Lyn Slatter Memorial Scholarship Winner: Michelle Mitchell

Hello, I’m Michelle Mitchell (Hamrosi) and I live on the South Coast of NSW, near Batemans Bay. I work part time as a General Practitioner in two different clinics (one purely in general practice and the other is a private midwifery clinic). I also work part time for ANU as a lecturer in the Department of Rural Medicine. My volunteer work is with the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), of which I have been a member since 2012, and qualified as a Breastfeeding Counsellor in 2014.

I’m a first generation Australian – my dad arrived in Australia post WW2 from the Czech republic and later brought my Polish mum over in the seventies. I was raised on a small acreage near The Dangenong Ranges in Victoria where we grew mainly raspberries and also kept a variety of animals over the years. It’s no surprise, then, that one of my main hobbies is gardening. I’m currently setting up my own organic garden with worm farms and chickens as well as native pockets and verge). I’m inspired by the local native flora and fauna to create a habitat suited for my local environment. My other interests are bushwalking, camping, music, knitting and cooking. Medically, my interests include nutritional and environmental medicine, women’s and children’s health and of course breastfeeding! I love supporting one breastfeeding woman at time but my long term dream is to make a difference on a population level as well. After all, increasing breastfeeding rates and duration worldwide would be the most significant population health intervention imaginable!

My journey into lactation medicine first began with joining ABA and attending my local ABA group in Tasmania, after my first daughter was born. When she was 7 months old, we moved to NSW. On planning our departure, I found out my new town didn’t have an ABA group. So I signed up as a trainee with hopes to start my own group. Much to my excitement, I found out there was another trainee in my region, and together we started ABA Eurobodalla in 2013. The following year my son was born (18 months apart from my daughter) and life got really busy. Especially as my daughter, who had weaned while I was pregnant, decided she wanted to come back to breastfeeding. So we started our adventures in tandem feeding. At ABA meetings, especially in the middle of a presentation, they would both want a feed. It was really quite a juggle, especially as they got older, to try and run a meeting with two toddlers nursing on my lap! My daughter is now about to start school and my son, who I weaned about a year ago, is now claiming he will have ownership of one side when the new baby arrives! Baby number 3 is due in early February! It’s nice to know I have normalized breastfeeding in my family, especially as my mother and mother-in-law did not have the same support or information as I did.

I’d like to say a big thank you to LCANZ for your support in my studies and in awarding me the Lyn Slatter Memorial award. I feel very honoured!

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