Illustrated portrait of Amanda Watters  Gorman
Illustration: John Jay Cabuay

Nest Collaborative was born at 2 a.m. when Amanda Gorman struggled, bleary-eyed, to nurse her screaming, hungry infant and – like many mothers before her – found nowhere to turn.

Gorman, a highly educated nurse, was determined to breastfeed both her babies. But in the process, she endured pain; bleeding; inflamed breasts; a baby who failed to thrive; and many sleepless, desperate nights.

She wasn’t alone. “I was a child of the ’80s. My mom formula-fed me. I had never seen a woman breastfeed,” she says. “I’m a pediatric nurse practitioner, and yet I knew nothing about nursing.”

After falling out of favor for much of the 20th century – only 22% of mothers breastfed in 1972 – breastfeeding is on the upswing. Now, 83% of new mothers nationwide nurse their newborns. Unfortunately, about a third stop within six months, despite research showing that both moms and babies do better the longer mom nurses.

Experts agree that nursing promotes babies’ growth and development – yet where was support for moms unable to afford $200-plus for a lactation consultant? Gorman was determined to find out. To her surprise, she discovered that breastfeeding support is covered by the Affordable Care Act and has to be provided free to nursing mothers.

So she got busy. With the help of crowdfunding from IFundWomen, Gorman raised $10,000, formed Nest Collaborative, started helping moms via telehealth, and billed their insurance plans. It was 2017, and few understood videoconferencing. “I was told that women were not going to take their shirts off in front of a computer,” recalls Gorman. “To which I responded, ‘You've never tried to breastfeed.’”

Her idea gained traction, and when COVID hit in 2020, Gorman was ready. Nest Collaborative went public, raising $2.1 million of financing in January 2021 and several million dollars more since then. Today, the company serves families in all 50 states, plus military families in Guam, Germany, and Kuwait.

Gorman’s advice: Listen to your gut. “No one knows how awful those first few weeks can be. I found myself stuck in a problem … and I saw a solution. I had to bring it forward.”

– Katherine Conrad for UCSF Magazine

Read the Winter 2023 Issue