Krystal Duhaney is the owner and founder of the wildly popular lactation brand Milky Mama. As a mother of three, a registered nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), she was inspired to launch her company after her own struggles with breastfeeding her son ten years ago.
“I sought help from my healthcare provider and was told to ‘just give him formula,’” shares Duhaney. “I was determined to breastfeed, so I educated myself and was able to breastfeed my son for two years.”
There are various reasons women may not produce enough milk, including nutrition, underlying hormonal issues and other physiological barriers. New moms are often unsure of how frequently they should nurse or pump, how to tell if their baby is getting enough milk, how to pump effectively and other factors that contribute to building and maintaining an adequate supply.
When she became pregnant with her second child, Duhaney was determined to have a better breastfeeding experience. She used her knowledge as a registered nurse and researched foods and herbs that could help support her breastfeeding journey.
“I developed a cookie recipe full of ingredients that had been used for centuries to support milk production; I became certified as a lactation consultant,” she continues.
New mothers struggling with milk production can find a wide range of lactation supplements available to increase their supply and meet the feeding demands of their baby, but many are not Black-owned. Today, in addition to lactation cookies in a variety of flavors, Milky Mama also offers a full line of lactation-boosting brownies, drink mixes and smoothie mixes. The company’s products are all fenugreek-free and made with time-tested galactagogues like oats, flax seeds, brewer’s yeast and various herbs that have been used by women all over the world for centuries to support milk production.
To date, Duhaney's company has helped over 200,000 breastfeeding mothers increase their milk supply through their delicious line of lactation treats as well as their breastfeeding courses, lactation consultations and private breastfeeding support group on Facebook and live Q&A’s.
“I didn’t want to just create products,” adds Duhaney. “I wanted to create a support system where breastfeeding mothers and their supporters could connect with each other, share stories and gain the skills they needed to have successful breastfeeding journeys.”
Black women, in particular, have lower breastfeeding rates when compared to other races because of a lack of support or education regarding breastfeeding. “Black infants are far more likely to be offered formula in the hospital," explains Duhaney. "This is due to the systemic barriers the Black community faces, especially Black women, some of which date as far back as slavery.”
This is one of the reasons Duhaney created the Milky Mama Scholarship Fund. Through this fund, certification courses or exam fees are covered for Black IBCLCs.
“This is an extremely important cause for me because less than 1% of IBCLCs worldwide are Black. Due to this lack of representation, it’s more difficult for Black breastfeeding mothers to get assistance from someone that understands the unique struggles that Black breastfeeding mothers may face. By increasing the representation in the lactation field, I hope that will also contribute to greater breastfeeding rates within the Black community and better outcomes for Black maternal health,” says the Milky Mama founder.