Scheduler Sandra Alamillo, Breastfeeding Medicine Physician Dr. Katrina Mitchell, Registered Nurse Specialist Janin Avants, Medical Assistant Jessica Carmona. | Credit: Courtesy

Aug. 23, 2021 (Santa Barbara, CA) – Ridley-Tree Cancer Center’s Katrina Mitchell, MD, IBCLC, FACS, a skilled breast surgeon and certified lactation consultant, is passionate about providing women critically-needed support while breastfeeding.  She offers a free prenatal breastfeeding class and private consultations to all women in our community. August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.  Many  new moms struggle with the practice of breastfeeding. Challenges include nipple pain, infection, maintaining or increasing milk supply, and the physical and logistical difficulties related to pumping when returning to work. One-on-one counseling and care greatly benefits women during this vulnerable time, and Dr. Mitchell is an advocate for ensuring our local moms are supported. 

One in five new mothers experience depression and/or anxiety in the first year of a baby’s life, and breastfeeding challenges often play a part in this. “We know that in many cases women do not breastfeed as long as they intend to, due to complications. If we can come alongside mothers and help them, this greatly increases their chances of breastfeeding for longer periods,” commented Dr. Mitchell.  Fellowship-trained in breast surgical oncology, Dr. Mitchell is also certified in perinatal mental health, and she can provide evaluation and treatment for prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety.

The Ridley-Tree team that assists Dr. Mitchell includes schedulers, nurses, and medical assistants who help to triage mothers with breastfeeding concerns, especially those with urgent needs.  “New moms are especially vulnerable in the time between birth and six months postpartum, as they learn to breastfeed, care for their infant and heal their own body after birth,” adds Dr. Mitchell.  

When new mother and Laguna Blanca School teacher Jennifer Sawyers Pardue ran into severe breastmilk oversupply problems causing pain, clogs and infections, she reached out to Dr. Mitchell for assistance. “I thought I would give up on breastfeeding at one point since it was so overwhelming,” describes the 32 year-old. Away from family during the pandemic, Jennifer struggled to stay positive mentally. Zoom therapy was not ideal, so she relied on Dr. Mitchell’s regular check-ins.

She was amazing,” remarks Jennifer. “I felt she could relate to me, and she verified that there is much misinformation out there about oversupply.”  It took about a month to get her issues under control, but now Jennifer and her 8 month-old son, Asher are thriving.

Brazilian actress Fey Machado met Dr. Mitchell at the school both of their sons attend.  Fey was shocked at the lactation challenges she experienced with her second son, Leo, after breastfeeding her first son, Lucca, until he was 3. Once in Dr. Mitchell’s care, Fey increased her breastmilk production that had dropped off, and her supply problems were resolved. “It is impossible to get through something like this without help,” comments Fey. “I had the best help, and I trust Dr. Mitchell completely.  She really saved us.


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