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Ep. 148- From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Interview with Cynthia Changyit Levin

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*We apologize for any typos, misspellings or incorrect grammar. Our transcript is auto-generated by software that’s trying its best, just like all of us.*

Maureen: Hey, welcome, welcome. We have a great episode coming up for you today.

Heather: Yes, we are branching into one of our interests that is tangential to breastfeeding, but not exactly about breastfeeding because we feel it’s very important.

Maureen: You know that we love to tell you guys how powerful you are, especially in the postpartum and you know, we’d like to remind you you could do anything you set your mind to, right? Although, of course, take a break when you need it and rest.

But we have a special guest coming on today to talk about that power. We’re going to welcome Cynthia Changyit Levin, the author of From Changing Diapers to Changing the World, why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started.

Heather: Levin is a nonpartisan activist working across a variety of issues. She coaches volunteers of all ages to build productive relationships with members of Congress. Cynthia advocated side by side with her two kids from their toddler to teen years and crafted a new approach to advocacy based upon her strengths as a mom.

Maureen: She does so much. Heather, let me tell you. She volunteers with results. The one campaign prep for the World care moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Moms Rising and the UN Foundation Shot at Life Campaign.

Heather: Yeah, we are really pumped to talk with her. She actually is going to inspire so many people today.

Yes, just through your ear holes. Like, who knows what she’s gonna stir up in your little heart .

Maureen: Before we do that, let’s thank a patron and answer a question.

Heather: Today we would like to thank our new patron, Victoria K. We really appreciate all of your support, monetary and otherwise. And this week your money is going to a brand new cork floor in my new office, in the new studio, which is apparently very good for sound absorption.

It will be very quiet. It’s gonna be so corky. You’re gonna love it. Okay.

Maureen: I have a question today that I think a lot of you guys have at home. This comes from Sierra in our Facebook group, and her question is, what do you eat that actually makes you feel full? Trick question. I know, but breastfeeding makes me very hungry.

Well, my dear, I think a lot of us feel ravenous while breastfeeding. The thing that I have found that helps me the most is getting enough protein. You might look at your diet and be like, there’s protein in all my meals, but when you actually add it up, it’s like 20 or 30 grams. I encourage you to get at least 60 grams, if not like, 80 plus a day.

It makes a huge difference in what kind of foods you crave, how hungry you are, you know, and also think about calorie dense foods, nut butters, and fatty foods. Those are good for you. Don’t avoid the fats . But we’re also looking at fiber and fruits and vegetables, you know, and as. We all love a carp day.

It’s not gonna keep you full. Right? So like yesterday I was like, I would like the cinnamon bun. So I ate it and then I was like, now I’m gonna have this like super lovely chicken salad that’s gonna keep me full cuz the cinnamon bun did not. Totally fine to do both.

Heather: Yep. And we are gonna link two of our previous episodes for those of you that wanna learn more about that.

One is with our interview with Sonya Looney, who is a professional mountain biker who breastfed at the same time that she was training. And she talks a lot about the foods that she ate and how she stayed full. And then another one is an interview we did. With Allison Zat, our nutrition doula, who is amazing, and she explains what’s going on in your body when you are eating certain foods and why you’re so damn hungry all the time.


Maureen: All right, well, we’re gonna take a little break to thank one of our sponsors and then we are gonna hop on the line with Cynthia. Have you guys ever been listening to our show and thought to yourself, man, I really wanna work one-on-one with Maureen.

Heather: I do. Every day that I sit podcasting across from you.

Maureen: Well, lucky for you and everybody at home. I offer both in-person and virtual support. Through my business and in my business. High Lamb birth support, I’m dedicated to mentoring you guys through your childbearing year. So that could start with fertility all the way through pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum.

I offer home birth, midwifery services, doula services, lactation support, herbal. Anything you guys need.

Heather: You even do miscarriage support. Absolutely. I do. That’s one of the biggest things that is so hard to find, and I think that your people that are local to you are so incredibly lucky to have this service.

Maureen: Thank you. And I just feel really happy to serve everybody and I’m so happy I can expand my services virtually as well.

Heather: Yeah, telehealth for lactation has been really important through the pandemic, and I think we just about perfected at this point.

Maureen: So if you guys wanna work with me, head over to highland birth and check out what I can offer you.

Heather: That’s H I G H L A N D birth

Welcome, Cynthia to the Milk Minute podcast. We really appreciate you being here to talk about activism and all of the other things that we kinda weave into our educational breastfeeding podcast. It’s one of the things that we are very passionate about as well. So we should start at the beginning, right, Maureen?

Yeah. We love starting at the beginning. Okay. So could you give us a little bit of your background and how you became interested in shepherding moms into activism and advocacy? And just tell us your story and about your book. You wrote a whole book, so tell us about that.

Cynthia: I did. Oh yeah. The beginning is a great place and it was what led me to contact you because you talk about breastfeeding and my advocacy journey actually started in a very lonely spot.

