A review of the Haakaa milk collector breast pump for new moms
Milk collector breast pumps like the Haaka look pretty weird – but don’t let that fool you. That piece of silicone, halfway between a squishy bottle and a manual breast-pump, is going to make your nursing journey so much easier.
A friend told me to try a Haaka and I’m so glad she did. She had been using it while nursing to catch the leaking milk from the other breast – and saved enough milk to start a freezer stash without trying.
Even though I had a pump already I decided to give a milk collector a try and it turned out to be one of my favourite baby items. Cheap and almost effortless to use – I’m only sorry it wasn’t invented in time for my first two babies.
Read on to learn why moms are raving about the Haakaa. In particular, we’ll cover how to attach and use your Haaka, how silicone pumps work and their benefits for you as a breastfeeding mom – plus all my top tips for getting more milk with less effort.
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What’s a Haakaa pump and what’s it for?
Sometimes, something so simple – and brilliant – comes along, that you wonder why it didn’t exist sooner.
Haakaa is one of those things.
A single unit made of food grade silicone that’s pliable so you can squash it in your hand – this little gadget saved me so much time. The bottom part is a bulb shaped bottle with a flat base so you can stand it up and the neck is a flange that attaches to your breast with suction.
It’s simple – while you breastfeed, you’ll probably find that milk naturally leaks out of your other breast. The Haakaa is designed to be used during nursing to collect that leaking milk from the second breast. This saves you time by saving milk that would otherwise have ended up in a nursing pad and been thrown away. Instant milk stash!
Another option is to try breast shells for leakage. These work well (and are great for wearing when your nipples are sore and need to heal) . But the Haakaa is far bigger than a breast shell and allows you to collect a much larger volume of milk without the need to empty it.
A Haaka is intended as a leak catcher – but as we’ll see, they do way more than that.
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How silicone manual breast pumps work
That’s because it’s not just a leaking milk catcher – your Haakaa pump actually pulls more milk from your breast.
When I tried it, I found it did more than collect the drips – because you attach it to your breast by squeezing the bulb and creating a vacuum, it actually sucks milk from your breast.
The suction stimulates your breast to let milk down and then it flows rather than just dripping. While I was pumping or baby was nursing on one breast, the Haakaa pumped the other!
The benefits of a Haaka pump for a breastfeeding mom
Mums love the Hakka because it’s so easy and convenient. And we love that right? Because there’s not much about being a new mom – especially a breastfeeding new mom – that’s easy and convenient. Great result for less effort? Count me in!
Here are a few of the benefits of using a Haakaa.
Silicone pumps are great for your milk supply
By removing that extra milk from your other breast, you tell your body to make more milk. It’s a double bonus – milk for the freezer today and bigger supply in the future. You can read more tips for increasing breast milk supply here.
In a world where breast pumps are expensive, Haakaas are cheap – you can easily get one for under $20.
It’s small and light so you can take it with you.
Going on a trip out and know you’ll need to pump a little breastmilk to avoid getting engorged? A Haakaa is ideal for that. Also the components come with a carry case that’s pliable so you don’t need to carry a heavy pumping bag – all you need is your regular purse with your Haakaa pouch in it.
It’s also very quiet – even silent
While an electric breast pump will give a constant hum, a silicone pump doesn’t make any noise at all. Great for not drowning out the TV.
It’s very easy to keep clean
The original Haakaa is a single lightweight piece of silicone. You don’t have to take apart and wash a whole bunch of pieces you just need to wash it up – a bottle brush will help – and sterilise it. I think that’s one of my favourite things about it as I’ve done a lot of pumping and a lot of pump washing. You’re also not going to lose any small parts because there aren’t any.
Haakaa is almost effortless to use
Once you have your Haakaa attached, there really isn’t very much at all that you need to do to keep the milk collecting happening. Perhaps you need to stop your baby from kicking it off your boob or you might need to reposition or adjust the suction once or twice to keep the milk flowing, but that really is it. It’s a pretty passive activity.
(Just don’t get so unaware of your silicone breastpump that you let it overfill and fall off because I’ve had that happen and we know how sad spilt breastmilk is!)
But how exactly DO you use a silicone breast pump? Let’s think about that next…
How to use a Haakaa breast pump
To use a Haakaa, you simply attach it to your breast while your infant suckles or you pump on the other side. Because your baby or the pump is stimulating your let-down, you will find that your milk just flows once you have established suction.
Then you can relax while Haaka does the work for you.
