After giving birth to her first, Melissa painfully overcame hurdles to breastfeeding. Having ultimately succeeded, she took her research and experience and began successfully helping close friends and family members through the various challenges that often arise. And after 10 years of a solid career in sales and marketing, Melissa pumped the breaks and switched gears completely to grow this skill into a successful business. “I went back to school, completed 1000 clinical hours and ultimately obtained the three main certifications in my field including Breastfeeding USA Counselor, Certified Lactation Counselor and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.” In 2017 North Shore Lactation was born.
Get to know more about the various challenges new moms face with breastfeeding, and how North Shore Lactation can help even before you have your baby. And they take insurance!
Hi Melissa! Let’s get started. Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Hi! I’m Melissa Block. I grew up in the St. Louis area, went to college at Indiana University, lived in NYC for a couple years and then moved to Chicago in 2007. After starting our family in Lakeview, we eventually moved to Highland Park, IL in 2015. We loved all of the North Shore but fell in love with the warm community and small town feel of Highland Park, especially being able to walk to school, restaurants, the beach and Ravinia Festival.
Tell us about your family.
I’m a lucky mama to Nathan (10), Rachel (8) and Cameron (6). Along with my husband Phil, we love to travel, go on camping trips, attend concerts and spend time with family and friends. Our weeks are filled with soccer, basketball, dance, music lessons, birthday parties and playing with our 95 lb Goldendoodle, Rocky.
You are the proud founder of a small business in the new mom space. Please introduce North Shore Lactation. When did you launch this business?
I launched North Shore Lactation in 2017 and it has quickly become one of the largest, if not the largest, lactation practice in the Chicago area. North Shore Lactation provides in-home and telehealth lactation consultative services to families. We assist families with issues including low breast milk supply, pain, infection, pumping, bottle refusal, oral restriction including lip and tongue tie and every other lactation related issue that families may encounter.
What was the impetus behind starting this business?
I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed my children because of the health benefits, but had no idea how much I would end up loving the entire experience and the bonds it created between me and my children. As is the case with most parents, breastfeeding did not come easy and I experienced challenges, but I was determined to succeed. I started soaking up all of the breastfeeding resources I could and was able to overcome most of the hurdles I experienced. I then found myself helping friends and other moms that I was meeting at playgroups.
I enjoyed helping these other families succeed so much that after some encouragement from those moms, I decided to switch paths from the sales and marketing world that I was entrenched in, and make this my career. I went back to school, completed 1000 clinical hours and ultimately obtained the three main certifications in my field including Breastfeeding USA Counselor, Certified Lactation Counselor and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
What have you focused on to grow this business?
My business has grown organically way faster than I ever thought possible. My patients see my passion for helping them, and their referrals have been my best source of growth. I strongly believe in a team-oriented approach and always involve my patients’ OBs, pediatricians and the entire care team who, themselves, have also become a great source of referrals.
Tell us about your staff.
North Shore Lactation currently has 7 IBCLCs plus an office manager. Most of the IBCLCs are also RNs and have experience in both private practice and the hospital setting.
I imagine that you’re quite busy in this field, what is the best way moms can go about booking with you?
Yes, we are extremely busy! We had over 1,300 consultations in 2022 and expect to far exceed that in 2023. The best way for families to contact North Shore Lactation is to call or text 847-220-4192.
Describe something you’re most proud of in your profession.
There is no better feeling than helping someone latch their baby for the first time or first time pain-free, which fortunately regularly happens. Also, hearing from patients that they have met or exceeded their lactation goals and hearing from them how special their breastfeeding journey was gives me great pride. The health benefits of breastfeeding, when possible, for the parent and baby are overwhelming, including reduction in obesity, cancer, postpartum depression and more. It’s my greatest joy to assist families in achieving their personal goals alongside these health benefits.
When clients come to you what can they expect?
We recognize the urgency of most lactation issues. When a patient contacts us, they can almost always expect to be seen over telehealth within 24 hours. We use that initial telehealth appointment to get them on a care plan right away and then we follow up in person if and as necessary. It’s truly incredible how much we can accomplish over telehealth to improve their experience within 24 hours of contacting us.
What’s next for North Shore Lactation?
I’ve seen first hand the struggles that many parents face with postpartum depression and anxiety. I am in the process of obtaining my certification in Perinatal Mental Health in 2024 so that I may better support the wide range of challenges that new parents can face.
We also want to use our proficiency in telehealth to reach families across the country, especially in rural areas where lactation support may not be as prevalent.
What about health insurance?
North Shore Lactation accepts almost all insurance plans, most of which provide coverage for 6 or more lactation appointments at no cost to the patient. We highly recommend that patients take advantage of this, starting with a prenatal appointment around 34-36 weeks of pregnancy and contacting us as soon as their baby arrives to ensure they have all the support they need right away. Our only goal is to help our patients achieve their own personal goals.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Almost all families encounter challenges when breastfeeding but it is very rare that we see an issue we are not able to overcome. Collectively, our seven IBCLCs have seen tens of thousands of patients. This means that we are prepared and qualified to help with any challenge.
How do our readers learn more and get in touch?
Families can call or text 847-220-4192 with questions or to schedule an appointment. Northshorelactation.com is a great first stop for patients wanting to learn more about our services.