In the dark of a Chicago winter breastfeeding my first child. So she, they were born in 2003. And this was my, like I said, my first baby. And I wanted to do the very best that I could. And to me that meant breastfeeding. And what I didn’t know about myself was that breastfeeding is not natural for, excuse me, that’s not the right thing to say.

It’s not that it’s not natural, it just takes a while for my particular body. Yeah, it needs to be coaxed to do this kind of thing. So I didn’t know that I was a mom that would be slow to produce milk. So I was just doing the best I could. And you’ve probably heard the story a million times, that I’m breastfeeding.

I’m breastfeeding, and the, the baby’s not gaining weight. The little soft spot on the top of the head. Sinking down and there’s not any wet diapers and what am I doing wrong? All those thoughts. And so it was like, she, they were born on December 20th and it was Christmas Eve. So four days later I.

Call my doctor and the doctor’s pretty much like that. Your baby’s starving and you need to go to the, you know, drugstore and get some formula and everything will be fine. And I had all those feelings, like, how stupid am I? But I was trying to do my very best and I got to see firsthand how quickly a baby’s health can turn around when you have that simple intervention of nutritious formula and clean water.

So here’s Christmas, everything’s turning around and going fine. And then I start to think about, well wait a minute, there’s a lot of moms around the world, aren’t they? That don’t even have clean water. And if a mom doesn’t have clean water to drink for herself, she can’t produce the milk. And you know, I will just put in here a spoiler that that baby is fine and is like freshman in college,

I feel like sometimes I leave that part out.

Heather: Everyone’s hyperventilating at home in the shower.

Cynthia: They’re worried about the starving baby. The baby’s fine, and the baby’s probably listening to this podcast and rolling their eyes . But so I, it started me thinking, you know, and I’m sort of embarrassed to say, this is the first time I really thought about.

The plight of moms that don’t have these simple resources. And maybe I’d thought about it, but to feel something in your core when you’re holding a baby that’s not thriving is a lot different than just reading about it in a magazine or something like that. So that was the beginning of my journey and what happened after that was a lot of introspection, a lot of self-education while I had the time on maternity leave to read about it.

You know, see things online to read books and learn about it. And I wanted to write this book. This is the book I wish I had 18 years ago. It’s for mothers and others who want to go from a place of helplessness about, you know, if it’s world hunger or if it’s gun violence or you know, something else that’s you’re really passionate about that is bothering you.

This is for moms to learn how to use their voices to influence policies in the most impactful ways and the most efficient ways because we’re all busy and I, in this book, it’s called From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: why moms make great advocates and how to get started, and I hope that I’ve written a warm and funny and inspirational book that has a lot of tips about how to advocate even when you don’t have a lot of time.

I’ve also heard from people who aren’t parents that they love my books , because I’m always talking about how to do things efficiently and on the go. So, you know, who’s not a busy person. They also appreciate the tips in their even though there’s just like a lot of stories about babies and kids.

Heather: Yeah. Well, you know what? First of all, in solidarity, I also have a Christmas Eve. Yeah. Really. Wow. And just there is something about having a baby in the winter that is incredibly isolating, the RSV and cold and flu and like, don’t touch my baby. And not to mention your

Maureen: providers, they’re like, well, I can get back to you on January 3rd.

Heather: Uhhuh . And, and then also I just want to give a quick nod to the. In the middle of the formula shortage. Mm-hmm who couldn’t just go out and get the formula. And I know that’s something that probably comes up in your work that you do, that you’re passionate about. But we just took advantage of in America for so long because we never had food scarcity for babies before.

, and

Cynthia: this is. I felt that so deeply when it was happening. I’m like,

Heather: oh, that was really, yeah, but you know what, the, the one thing I will say that kind of came out of that is that when providers get calls from moms just like you, and it’s, you know, January one, they say, now with the formula shortage, let me put you in touch with an I B C L C.

So you can have a consult. And also there’s formula. Mm-hmm. , you know, so it’s not just like, oh, there’s always gonna be formula. It’s like, oh, well what are your goals? It almost gave everybody a little bit of a pause. To reevaluate, you know? So I just wanna to say that because there’s a lot of people out there right now listening who are like, yeah, and I couldn’t find it.

Cynthia: I think I was lucky to be able to find formula. And like you said I; I did have a healthcare provider who, who called back mm-hmm and that was not lost on me. That just medical advice is a resource in itself. Absolutely.

Maureen: Yeah. I mean,

Heather: medical advice as a resource food for your babies. Just having like

Maureen: community support.

You know, I, I mean, you touched on it. The way

Heather: that our society is structured for postpartum parents is the,

Maureen: the, just the most isolating thing I can think of. And, and it, you know, it like programs your brain to just be smaller and stay home and, you know, thinking on like a larger scale, it takes away your earning potential when you’re on maternity leave.

