding Articles… make it personal.

They all find a way to touch on the exquisitely painful personal experiences some mothers have with breastfeeding, instead of focusing on the CONTEXT in which mothers are trying to breastfeed. What’s the context of breastfeeding for many American mothers?  It’s booby trapped. We don’t fail at breastfeeding. We. Are. Failed.

Our systems are broken, and we come to breastfeeding out of those broken systems.

Our health care professionals lack the education to support us. Our medical insurance fights us on our legally-entitled reimbursements. Inequities abound in our healthcare institutions. Our families and sometimes spouses may not support our decisions. We have been fed mixed messages our whole lives about what our breasts are really for. Human milk and breastfeeding support can be hard to access for sick babies. Some of us have never seen another breastfeeding baby before we have our own. We may struggle with a history of sexual abuse that impacts what’s comfortable for our bodies. We lack access to paid leave after the birth of our babies, and we may have to fight our employers for break time to express our milk. I could go on… CONTEXT.  Is it any wonder that we struggle to meet our own breastfeeding goals?  

Anti-Breastfeeding Articles… imply inadequacy where none exists.

Anti-breastfeeding articles make their case so very personal, they take away from the bigger picture: the population. At the level of population, breastfeeding is not about personal choice.  Breastfeeding is about health for babies and moms, saving lives and dollars.

Not the Mommy Wars; health. Not control freaks; health. Public health. Plain and simple.

Breastfeeding recommendations like those from the AAP and the WHO are not, as the articles would have you believe, a tool used to measure one’s personal worth. Recommendations do not in any way imply that moms who do not or cannot breastfeed are not good, amazing, thoughtful, kind, and loving mothers, nor are they intended to make anyone feel bad or feel less than because they don’t or can’t breastfeed.  An anti-breastfeeding article usually finds a way to go for the emotional quick and subtly – falsely – connect the notions that if one does not achieve the recommendations, that one is somehow “not enough.” Couldn’t be further from the truth.

What your breastfeeding journey may actually look like.  Your outcome may be different than recommendations or expectations that that’s OK!

What your breastfeeding journey may actually look like. Your outcome may be different than recommendations or expectations and that’s OK!

Life sometimes does not pan out as expected. Breastfeeding journeys may occasionally involve some formula, donor milk, tools like supplemental nursing systems, or even weaning after giving it your all and then coming to terms with the journey itself. It’s sometimes messy. It’s OK. YOU ARE ENOUGH!  

Anti-Breastfeeding Articles… often have questionable timing, authors or motives.

Is it any coincidence that anti-breastfeeding articles tend to be published in the weeks leading up to August and often even DURING World Breastfeeding Week? No. Why criticize a public health initiative during the month that celebrates it? Who has an interest in contradicting breastfeeding love? Think about it.

Who is the author? Is it a person of integrity or someone who has a history of internet sensationalism? Does the author have training in science writing and public health? Training in lactation? Is the author someone who is experiencing feelings of guilt or inadequacy (likely due to a confluence of circumstances brought up in the points above)?

And last, but not least, in this day and age of sponsored news content, was someone PAID to bash breastfeeding? I’m actually not naturally paranoid, but the fact is that news coverage in the age of social media is big business, and sponsored news stories are a real thing. There’s lots of money to be made off of moms who don’t breastfeed and almost nothing to be made off moms who do.  

Anti-breastfeeding articles… cherry-pick evidence.

Cherry-picking evidence is a method often employed by authors who lack training in public health or have had traumatic breastfeeding experiences.

I find it odd that so many anti-breastfeeding articles claim to be shedding light on a giant lie, but then completely ignore the ENORMOUS body of scientific knowledge supporting breastfeeding. It’s important to note that usually the studies these authors cite to make their points are flawed studies to begin with. Flawed studies = flawed outcome.  Breastfeeding wouldn’t be considered “a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012), promoted by organizations ranging from the World Health Organization to the March of Dimes, if the larger body of scientific literature didn’t point to hugely positive outcomes.  

Anti-breastfeeding articles should be seen for what they are.

Let’s be clear: everyone has a right to their own opinion. If you really hate breastfeeding, I can’t stop you from shouting it from the rooftops. And if you chose not to or couldn’t breastfeed, know that great parents come in many forms, and the way you feed your baby has nothing to do with how much you love your baby.

BUT… let’s also be clear that these articles are not written with the interest of mothers and babies in mind. They are written for the express purpose of inflaming a fight. Let’s give the bad behavior as little attention as possible, to snuff that fire right out. Instead, focus on what’s important: Loving our babies with all we’ve got and following that little voice inside our heads that says, “nurse on, mama.”

Written by Breastfeed Chicago board members Elise Fulara and Katrina Pavlik. Special thanks to Beth Bejnarowicz.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week! “Let’s Make It Work!”

3 Aug download


Happy World Breastfeeding Week! “Let’s Make It Work!”

(originally posted in and shared with permission from Mesa Birth)

August 3, 2015

You might have seen a lot of posts of photos of nursing moms celebrating World Breastfeeding Week — but what the heck is it?

