mom boss Krystal Nicole Duhaney who started Milky Mama
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Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor

How to Conquer Breastfeeding Struggles, From the Founder of Milky Mama

Breastfeeding may be natural, but it sure as heck isn’t second nature.

The Bump presents #MomBoss, a series dedicated to showing off all-star moms. We catch up with mompreneurs behind products we love, influencers who get real about motherhood and SAHMs who can multitask in their sleep.

We talk a lot about how breastfeeding is a natural process, but just because nursing is natural for the body doesn’t mean it’s second nature for Mom. Despite the fact that she’s a registered nurse (RN), when Krystal Nicole Duhaney became a mother, her experience breastfeeding her son was, to put it gently, a nightmare. Sore nipples, clogged ducts, mastitis—her nursing struggles ran the gauntlet. Which is why she was determined things would be different the second time around.

Education and awareness were her armor, and her homemade lactation cookies became her secret weapon. Which lead the nurse, mom of two and now International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to launch Milky Mama, a platform that offers products, services and a community of support to help every mother reach her breastfeeding goals, whatever they may be.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led to Milky Mama.

My breastfeeding journey with my first child, my son, was rough! I battled nipple pain caused by latching issues, clogged ducts, mastitis—you name it, I experienced it! Despite being an RN with a wealth of healthcare knowledge, I still found it very difficult to navigate my breastfeeding journey, and was unable to find places to turn to for help. Although it was a struggle, we nursed until my son was a little over 2 years old.

When I became pregnant with my daughter, I was determined to have a much better breastfeeding experience. I began researching ways to help support my own breastfeeding journey, and discovered that so many other mothers had struggled the same way I had. I developed a delicious cookie recipe that was full of ingredients known to promote milk production (think: galactagogues!) and obtained certification as a lactation consultant. And just like that, Milky Mama was born!

Photo: Milky Mama

Can you tell us a little bit about the Milky Mama platform?

Milky Mama is a community for breastfeeding parents that provides support, education and empowerment to help individuals reach their breastfeeding goals. Parents have access to lactation consultations, assistance with flange sizing, weekly live question and answer sessions, breastfeeding classes, a free support group and more. We also provide delicious lactation supplements to help support their milk production.

Is there a treat that specifically helped you the most?

The first product I formulated is now our signature, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookie and it definitely holds a special place in my heart (and my boobs!). When I paired this treat with nursing or pumping, I found it really helped me to maintain my milk supply.

What are some of the constant best-sellers?

Our best sellers are our famous Emergency Brownies, Lactation LeMOOnade, Lactation Cookies and herbal supplements. Thanks to our various treats, dinks and supplements, we definitely have something for everyone!

Photo: Milky Mama

What was it like returning to work while breastfeeding?

Returning to work after having my son was very stressful. I was unprepared, often worried about my milk supply and unaware of my rights to pump at work. Thankfully, things were very different the second time around. When I returned to work after having my daughter, I was much more confident that I would be successful. I became knowledgeable of the laws protecting my right to pump at work, and made arrangements with my employer to develop the perfect pumping schedule. With the support of my employer and coworkers, pumping at work the second time around was much less stressful.

Was there a product you wouldn’t have survived without?

I wouldn’t have survived without my hands-free pumping bra. It allowed me to have access to my hands in order to perform hands-on pumping, as well as eat and surf Instagram.

Any tips for new moms who are breastfeeding and planning to return to work?

Yes! Here are my golden rules to breastfeeding when you’re back at work:

  • Check your flanges for the correct size! More than 40 percent of moms are using the incorrect flange size, which can cause pain, nipple damage, clogged ducts, poor pump output and can decrease your supply over time
  • Begin pumping about two weeks prior to returning to work. This will help you get comfortable and accustomed to pumping, and will allow you time to correct any initial issues that arise
  • Get an extra set of pump parts—you never know when something is going to break or get left at home on the drying rack
  • Research the laws in your state regarding pumping at work. The National Conference of State Legislatures has great resources covering laws for every state
  • Scope out your pumping area a few days before returning to work, so you know where you’ll be pumping and can make a productive game plan
  • Have photos and videos of your baby on hand. It may help stimulate your letdown by increasing oxytocin levels

What’s something that helped you de-stress while breastfeeding?

Not comparing myself to other moms. It’s easy to second guess yourself when other moms have their babies sleeping through the night, potty trained and reading novels by 6 months old. But in all seriousness, once I accepted and embraced my individual breastfeeding journey, it made it much less stressful and much more enjoyable.

What advice do you have for women who are facing breastfeeding struggles?

Ask for help. Find an IBCLC that can help you troubleshoot your breastfeeding issues. Having a supportive lactation consultant on your team can make a world of a difference.

Published August 2019

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Photo: Troy Harvey / Milky Mama