You know, it, it’s, it’s hard to come out of that space, you know, this like awkward mom cave and just be suddenly a normal person again. How did you fight that isolation, you know, and, and

Heather: scream into the void until somebody heard

Maureen: you. We h how do you, how do you harness that big

Heather: energy when the world

Cynthia: almost wants us to be small?

I love the phrase the mom cave that you mentioned. I felt like that’s , that’s where I was. That sort of thing of like hiding our awkwardness. I was really awkward and I remember going to the shed aquarium because it was a quiet place. I had a poncho that I would put my baby under the poncho in nurse and now I look back on that, having had a second kid and stuff like that.

It’s like why was I hiding so much ? Although I did like looking at the fish. That was nice. That does sound

Heather: nice actually.

Cynthia: Yeah, if, if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re breastfeeding and you’re in Chicago, I highly recommend membership to the Shed Aquarium. If you can swing it, that’s amazing.

I was there all the time and my toddlers learn to walk there. Aw, yeah. Well, you know, it’s just cold up there sometimes. But to your question, how did you harness that big energy? I’m not sure that I was very good at it at the time because I was busy kind of hiding myself throughout the first child’s infancy.

My second kid came along in 2005 and I was getting a little better at . Everything. . Yeah. Sorry. First children. Yeah, they’re all, you know, it’s what? It’s . Yeah. I would say. Support of other moms was a big deal. I’m gonna give a shout out to a mom named Laura Fri who lives in the Chicago area and later, much later than this time, became a really strong advocate for mom’s demand action.

You know, taking gun violence on is, is her special issue. But back then having her support to create a space in her home for us to come out where we. Literally let it all hang out, and breastfeed, and talk about these issues and encourage each other in anything that we wanted to do. Back then, we didn’t know what we were doing with advocacy yet, so we would create these things that we called, like play date with a purpose, and we would have somebody watch the toddlers downstairs.

We could keep the babies with us, and we would have an hour where we could talk about. Big issues like hunger or what else was going on at the time things were happening in Haiti, there were tsunami. Gosh, what everything but Covid was happening. , we hadn’t come across that at that point yet, but there was a, a space where moms could talk about what was worrying us, and we could start, Hmm.

I guess they were baby steps, right? Yeah. Taking those baby steps of advocacy together. So that’s, that’s what I would have to say. For me, harnessing that energy was only possible with the support of. Moms. Well, isn’t that

Heather: kind of how we used to do it? I just imagine all of us used to breastfeed in a circle in our community of women, and we would talk about like our issues going on with our community.

You know, like, how can we problem solve this together? And everyone’s just passing babies back and forth and it’s like, you know, Probably one of our pastimes that we just kind of forgot about over the years, and maybe that’s why it felt so normal to do that. I wish more people had that. Yeah, and I think we’re aware now at least of the fact that we should not be isolated during this time, and hopefully people are taking steps.

I know, you know, with our businesses, Maureen and I we’re trying to take steps to make that happen, but I, I guess my question to that is your focus was on global poverty and hunger. Which is huge. That is a ginormous issue, and most politicians are even too afraid to tackle something that big. So what gave you the chutzpah to get started, and what do you think it is that makes parents particularly suited to this sort of work in spite of their endless everyday parenting chores, like the day-to-day, get the kids bed, get the laundry done, get the dishes done, and it’s like, oh, and world hunger ,

Cynthia: by the way, let’s solve the thing that nobody’s been able to solve.

Okay. I talked about support of other moms before and here. say, talk about the support of other activists. They were what gave me that chutzpah at the beginning. I borrowed it when I didn’t have the confidence that I could tackle these huge issues. I could borrow a little bit of theirs. And now I’ll talk a little bit about how.

I came into the, the lobbying world and you know, actually talking to members of Congress, I was lucky that a church friend saw me struggling with all these big thoughts and invited me to meet the bread for the world group in my church. And they are a Christian advocacy group that works mostly on hunger.

They have branched out to other issues as well, but most of them were older than I was. and they’d been fighting world hunger this way for years, and they could see how the advocacy was working because they had this longer perspective. So I could kind of grab onto their coattails. . And then later when I lobbied in Washington, DC for the first time with an organization called Results, I was really scared and intimidated to go to the meetings.

But my team leader Richard Smiley in Chicago, he’s still doing it and he’d been doing it so long that I could kind of follow in his wake around the hill, a little duckling or something, until the very last meeting with my own congresswoman and seeing him. Then I was able to run it myself and was completely surprised that I could do it.

So I think I was pretty lucky that I was connected with these phenomenal advocates that. believed in me and invited me into their space, but not everybody’s gonna have that. So I wrote the book to be that invitation to say that I believe in you and hears stories of not only me, but other moms who are making it work.

Other moms that don’t look like me or have different lives, different backgrounds, but what we all have in common is that we’re all busy parents in the book. and you’re asking what makes busy parents great advocates. That’s sort of the, the meat of it, I think is convincing people that they can be, and I think it’s because parenthood actually trains us in some of the most important skills that advocates need.