How to put it on
Before using your Haakaa, sterilise it by boiling in hot water for five minutes or steam sterilising it. Once it has cooled down, you are ready to attach the Haakaa to your breast. Do NOT attach it while it is hot.
To attach it, place the flange over your breast with your nipple in the neck of the Haakaa. Try to come at your breast from below like your baby would – just imagine bringing a baby chin first to the breast. Do that with the Haakaa. Try not to let your nipple touch the silicone to avoid friction. Once you are happy with the position, squeeze the round body of the pump and release to create suction.
You will feel the pressure of the suction and can release and try again if it’s too strong. The tighter you squeeze the bulb, the stronger the suction will be. Once it is attached comfortably, you should start to see milk begin to drip into the bulb.
Want to SEE how to attach your Haakaa?
Would a demonstration help? Watch this awesome video from The Pregnant Doula.
Now you’re comfy, let’s think about getting the milk flowing.
How to get breastmilk to let down with a silicone breast pump
If you are using your Haaka while nursing your baby, you will normally see milk begin to flow into it at the same time as you feel let down with your baby. So when you notice your baby starting to gulp down milk you should also be seeing a steady trickle of milk into the bulb of your Haaka or Nature Bond.
If you’ve got your Haaka positioned comfortably but no milk is coming there are a few things you can do to help it along. Start by squeezing and massaging your breast to encourage let down or, if you find gentle heat helpful, apply a warm flannel.
Reposition the Haaka to get more milk
You can also try repositioning the pump to try and target different milk ducts. By moving the pump slightly to the left or right or a little higher or just angling it a little differently as you attach it, you can change where the pressure of the vacuum is hitting your breast and that can make a difference to your letdown.
If you’re pumping with a traditional manual or electric breast pump and using the silicone pump on the other side, then the other option is to switch sides. Sometimes you’ll find that one breast responds better to a certain kind of stimulation than to another.
So you might find that you’re getting loads and loads of milk with your Haaka on one side and loads of milk with your manual or electric pump on the other side and then it slows right down or even stops. If that happens, just switch sides. The new sensation of a different kind of stimulation on you breast can get the milk to start flowing again even though it had almost stopped.
If you’re using a silicone pump while nursing, you could do the same thing – just switch baby on to the other side and put the Haaka where the baby had been. (Your baby might not be too happy, though.)
Tips for using the Haakaa while nursing
As mentioned above, milk collector pumps are intended to be used during nursing to avoid wasting that precious milk without any additional effort from you.
First, latch your baby on and once they are nursing happily, attach your Haakaa on the other breast to grab all that leaking milk for your freezer stash. It’s up to you whether you use your milk collector at every feed or once-a-day – maybe for a feed when you know you always have loads of milk. (It was 4 AM from me.)
Sometimes, you might not get a lot of milk at once but if you use your Haakaa several times a day while breastfeeding, the milk will build up. At the end of the day, you can pour all of the day’s milk into a bag or bottle and freeze for when you need it.
Try different nursing positions
You’ll have your favourite breastfeeding positions, but trying new ones might make the Haaka work better for you. Some babies wriggle a lot while nursing and even though the Haaka suckers on pretty tight, they can still knock it off – especially if it’s getting full and heavy.
Don’t be discouraged though – a change of nursing position could make all the difference and keep your milk safe and you dry!
If you prefer to nurse cradle or cross cradle, there’s a good chance that the Haaka will be close to your feeding baby. That’s fine if you have a settled baby but not great if you have a kicker. Try nursing underarm (football style) and the baby’s body will be on the other side of you from the Haaka.
Once your baby is a little older they might like to sit up facing you and nurse and that can work really well (if they don’t pull it off.) Just angle them a little round to the side of your body to keep them away from the Haaka.
With a newborn, the laid back position is also a good one for keeping the Haaka out of baby’s way. (You need to be propped up with pillows so you aren’t lying flat.) Just angle the Haaka away from your baby and hold them on the other side of your body.
You can attach your Haaka while nursing in a lot of positions – try different ways to see what works. It’s also worth coming back to positions that don’t seem to work and keeping trying because sometimes you and your baby just need time to adapt and learn how to make it work.
If you get a lot of milk with your Haaka in a single session, keep a fresh breastmilk bottle beside you so you can pour it in and screw the lid down
Tips for using your Haakaa while pumping with a single breast pump
My favourite way to use my Haakaa is to recreate double pumping without the hospital-grade breast-pump price-tag. As a mom who has always pumped alongside breastfeeding (as opposed to pumping exclusively), I am aiming to supplement my nursing. I don’t own a double electric pump because I don’t need one.
