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"Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large … Breast milk is … the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth."

~ The World Health Organization


In 2008, a group of collaborators began an initiative to increase breastfeeding rates and decrease disparities in Illinois. HealthConnect One, the Illinois Department of Human Services' Title V Maternal and Child Health Program, and the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health committed to a multi-year effort to plan for strategic change in the way we support breastfeeding in Illinois.  
First, we looked at the data, as data drives policy change.  We started with an analysis of the most recent statewide data on breastfeeding rates and disparities, and looked as well at data on hospital maternity care practices.  At the same time, we reached out to a diverse group of stakeholders.  We held five forums in the Chicago area for parents, peer counselors, nurses, nutritionists, dieticians, lactation consultants and counselors, physicians, and other breastfeeding advocates.  We asked them two questions:  what do you think are the barriers to increasing breastfeeding rates in Illinois; and what would be your priority actions to improving support for breastfeeding?  The themes that emerged from those forums echoed the story told by the qualitative data.  The recommendations for the Illinois Breastfeeding Blueprint flowed both from the numbers and the voices of the stakeholders.  
This document is the result of an unprecedented process involving dozens of people that developed a plan for change for breastfeeding in Illinois. The efforts of a formidable Expert Panel and an inclusive Implementation Work Group have already begun the process of making that vision a reality.  The recommendations here are intended as a strategic plan for the next five years.
In a time when resources are shrinking, when the costs of health care are overwhelming our economy, and when the status of mothers and babies is declining, we cannot waste any time in making sure that every mother has the support to choose breastfeeding - for love, for health, and for the future of our next generations.

Download the Blueprint

To read the Blueprint online, click here.


The Hospital Breastfeeding Toolkit is a set of resources and tools for maternity hospitals working on breastfeeding quality improvement projects. Click here to access the Toolkit.


Blueprint Highlights


Download PDF  /  Read Online 

Data Appendix


Quantitative Data -
Download PDF
  /  Read Online


Qualitative Data -

Download PDF  /  Read Online


Download PDF Poster, as presented during APHA Annual Meeting, 2011



Chicago Tribune - FRONT PAGE

Hospitals push breast-feeding in hopes of getting 'baby-friendly' label

by Jennifer Delgado, Chicago Tribune - January 10, 2013

Illinois Physicians' Statement on Breastfeeding

Illinois Physician Groups Promote Breastfeeding Education, Support and Awareness

The Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP), the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP) and the Illinois Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ISACOG) cite a lack of information about breastfeeding, along with limited access to affordable breastfeeding support services as contributing factors to these lower rates, and they call on their physician members to advocate within area hospitals to implement Baby-Friendly Steps.


Illinois Breastfeeding on WBEZ

Regulators let breast milk compete with formula in hospitals

"When it comes to feeding infants, the healthiest option is mother’s milk. But many Chicago-area hospitals don’t act like it. Should authorities crack down?" 

by Chip Mitchell, WBEZ - May 5, 2011

Report: Breastfeeding in Illinois hinges partly on race, income

by Chip Mitchell, WBEZ - April 26, 2011


Upcoming Events

Click here for a list of events of particular interest to breastfeeding advocates in Illinois.