I save moms in the book because this is Targeted toward moms, but this actually goes for dads too. I think that we explain things very well. We’re persistent. We’re responsible because we have to be. We’re responsible for the lives, all the, all the little kids around us. And I say these things in the book in sort of funny ways, talking about, hey, We explain things all the time.

And if you can explain things to a second grader, you can explain things to a member of Congress. . . That’s brilliant. . It’s true, and it sounds a little snarky but I don’t mean to be insulting necessarily. It’s like what happens when you talk to a kid? You explained something in, it’s very. Bare bones you know, simple way.

Mm-hmm. , right? Mm-hmm. and Congress people are like very busy. They’ve got a million things and they don’t want somebody to come in, just be throwing a lot of statistics and jargon at them. If you can tell them as. Story just like with kids grownups like stories too. Yeah, they’re memorable. We are so good at that.

And if you weren’t good at it before you were a parent, you’re gonna be good at it after you a

Heather: parent . Well, there is an art form too. , you know, putting things in layman’s terms. And we find that on the podcast, you know, just recording episodes, like there are some topics that are just gnarly research-heavy topics.

Yeah. And, you know, we wanna speak to lactation professionals and other providers, but we also wanna be able to reach everyday people that are like, just give me the answer so I can move on with my life . You know, so I think also planning, I think. Mm-hmm. , we are really good at planning, so like whether we want to be or not.

Oh. . And so sometimes with those research heavy episodes we’ll tell people like, we’re gonna give you the answer up top and then you can turn it off and we’re gonna keep going with the research if you wanna listen more. Yeah, for sure. You can absolutely do that; I imagine with Congress people as well.

Cynthia: Well, I think we’re good strategists. And I, I’m getting even better as my kids move into the teen years because a parent has to be thinking, you know, if you think about it like chess, like you have to be you know, 3, 4, 5 moves ahead of the kid, right? Oh yeah, yeah. If you get behind, you’re just sunk

And that does make us good, responsible strategist. It’s like, okay, what are we gonna do after that? Okay, if, if this happens in the meeting. What should I be thinking about? But going back to what you said about you know, some issues are very tech heavy. I find that with climate change sometimes my kids are actually much more involved in climate advocacy, which is great.

If you raise advocates than you can be in more places at one time. So they can specialize in that. While I’m working on child maternal, But there’s a feature in the book about a mom who works with mom’s Clean Air Force, and she talks about her story and how climate change and pollution affect her family and asthma and things like that.

And it’s like, oh, that, that is advocacy. I can get behind the storytelling and what does this mean for us as families? Yeah.

Heather: And also breastfeeding in particular. is a lot of forced presence. There’s a lot of sitting down with your thoughts whether you want them or not. You can choose to scroll on your phone, but there are just some times where you’re like, all right, let me just sit here with my thoughts.

Mm-hmm. , and you look at this person that you made and you think about the future that they’re gonna have, and it really kind of does tend to light a fire under. What the world is gonna look like for your kid.

Cynthia: You know, I, I think a lot of power comes from that.

Heather: Let’s take a quick break to thank our sponsor. Aero

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Cynthia: Actually, the number one reason that I have that moms make great advocates is because of our power which seems a little counterintuitive sometimes because sometimes when you’re breastfeeding or whatever you’re thinking, I don’t know if you’ve had probably, there’s a lot of listeners with the experience of that oxytocin is like kicking in and, and you get like emotional and stuff and we’re sort of trained to think that emotion doesn’t have a place on Capitol Hill.

But I think it absolutely does that, whether it’s because of the oxytocin or because we’re tired. Or whatever. We have these parental moments of vulnerability, and I think that’s precisely what gives us strength to be an advocate like we find ourselves sometimes consumed by crushing empathy when we hear the stories of parents who can’t give their kids what they need, but that’s not a sign of weakness.

It. An ability to internalize another person’s story that gives you great power because caring and empathy are contagious and contagious in the good ways, not the infectious disease ways. Like if you can. You know, share a compelling story and maybe there are tears in your eyes when you tell it to your member of Congress and they feel something, then they are going to have their own reasons.

And their own motivations for, for changing whatever needs to

Heather: be changed. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Stories have

Maureen: a lot of power, and you use that in your book, right? You have a lot of these little stories from other parents who became advocates and they are inspiring. How did you connect with those

Cynthia: moms for the.

I love my mom friends. I love my mom, advocate friends, . I mostly connected with them through attending conferences, which wasn’t available to everybody to, you know, fly to dc. I found creative ways to do it. I talk about in the book sometimes that like a church helped me pay for it or scholarships from the different organizations.

But post Covid, a lot of these Conferences have gone virtual or have a hybrid option so that you can take part at home. But it’s one of the big advantages with getting involved with a reputable, nonpartisan advocacy organization, and especially one that specializes working with moms and parents. And I feel like I have a really strong parent activist community.

