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San Francisco Business Times recently named Healthy Horizons CEO Sheila Janakos among this year’s “Influential Women of Bay Area Business.” Citing the widespread impact of the pandemic, the publication noted that its coverage of Sheila and other honorees features each one’s contributions as a community leader through the crisis.

To commemorate this occasion, Sheila talked to us about being a fierce advocate for breastfeeding mothers and working women.

Question: Congratulations! Making the list of “Influential Women” is a special accolade. It also comes at a difficult time for so many around the world and in our Bay Area community. How has the pandemic affected you and your business?

Sheila: Thank you. I’m humbled by the recognition, but the honor is truly mine. I get to support breastfeeding moms and new parents every day in the community I love. As the public health crisis forced everyone to isolate, my heart ached for the moms who would find themselves shut out — right when they and their babies were already at their most vulnerable. Although my retail stores temporarily closed, overnight Healthy Horizons went fully virtual and contactless to make sure our clients and their families could still thrive.

Question: How did you adapt your business?

Sheila: Because local hospitals are battling the pandemic, they have reduced their outpatient services including postpartum and lactation resources. My amazing Healthy Horizons staff and I took action since new mothers are facing unforeseen hardships. We instituted no-contact procedures to deliver hospital-grade baby scales and breastpumps over weekends, evenings, and whenever new moms needed help.

Question: How did your operations go into virtual mode?

Sheila: Healthy Horizons’ board-certified lactation professionals have already been consulting both in person and online using HIPAA-compliant platforms. During the pandemic, we expanded the virtual side of our patient education and support. You can imagine how many questions new moms have about breastfeeding and their newborns in general. Now imagine how many more questions they raised as COVID-19 struck our community. They are grateful for our team’s reassuring, knowledgeable presence during this health crisis.

Question: What else did new moms need?

Sheila: Along with safe products and lactation expertise, Healthy Horizons gives nursing moms a sense of belonging when they are at their most vulnerable, both physically and mentally. For example, we work with businesses to set up mother’s rooms in the Bay Area and in over 80 cities in the US and Canada. Since many breastfeeding moms are working from home with their babies, we created free educational webinars and online support groups to make sure they have the resources they need from their employers. That is the Healthy Horizons mission in action — empowering nursing mothers at work and at home.

Interested in Healthy Horizons and Sheila’s work to support and protect breastfeeding mothers at work and at home? Contact Healthy Horizons at or (650) 579-2726.

Ready to connect and learn? Register for Healthy Horizons' online support groups and lactation classes, along with webinars!