Melissa Bradshaw, RN, is a board-certified lactation consultant at James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital at Vidant Medical Center Greenville, North Carolina.
Personal connection: I became interested in breastfeeding after I had my first child in 2005. When I came back to work, it was near and dear to my heart because it was something I was going through. My life experience helps me relate to other moms' struggles and the things that are difficult for them. I can tell them breastfeeding is not always easy, but it is always worth it.
No typical day: I have a great group of coworkers. There's usually three to four of us here each day. We just started a new case management system where each of us are following clients to check in with them at least once a week to make sure they're supported through their journey with their babies in the NICU. I see clients every day, whether it be with their babies here in the hospital, whether they're having troubles, or I'm just answering questions about basic breastfeeding issues.
I may be working with a mom who's got a premature baby and making sure she knows how to pump, how often to pump, how to store her milk, bring her milk from home to the hospital, and make sure she has an appropriate breast pump. I also see women for outpatient consults—maybe they have left the hospital with their baby and come back in for help.
Best part of the job: I always tell the women I work with that I want them to feel better when they're leaving me versus when they came in. I'm just making sure they're trying to meet their goals, and I meet them where they are, knowing that not everybody has the same goal. The best part for me is trying to help them reach whatever goal they have.
Most memorable patient: There are so many! My most recent memorable one I've become very close with took our breastfeeding class—that's how she started to get to know us—and I worked with her in the hospital. She had a couple of struggles, and breastfeeding was so important to her. She used to see me monthly in the outpatient clinic, and I followed her progress. Her baby's now 7 months old and has been exclusively breastfeeding. It's been amazing to watch her journey.