I see them every time I log into my social media. We’re always cheering each other on. If you have time, I’ll tell you a little story about the first time that I really felt that and you can edit it out. Yes, please. If you don’t have time, with it. Ok. I have been involved in the advocacy organizations that I mentioned before, results and Bred for the World.

But in 2012, there was a new group that branched out from the United Nations, found. , it’s called Shot at Life. It’s means shots like immunizations. It’s dedicated to advocating for global vaccines for preventable childhood diseases like polio, measles, that kind of thing. And they invited about 40 moms of young children and a few others to be their founding volunteers.

And I was lucky to be invited. And while I love my other organizations, that particular shot at life meeting had a totally different vibe than anything that I had seen before. Cuz usually I had my activist friends and then there were my friends. At home, and they were firmly in two different buckets, but there we were all sharing stories and talking about how we could fit this new campaign into our existing mom lives instead of talking about how we had to kind of separate motherhood and advocacy and pretend to be fancy lobbyists without our kids.

and at the end they passed a microphone around so that everybody could say a few sentences about what we’ve experienced together. And when it was my turn, I stood up and I said, I feel like I found my people. I’m always the weirdo mom talking about Congress or the odd one at an advocacy meeting with my kids, but you’re all like me,

So I, I just. If you can get involved in those conferences, that’s where the people are. And in the last 10 years, there’s just a bunch of these groups have gained traction, like Mom’s Demand Action, mom’s Clean Air Force, mothers out front, and of course pta that’s been around forever. So I’m confident that your listeners can find a community somewhere like I did either in person or.

Heather: can you share any success stories from the campaigns that you’ve been personally involved in? We’d love to hear, you know, some of the outcomes because it does seem insurmountable to even brush your teeth some days when you’re postpartum . And I think it would give people some hope just to hear a little bit of the

Cynthia: success.

I would say that I have a couple different stories. Th this one that I’m gonna tell. It’s just one of my favorites because it shows a bunch of the steps of the process, but I’ll admit that one was a little bit of a slow burn. It was called the Reed Act. It was for global education and It, there’s so many steps to introducing something and then actually getting it passed.

So that particular one took about 10 years but considering that it like helps girls around the world get into school, I think it was well worth it when the read act was going to be introduced. We needed a co-sponsor and, and it’s just a, a member of Congress who’s gonna step forward and, and introduce the Bell and original co-sponsor.

So I went to, my congresswoman’s office, and I brought my four year old with me. And I for some reason had the bright idea of bringing markers with me to keep her busy. Oh God. That was the last time I ever brought markers. If you, if you want any piece of advice of something not to do in advocacy, it was like, don’t give a preschooler markers during your lobby meeting.

Heather: Oh

Cynthia: boy. But we were talking about the issue, and I’m looking at my member of Congress and her eyes start to twinkle and I’m like, oh God, what’s happening behind me? Because the way we were positioned at the table, I couldn’t see my daughter and I turned around. And she had a, a red glistening hand. She had colored her hand red, and she was looking like, where should I put this?

Should I, I’m not gonna put it on the paper that was given on me. Should I put it on mommy or the table? Every

Heather: time the answer is yes. Put it on mommy. Right .

Cynthia: So we took a break and we all went into the bathroom. And I remember like continuing the conversation in the bathroom, like washing hands. Cause my congresswoman is a grandma too.

Like she knows. But by the end of that meeting, she had agreed to co-sponsor this big global thing. So I, I tell that story to like that that was a win in a victory in itself. Just getting her to agree. And I tell that story to like show people that. Your kids can be a part of meetings, things are going to go awry, but it’s also going to be very memorable.

And I, when I brought this book to that congresswoman who’s still serving the same district, she had read these pieces cuz I, I just wanted to give her a heads up of what was in it. And she completely remembered that story. like she probably will for the rest of her life. And, and we all. Fast forwarding through the different steps.

You know, we needed to get more awareness about things, so we did things like bringing A speaker from Africa to talk about global education, to talk to hundreds of students in my kid’s school. So that’s me using my resources of like, I’m just a mom. What do I have? Well, I have a, a grade school I have access to.

So all the kids learned about it and we got some press to come to it. And you know, we, we organized people to write letters. We wrote letters to the editor in the media. And eventually we did pass this piece of education and to, or excuse me, education legislation. And right now we’re working on re re-upping that mm-hmm.

because it expired and we need to do it again. So that’s one story with a lot of the successes along the lines.

Heather: Yeah. That’s wonderful. I think, you know,

Maureen: it’s inspiring and also, folks sitting at home are like, meeting with my congressperson. I could never, because you know, most of us are like, oh yeah, I’m politically active.

I vote. I occasionally call a political person and read a script, but it, you know, those things don’t, they don’t feel like they make a difference. We kind of do them out of some obligations sometimes. What can, can we get down to some of the like concrete ways that we can influence changes effectively and also know that they’re working?

