Taya Griffin is the most badass breastfeeding advocate we know and we’re so excited to have her as our Sage Woman Series continues!
Need breastfeeding tips? Goddess knows every nursing mama can use a few! Breastfeeding can be one of the most intimate and rewarding experiences for moms. It’s not uncommon to face a couple of blips along the way, so we connected with Taya Griffin, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, to get the know-how on all-things breastfeeding.
In our Sage Woman Q+A series, wise women share their knowledge with Tenth Moon Mother Care in the spirit of empowerment and sisterhood.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding, for both mama and babe?
Breastfeeding can be an incredibly rewarding (and health-boosting!) experience for both mother and baby. I would say that personally it was one of the most meaningful relationships I have had. One of my guru’s, Dr. Jack Newman, speaks to the idea that there is so much more to breastfeeding than breastmilk alone!
While mothers often breastfeed for the health of their babies, the World Health Organization places, directly in their statement about breastfeeding, the fact that mothers also benefit extensively from breastfeeding. Mother has a lower risk of postpartum hemorrhage and lowered risk of breast and ovarian cancers among other benefits.
For baby, breastfeeding reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, contributes to normal palate and teeth development, reduces the risk of childhood leukaemia and many other health benefits.
What are some of the most common concerns you hear from first-time breastfeeding moms? And what is your approach to overcoming those challenges?
I work with babies as young as hours old and with infants that are well over a year and the challenges that I see are so different. There are however a few common issues that I see arising within the first few weeks and month of life.
Sore nipples – Pain is never easy. Pain when you are trying to sustain the life of your helpless baby can be extremely challenging. I see many mothers who have been told that their latch is looking “good” but who are still experiencing pain in the nipples.
This pain is often described as “glass ripping the nipples”, “pinching”, “biting”, etc. While some degree of sensitivity may be normal in the first few days or weeks of nursing, as the nipples get used to the frequency of feeds, pain is NOT normal! If mother is experiencing painful nipples then getting good help is important.
Supply concerns – The number one reason why mothers give up breastfeeding is because they feel they do not have enough for their baby. The key is to make sure you get good help from an experienced lactation consultant who can teach you what it looks like when baby is actually getting milk. Getting off to a good start is also important when considering milk supply so make sure that if you feel things are not going well to get good help as soon as possible.
“Get good help from an experienced lactation consultant who can teach you what it looks like when baby is actually getting milk.”
What can women and their families do to prepare for successful breastfeeding?
The key to preparing for breastfeeding is to actually prepare for breastfeeding! Many mothers will prepare with great intensity for their birth. They also hire birth doulas and discuss their birth plans at length. These mothers often tell me that they didn’t even consider breastfeeding. That birth was the priority. It is my passion to educate mothers about breastfeeding as, if we follow World Health Organization guidelines, it lasts for longer than birth! Up to two years and beyond ideally.
Reading about breastfeeding, watching online videos and attending a prenatal breastfeeding class taught by an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant can be very important. Another important thing to do is to actually watch a mother breastfeed and to ask her questions about her experience.
If the mother is the first of her friends to have a baby and doesn’t have someone that will let her watch, attending a La Leche League (look for a schedule at www.lllc.org) is a huge help. La Leche League is an organization run by volunteer mothers who are passionate about breastfeeding. Attended by prenatal mothers and nursing mothers it is a lovely way to get information about breastfeeding and even meet new friends!
I teach prenatal breastfeeding classes in the west end of Toronto (westendmamas.com) and in the east end (torontoyogamamas.com) as well as privately. A good class will have mothers practicing the latch with dolls and show videos on how to tell the difference between a suck and a drink, etc.
What are the best things folks can do to support breastfeeding moms?
The best thing to do to support a breastfeeding mother is to support the MOTHER! A mother who is breastfeeding often doesn’t need anyone to take baby away from her and care for baby, rather she is the one that requires tender loving care. Someone to cook and clean for her. Someone to ask her how she is doing mentally. And also someone to find her good help if she feels that the breastfeeding is not going well.
A lot of moms find pumping difficult + exhausting. What are your tips for successful pumping?
I follow a philosophy where pumping is not required. Prenatally I teach that you need not purchase a pump until after your baby is born. After birth if a baby is not latching on, mother will need to rent a hospital grade pump. However, if mother is unsure what pumping may look like then my advice is to get breastfeeding off to a good start and assess whether a single, electric pump or even a hand pump may do for the occasional time that mother will need to be apart from her baby. The only time a mother may consider purchasing a good, double electric pump before birth is when she is going back to work before the year mark. See below for more on that!
“When returning to work, feeding baby in the morning, the evening and on weekends can keep up the milk supply until baby and mother are ready to wean.”
Do you have any tips for women heading back to work who want to continue breastfeeding?
This question can have many answers as it really depends on when a mother is going back to work. If mother is returning before a year she most likely will need to purchase a pump and pump when baby needs to feed. Keeping up feeds when mother is with baby is important. However, if a mother is returning to work at the year mark, which many in Canada do, then there is no need to pump during the day. Feeding baby in the morning and the evening, and of course on weekends, can allow the closeness of the bond and also keep up the milk supply until baby and mother are ready to wean.
What are your favourite books or other resources for nursing mamas?
I love the book “Breastfeeding Made Simple – 7 Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers” by Kathleen Kendall- Tackett and Nancy Mohrbacher. It has a lovely feel to it and speaks to a mother’s heart. I also like La Leche League’s, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding“. It guides mothers through their breastfeeding journey week-by-week and month-by-month so is easily digestible and less overwhelming. I also love “Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding” by Dr. Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman.
Taya Griffin, IBCLC, is a Lactation Consultant in the Toronto area. She is passionate about prenatal breastfeeding education and sees mothers at home, in the hospital, and in a clinic setting postpartum to help them to reach their breastfeeding goals. She teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes at Toronto Yoga Mamas, West End Mamas, and sees clients at Kidcrew Lactation Clinic (www.kidcrew.com). She has two daughters, whom she wishes were still babies! Alas, they are growing up too quickly! You can find Taya at www.tayagriffin.com. Happy Nursing!
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