Lactation & Breastfeeding Dyads
A dual interview with Dairian Roberts, MS, OTR/L, CLEC, NCS and Marissa Yahil MSOT, OTR/L, CBS
Founders of The Lactation OT
Darian Roberts, MS, OTR/L, CLEC, NCS is an Occupational Therapist who specializes in holistic postpartum care with a focus on lactation. She owns and operates a private practice called Humbled by Motherhood, which serves families in the Greater Los Angeles area. She works with families in the perinatal period and focuses on empowering families through education.
Dairian offers comprehensive and holistic care with regards to lactation, infant care and development, as well as postpartum care. She is also passionate about helping other therapists and women of color to specialize in lactation. She offers business coaching and mentorship for other therapists in starting a lactation practice or wanting to provide more culturally competent care. Last – but not least – she is also one of the Co-Founders of The Lactation OT, a platform to highlight other therapists in this specialty area as well as educate and inspire other therapists.
Marissa Yahil, MSOT, OTR/L, CBS is an Occupational Therapist who specializes in lactation and infant feeding. She owns and operates a private practice called Lactation & Development Resources, which serves mothers perinatally and infants ages 0-6 months. Prenatally, she educates and empowers clients with evidence-based information about lactation, breastfeeding, and bottle feeding so that they can go into their birth as prepared as possible. Postpartum, Marissa offers a holistic and integrated approach to lactation support and feeding therapy in order to help her clients achieve their individual goals.
Marissa is also passionate about helping other OTs as well as SLPs and PTs transition to specialize in this unique area of practice. She offers business consulting and mentorship for other therapists in starting a lactation practice. She is also one of the Co-Founders of The Lactation OT.
In this dual interview, Dairian and Marissa share some personal insight into how they found their inspiration, motivation, and confidence in pursuing the path of specializing in lactation and breastfeeding dyads, and how they came to be the influential platform creators of The Lactation OT.
What inspired you to begin your work in lactation?
Dairian: Like many others, I became interested in lactation through my own personal experience of breastfeeding my first child. We had many difficulties, and it was extremely difficult to find culturally competent care. Soon after we got into our groove, I started my journey in women’s health, then specialized in lactation.
Marissa: My mother breastfed me and shared with me how wonderful her experience was… how easy it all came together for us. Most women in my family breastfeed without any issues. It wasn’t until I nannied for two families in college that I realized breastfeeding often does not come easily for many mothers. The breastfeeding mothers I worked for dealt with nipple pain and damage, stress related to keeping up with the washing of pump parts, and the difficulty of juggling a newborn and a jealous toddler. Fast forward to OT school... I was presented with the opportunity to complete one of my level-two fieldwork placements at a local Breastfeeding Clinic.
How did you begin to take those first steps to differentiate yourself as an emerging professional in this area?
Dairian: I first became a postpartum doula to really get in tune with the journey women take into motherhood. Once I got more training in lactation, I used my knowledge of the body systems to bring more education to my clients about the baby's role in breastfeeding. Our knowledge of oral motor skills also made me stand out in the area of tethered oral tissues.
Marissa: I met the requirements to sit for the IBCLC exam (90 lactation education hours and 1000 clinical lactation hours), and to differentiate myself, I also focused on developing my skills in feeding therapy (specifically with infants), oral motor therapy, and manual therapy (infant massage, craniosacral therapy, and myofascial release).
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working with these women in need of your specialty?
Dairian: Seeing all the cute babies! Honestly, helping moms reach their goals of feeding their babies in the way they have chosen to do so.
Marissa: Helping mamas learn to trust themselves and connect with their babies. Sometimes this means recognizing that breastfeeding won't look how they dreamed it would look and learning to accept that (for example... situations where the mother has true low supply related to mammary hypoplasia or prior breast surgery).
How would you encourage other occupational therapists to pursue a similar career in lactation?
Dairian: Find quality lactation education courses, then start putting yourself out there and working with families. It’s not enough to give anecdotal advice. As therapists, we know the importance of evidence-based care. There are many ways to start incorporating working with breastfeeding families into your schedule. Find what fits your passion, make a plan, and find a mentor.
Marissa: Most therapists are breastfeeding advocates. This is nice, but it is not what most mothers who are struggling with breastfeeding need. If you are seriously considering specializing in lactation, I recommend working to become a local breastfeeding expert. Check out The Lactation OT at www.lactationOT.com (Dairian’s and my business) for free help and guidance, continuing education opportunities, and mentorship opportunities. Also, join The Lactation OT Community on Facebook. Best of luck!
Dairian Roberts, MS, OTR/L, CLEC, NCS
Master of Science in Occupational Therapy: University of Illinois at Chicago (2013) Certificated Lactation Educator Counselors (CLEC)
Newborn Care Specialist (NCS)
IBCLC 2020 Candidate*
Marissa Yahil, MSOT, OTR/L, CBS
Master of Science in Occupational Therapy: Salus University (2017)
Certified Breastfeeding Specialist (CBS): Lactation Education Resources , 90 hour program
IBCLC 2020 Candidate*
If you wish to connect with either Dairian or Marissa to learn more about each of their specialized practice styles, approaches, and methods of intervention, or have questions specifically about pursuing this area of practice, you can connect with them at:
Humbled by Motherhood
Los Angeles, California www.humbledbymotherhood.com
Instagram:@humbledbymotherhood Facebook: Humbled by Motherhood
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Lactation & Development Resources Plano, Texas www.lactdev.com
Instagram: @lactdev Facebook: Lactation & Development Resources
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The Lactation OT
www.LactationOT.com Instagram: @lactation_ot
Facebook: The Lactation OT & The Lactation OT community