Cynthia: Yeah, I empathize with that. So hard , like how do you know that it’s working? Because like when we, especially with like the Clicktivism stuff mm-hmm. Which, which I do from time to time. You know, they say click here to submit the petition. Yeah. It’s like, okay, I clicked. I don’t know, did that do anything?

So calling and writing letters super important, especially as starting actions. But I understand. When people feel like they’re doing that a lot and they can’t see the difference that they want to. So here are my suggestions about that, and one is to take a next step to an even more impactful action.

You can still just do a quick con call to Congress, but if you take the time to. Instead of just leaving your message with the admin, ask them who is the aid that covers the issue? Because members of Congress don’t just get everything in a big pile. They have staff that one person works on taxes, one person works on health, one person works on, sometimes they would have somebody specifically working on Covid during that time that it was so, so.

and then, you know, leave a message with that aid, see if you can get them on the phone. And you might feel a little more satisfied doing that than just leaving a message with an admin because it can grow into a relationship. That aide will actually be able to tell you when progress is being made. Like one of the aide that worked for my former senator Blunt we got to be very close and candid with each other so she would be able to tell.

Exactly what point a certain bill is and sometimes tell me like, okay, it’s not getting any opposition from this point, but you may need to shore up your, your support in this other area, or something like that. So it got kind of strategic toward the end of his term there. And another step is to turn your letter to Congress into a letter to the editor.

That’s a huge members of Congress pay a lot more attention to people who regularly write media. But on the question of how do you know if , if things are working I would say either having that relationship, which does take a while to build up, or again, I’m gonna keep harping on this cuz I think it’s so important.

If you’re involved with an advocacy organization, they can tell. What’s happening, like I am not as much of a gun violence activist as I am Global Health. But when I’m involved with Mom’s Demand Action, they’re always sending me updates of how are things going in our state capitol, and, and then I know.


Heather: know, I just met with the House of Representatives for our state and had a little meeting because there was a lot of federal stuff that was just going on with breastfeeding. So the Pump Act was just passed? Yes. And the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act, and I just wanted to make sure that he knew what was up at the federal level.

And I was like, are you aware of these things? This is happening. Could we do something to prop up those federal. Laws in our state and just make sure that West Virginia women know that this is happening and that we support them. And he was like, I actually had no idea that was going on. And it, it slowly occurs to you as you meet with these people that they don’t know what they don’t know.

Like, don’t just assume that people are telling them that they’re like in all of their free time and they don’t make much money, by the way. Like they have real jobs. That’s a good point. They have. They have jobs outside of politics too that they have to keep up with and their own families. So like they’re not in their every waking moment, just like scrolling the internet for the latest, you know, advocacy things.

They’re relying. On their constituents to be like, Hey, this is important to us. Mm-hmm. . And I think that it’s absolutely okay and they want you to call, and if they don’t, they won’t pick up at that time or they’ll call you back later , but don’t ever feel like they don’t wanna hear from you. That’s literally their job.

That’d be like me being a midwife, lactation consultant and being like, God, I hope no one calls me for breastfeeding advice

Cynthia: today. , I think your points are, are excellent and especially at the state level. You know, your, your US senator has a pretty good salary and they’ve got a pretty extensive staff to help them with things, but the, sometimes I feel like the state people are just swinging in the wings.

Oh, yeah. And it’s, it’s actually a lot easier to get a meeting I feel with a state person, because number one, they’re, they’re in your state. They’re not all the way in Washington dc. But because. They’re working people and in their communities. Like we had a meeting with my state rep about a gun violence bill with my kids who were in middle school at the time, and we met outta Starbucks.

I mean, the guy didn’t have a set like I live in St. Louis. Our capital is Jefferson City, so it’s a few hours. He didn’t have a. Congressional office in St. Louis. So he had a bunch of constituent meetings back to back at our local

Heather: Starbucks. Starbucks is like, thank you so much, . Right? Thank you for your support.

Cynthia: It, these people aren’t as , as like high and mighty as you might think sometimes, and like you mentioned, they may not be opposed to your bill, they might just not know. Yeah. Or like they

Maureen: didn’t read it all, even if they know about it. That’s something I found out doing environmental advocacy, like right out of college.

I was like, oh, you didn’t read what I’m talking to you about. Cool. We’re gonna backtrack. 20 steps,

Heather: and start over. .

Cynthia: Yeah. And there’s so much, it’s

Maureen: really, yeah, I get it. I couldn’t read everything if I had

Cynthia: their job. I wrote a blog recently as compared being like, especially a freshman member of Congress to like drinking from a fire host

It’s like, it, it’s up to us to elevate the things that we want them to talk about. Mm-hmm. To that point, I have a little story about my oldest kid when they after the Parkland school shooting, felt really strongly about it. And there was a particular gun bell that we didn’t want to go through.

