In celebration of IBCLC Day, we’re asking IBCLCs of all sorts to reflect a bit on what makes them essential within their communities. Today, we highlight Shannon Riley, an IBCLC working as a Registered Nurse on the Mother and Infant Care Center and as a Lactation Consultant at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.
What makes an IBCLC essential in my community?
Most healthcare workers spend carefully designated time learning about specific topics related to their field through school and training. However, they likely did not receive much more information about breastfeeding during their education than a few “catch all” phrases, such as the now-famous “breast is best”.
But what does that mean? Why is it the best? Even if I endorse it for obvious reasons, how do I serve the mother who is panicking with her newborn? How do I help?
These are the questions I asked myself as a Labor/Delivery/Postpartum Nurse for about a decade before I took purposeful steps to learn more about what the current science and hooplah around breastfeeding is! I LOVE that it’s now my full-time job to be closely connected to what is current and to be sharing any gained experience with my fellow healthcare providers who are often handling a myriad other responsibilities in their positions. These days, our patients expect and deserve that we all to be able to address basic breastfeeding so I see my function as this: like a lake-tossed pebble that creates that rolling “ripple effect”.
At my first ILCA conference in 2011, I heard it said, “If we do our jobs right, we won’t need Lactation Consultants someday”. I think we’re safe to keep our jobs for now but that statement really resonated with me!
Shannon Riley, RNC-OB, IBCLC started her career in the US Army Nurse Corps after attending Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. After serving on active duty from 1999-2005, she and her husband came to the Washington DC area. She enjoys her continued service to military families as a Registered Nurse on the Mother and Infant Care Center and as a Lactation Consultant at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. She obtained her IBCLC in 2009. She is married to her best friend and they have two very fun kids, 5 and 3. Her daughter has suggested more than once that Shannon is employed as a wet nurse.