World Breastfeeding Week has been around since 1991 when WABA (the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) organized the event as “one unique unifying social mobilisation event that can build solidarity and action.”

A Big "Latch-On" circa 2005

A Big “Latch-On” circa 2005

The call this year is for “concerted global action to support women to combine breastfeeding and work.” WABA describes three necessary factors to make this happen:

TIME: Time for maternity leave (six month minimum!), time for breastfeeding breaks, and flexible work hours.

SPACE/PROXIMITY: Childcare near the workplace and transportation for women to be near their babies, private facilities for expressing breast milk, and clean work environments free of harmful chemicals.

SUPPORT: Includes positive attitudes about breastfeeding in public, job security and non-discrimination on the grounds of maternity and breastfeeding, and information about national laws and benefits as well as education about women’s health so women are better able to combine employment with breastfeeding and childcare needs.

Clearly the US has a long way to go to meet these goals! Kudos to all of the many women who have combined work and breastfeeding in today’s (and yesterday’s) less-than-ideal climate.

Really cool Breastfeed Chicago tattoo

Really cool Breastfeed Chicago tattoo

Here in Chicago, we celebrated World Breastfeeding Week with the help of Breastfeed Chicago and The Big Latch-On! Dozens of nursing women brought their children to the beautiful

Garfield Park Conservatory to mingle with other parents, get free temporary tattoos, and meet representatives from various nonprofits including Babywearing International, Chicagoland Rainbow Families, Chicago Region Breastfeeding Taskforce, and Breastfeeding USA. At 10:30 am, everyone “latched on,” joining over 13,000 latches worldwide!

Nurse on, mamas! What are you doing to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week?

Melissa is a mom, labor and postpartum doula, placenta encapsulator, and a newly appointed Board Member of Breastfeed Chicago!! Check out her blog at MesaBirth.

Is Your Insurance Company Failing You?

3 Jul


Did you know that the Affordable Care Act requires non-grandfathered insurance plans to cover lactation services and pumps? Yup. Awesome, right? Problem is, some insurance companies are not following either the spirit or letter of the law. Great news, the smart, savvy ladies over at Breastfeed Chicago have been working on this issue for a while, and we’ve got a whole mess of info for you, if you are looking to get your lactation costs covered.

First, take a look at this (FRONT PAGE!!!) article in the Chicago Tribune: It outlines all of the discrepancies between what insurance companies say they’re doing and how hard some moms have to work to get services reimbursed. Shameful.

Second, take a look at all this great info from the National Women’s Law Center – they’ve explained the law in detail and have created templates for reimbursement requests and appeals:

Third, share your story with us! Comment below and let us know if you’ve had luck getting lactation services covered! If you haven’t, tell us that story, too! We want to hear from you.

Easy Way to Support Breastfeed Chicago

26 Jun

Change your Amazon Smile recipient to Breastfeed Chicago!!!

And thanks!

Support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act!

5 Jun

Mamas! It’s not often that we get the chance to band together and help to protect our fellow moms – pregnant moms who are forced to work without accommodations like stools, water bottles and modified tasks. No one should have to choose between supporting their family and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

What is the Act?

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a bi-partisan effort that helps protect moms by requiring employers to give pregnant women reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

What can you do?

Our very own Senator Mark Kirk has not yet signed on as a supporter of the bill! Help him make this choice by telling him how much his support would mean.

Call him: 

  • Chicago: 312-886-3506
  • Springfield: 217-492-5089
  • Washington, D.C.: 202-224-2854

Message him:

Sample Tweets: @SenatorKirk

  • Bipartisan support means #PWFA has a much bigger shot at passage. Let Congress hear how important this is to you
  • Having a healthy pregnancy should not have to mean giving up a paycheck. #PWFA is justice for pregnant workers. #MissionPossible
  • Fired for drinking water? Or for asking not to lift heavy boxes? This should never happen. Protecting workers with #PWFA is #MissionPossible
  • Most people agree pregnant workers shouldn’t be pushed off the job right when they need work most. #PWFA would help keep them on the job.
  • @SenatorKirk, pregnant workers need your support. Will you join @KellyAyotte & @SenDeanHeller in co-sponsoring #PWFA?
  • We are counting on @SenatorKirk to stand w/pregnant workers. @KellyAyotte & @SenDeanHeller co-sponsor #PWFA —will you?
  • @SenatorKirk, IL did it and so should Congress. Join @KellyAyotte & @SenDeanHeller to co-sponsor #PWFA. Will you sign on?

Letter to Senator Kirk:

PWFA-Letter to Sen. Kirk from Illinois coalition in support of PWFA

Senators Casey (D-PA), Shaheen (D-NH), Ayotte (R-NH), and Rep. Nadler (D-NY) - Heller (R-NV) not pictured

Senators Casey (D-PA), Shaheen (D-NH), Ayotte (R-NH), and Rep. Nadler (D-NY) – Heller (R-NV) not pictured


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