And this is just about How it can make a difference to, to make those calls. And my kiddo’s name is Yara and they called every single day. And it was the same woman, Diane, I think her name was, would pick up the phone and eventually would get to be like, hi, Yara. How is school today? , because the kid would call after classes Were done.

Yeah. At the same time every day waiting for me to pick them up. Aw, that’s funny. And. The admin can become an ally too. Yeah. I feel like she got kind of invested in it. . She’d be like, okay. I printed out the bill and I put it on his chair. . Yara. So , you know this is advocacy too. It’s, it’s a really personal thing sometimes.

Heather: That’s so important that you know, I never really thought about this, but I guess my parents did foster that in me and I didn’t realize that or give them credit until this moment. So let me give them some credit. . They did encourage me to write to Bill Clinton about saving the rainforest when I was little.

and I did get the, I got the letter back with the stamp, the Bill Clinton stamp on it thanking me for, you know, being excited about policy and stuff like that. And then they also had me be a page for a day. So I went to the state capitol and I was a page for our Senator, Mike Olivero, and we have a picture together.

From the nineties and him and I still talk and he, I sent him that picture just like a year ago and he laughed so hard and I was like, we should recreate this photo now that I’m 35 and I’m not 12 anymore. And he was like, this is too good. This is great. So yeah.

Maureen: I, you know, I guess I like, so I kind of forget other people d don’t like grow up with that necessarily.

I yeah, oddly enough was raised Catholic and a lot of Catholic churches have a really strong social justice component. And the schools that I went to did, they were like service trips, political actions, like constantly. It was like a class we had. . And so like I grew up with that as a very normal thing.

Like we are constantly have a campaign

Heather: to work on. Even after I left the church and

Maureen: I, like my parents sent me to some like political leadership camp as a teenager where I like spent two weeks. Wow. Washington

Cynthia: DC like

Maureen: it, we, we basically, we were like cosplaying

Heather: politicians, .

Cynthia: Nice. Nice. Without the perks

Yeah. That was fun

Maureen: though. I was like, you know, 15 or something. It was great. Yeah. But, you know, I guess it can, it can feel a little intimidating too if you realize like you, you know, you’re listening to this episode at home and you’re like, I didn’t know there were AIDS and admin people and all of these barriers to the actual like, politician I wanna talk to.

For our listeners right now today, how can they begin? What’s like one concrete thing they can as soon as they stop listening that they can go do?

Cynthia: Now, surprisingly, I’m not actually gonna say run out and buy my book . I’d like that to; I’d like that to be the second thing that they do . But I do recommend jumping online, right?

Finding an organization aligned with what you’re passionate about and take some sort of action with them because action always leads to inspiration to take more action For me, that’s what I’ve found. Don’t put it off and think, oh, I’ll do that next week. No, pump yourself up. And do it right now while you have our voices still ringing in your head.

Yes, still written for you. Say, yeah, we’re saying you can do this. So whether it’s the phone call or writing a letter, just pick something you can do for yourself without a group, and then you can buy my book or visit my blog and learn how to take a next step that you’re not so confident in doing and reach.

To that organization that you found online so you can have the support as you move on and do things together. And together, I think is just really a key word. Whether you’re talking about like a little play date with a purpose group like I had when I was first starting out, or whether you’re going to a Mom’s demand action meeting with, you know, a hundred other people, it.

It’s hard for me to even put into words, and I wrote a whole big book about it. But , the feeling that you get when you’re doing things together, it builds you up and it also adds accountability. When you. When you look at your friend and you say, oh, I’m gonna do this today, , and then you actually have to do it that day cuz otherwise you let your friend down.

So the, that’s my recommendation is just jump in and then make a plan for what is the next harder thing that you’re gonna do. I

Heather: think it’s refreshing for anybody to hear that there’s somebody out there that believes, . Yeah. You know, and we believe in you guys, you can do it. Just pick anything, literally anything, and do

Cynthia: something with it.

There’s so much to work on. Like, that’s, that’s not the excuse anymore of like, I don’t know what to do. I found that as a parent of young kids, I was often just like, you know, before I went to bed, like that’s when I would just like lay up looking. The darkness and go, I can’t get to sleep because there’s all these things swirling around that are bothering me.

Pick one of those things. ,

Heather: what’s keeping you up at night, lady? Absolutely. Okay. Well, please tell us how to find your work, like your blog and your book and all of that, and where we can learn more and give us your socials please.

Cynthia: Sure. So the best way to find me is to go to my website, which is

Changyit is my maiden name, C H A N G Y I T. And there you can find all my links to Twitter. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and of course my blog. So on Twitter and Instagram, I’m CC Y 11. And my blog has some excerpts from my book, and if you type the words, advocacy made easy. Into the search bar, you can find some of those step-by-step instructions that the book is actually based on.

So I didn’t want you know, the cost of the book to be a barrier for people to, you know, Get into it right away. And in fact, the, the book is sort of based on the blog, so you can find some good stuff out there. But you can actually buy the book from my website and there you can buy a copy that is actually autographed for you or anybody else that you would like.

but I recognize that it’s a lot easier for some people to go through Amazon Prime. So it is there and it can be ordered anywhere. Books

Heather: are sold. Well, when Cynthia’s president you’ll have an autograph copy. So there you go. . . Don’t give Jeff Bezos anymore. Money .

Cynthia: I know it is. That’s a whole other piece.

Heather: Alright, well thank you so much for coming on the show. We really appreciate it and I can’t wait. See what happens as a result of this. So if you all listening, decide to get into advocacy and you have something to report back, email us at milk minute podcast or tag Cynthia on any of her socials and let her know what you’re doing.

Would love

Cynthia: that. Thank you.

Heather: Do you have a baby that struggles with excessive gas, fussiness, colic, and general sleep problems? Well,


Maureen: did , but then I used a Vivo

Heather: Probiotics. A Vivo is a pediatrician approved probiotic for babies that’s even used in NICU on the Gentles tummies all over the United States.

Maureen: It is an amazing, unique product that contains a specific strain of Bien Fantas that we need.

To digest human milk oligosaccharides, that’s

Heather: actually 15% of breast milk that your baby will then be able to utilize. Whereas if you don’t have the bacteria, there’s so much extra in the gut, which is why American babies poop like 10 times a day more than babies that are colonized with B infants. I have

Maureen: personally seen this probiotic help my baby and the babies of many of my clients, and frankly, if we’re dealing with any of these symptom, It is the first

Heather: thing I go to, and the best part is it’s not like any other probiotic that we would take when we’re sick or taking antibiotics where you take it every time you go through antibiotics for the rest of your life.

If you give your baby a vivo in the first a hundred days of life, it actually colonizes in their gut. And becomes a part of their immune system, which then they can pass to the next generation. And this is how we make change Y’all, Aviva is amazing because it’s gonna safeguard your baby’s health today and give you peace of mind in the future.

Maureen: Check out Evivo probiotics through the link in our show

Heather: notes and enter code milk minute for $10 off.

Maureen: that was

Heather: awesome. Yeah, I cannot wait to see what everybody does as a result of this. I know we are going to get some emails from people that are already doing things . Yeah,

Maureen: absolutely. No, I, I really enjoyed that conversation. And it’s a good reminder for me to kind of get back at it. I’ve spent a lot of my life doing like political advocacy and kinda, kinda like stopped over the last five to eight years

Heather: And that’s okay too though. Like sometimes you have to. a break for yourself because instead of changing the world, we have to change our inner world. Sure. We have to change our home sometimes , you know, that’s a lot of work. And I also love that she mentions using what you have. Mm-hmm. the resources that you do have.

Sometimes you just are at a resource deficit yourself and you have to really look hard to kind of figure out what you can. So just use the resources you have. Like with my new office, I plan to bring our postpartum support group back and maybe we can build from there. Who knows? That sounds great. All right well now let’s give an award to one of our lovely listeners.

Did you wanna read it? ? No, this one’s all you. Okay, so this is an award for Chanel Doucette. Chanel says, I’ve always wanted to nurse my baby, but after some complications during delivery, we embarked on an exclusively pumping journey. Instead, I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish through three bouts of mastitis and pumping in places and situations.

I never dreamed possible, though I haven’t always made enough. We started supplementing with a bottle a day at four months. I’m officially hanging up my pumps, collection cups, flanges and everything that comes with them at 10 months. Thank you for your content and reminding us moms that what we produce is not who we are and that we are enough regardless.

Maureen: That’s amazing. Good job persevering and also just knowing when

Heather: to stop. Yeah. It’s important to know yourself and to know your baby. We’re gonna give you the Abundant Achievement Award. Ah

Maureen: Disagreed Award. You’ve achieved a lot Chanel,

Heather: and you are abundant. Within

Maureen: yourself. All right, well, wonderful job.

I’m gonna sign us off with a review. This one is from Kay Cotton, and she says This is a well needed podcast. It’s not often you listen to a podcast when you have an urgent need for health awareness. However, when a healthcare provider mentioned this as a great way to build awareness about breastfeeding, It was one of the best resources she could provide.

Thank you for sharing awareness and educating the world on this much needed subject. Sending light and love y’all’s way. Thanks, Kay.

Heather: Yeah, thank you. Thank you so much for that sweet review. We read every single one of them. And thank you for listening to another episode of the Milk Minute podcast. If

Maureen: you would like to change this crazy system that doesn’t support parents or babies or breastfeeding at all.

Well, we just gave you a couple ways that you could do that in the episode today, but you can also educate yourself and your friends and

Heather: family, and your politicians and your communities .

Maureen: If you found some value in today’s episode or any other, you can support us on and become a patron, or you can simply

Heather: spread the word.

That’s minute podcast, and we love you guys.


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