Over the years, I’ve acquired a single manual pump, a single electric and also now my Haakaa. When you’re pumping, it’s obviously quicker to pump both breasts at once and a Haakaa works great for that.
If you want to double pump alongside breastfeeding cheaply and easily, using your single electric or manual pump with a Haaka on the other breast will be a great time saver. Less time pumping and more milk gained.
You could use two manual pumps or an electric pump and a manual (and that’s what I did before I had my Haaka) but, unless you have a pumping bra, that means holding both pumps to your breasts for the whole session. It’s pretty hands-on and labor-intensive to double pump that way but if you use a Haaka pump on one side, you will have a free hand – think how useful that will be.
Using a silicone breast pump for double pumping is great for mamas who want to pump more milk faster – with less effort and no hefty up-front investment.
If you switch breasts every five to ten minutes, both breasts will get a lot of stimulation and you will collect a lot of milk for your baby. Keep pumping for a few minutes extra after the milk stops flowing if you need to build your supply.
Which Haakaa model is right for you ?
The silicone breastpump has been around for a couple of years now so you have several models to choose from when it comes to ordering yours.
This is the original Haakaa pump which is a light one-piece and comes with a fabric storage pouch and a cover for the flange. In many, many uses, I’m pretty sure I only knocked it over once. The one I used the most is actually a Nature Bond and it’s been a brilliant purchase.
I’ve never felt the need to go beyond this basic model because it’s simplicity and convenience were just what I was looking for. If you’d like a few more features, check out the 2nd and 3rd generation models below.
Some customers must have spilled milk more often because Haakaa came out with this newer version, which includes a suction base so you won’t knock it over. It’s a helpful addition and doesn’t add to the price by much. You can also get one with a cute stopper like this:
The new 3rd generation Haakaa is even more flexible
For even more flexibility, Haakaa has now come out with their 3rd generation silicone pump. Unlike the earlier models, you can unscrew the bottle part of the Haakaa and convert it right away into a baby feeding bottle, sippy cup or milk storage container.
I love how it combines the ease of the original Haakaa with the convenience of a classic breast-to-baby pumping system. It is a little more expensive and also heavier, though, and of course you’ll have more bits to wash up, but it’s definitely worth considering.
Who is the Haakaa pump really for?
I think it’s important to ask this question here because, honestly, the Haakaa won’t be for everyone. I LOVE using mine to double up with my single pumps and make pumping more efficient. And I love the convenience of saving some milk during a breastfeed.
For a mom who is supplementing her nursing with pumping, Haakaa is an awesome tool – and I think you’ll love it.
But if you want to pump exclusively, it might not be right for you. Moms who are pumping to replace nursing generally want the most milk possible as quickly as possible. You’re already pumping then bottle feeding daily so time is precious.
If that’s you – if you want that speed and efficiency, you need one of these.
How does a Haakaa feel compared to a manual or electric breast pump?
A milk collector pump feels different to a traditional electric breast pump or manual pump because of how it sucks. You’ll feel constant suction instead of the pulsing and releasing you’d expect from a regular breast pump. That’s because most breast pumps try to mimic the action of your baby‘s mouth on your breast mechanically.
They do this by creating pulses of suction – like your baby rolling their tongue against your breast and sucking and releasing. A Haakaa pump doesn’t do that – instead, it sucks constantly from the moment you attach it until you remove it.
This is important to know because when you first start using a Haakaa it feels a bit strange if you’ve been used to a traditional pump. It’s kind of like you’re vacuuming your boobs.
The pressure can also be very strong so be careful – especially if your nipples or breasts are sore. If you find that the pressure is too much, you just need to release and we reattach your silicon pump. When you reattach it squeeze more gently and you will get gentler suction. In general, the tighter you squeeze the pump when you attach it, the stronger the suction will be.
If you attach your silicon breast pump and immediately feel like you’ve attached an industrial vacuum to your chest then you have squeezed the bulb too hard and you need to stop and readjust. Squeeze again to release and take it off. Try again, squeezing more gently this time.
What if my Haakaa pump hurts?
Make sure that your nipple is not touching the silicone at all because if it does, it may hurt. This is especially true if you are pumping to rest nipples that are sore from nursing. Try not to put them under any unnecessary pressure.
If you are having problems, click here for ten easy ways to ease sore nipples from breastfeeding.
The Haaka’s way of pumping milk is different from regular manual and electric pumps which press and release repeatedly. With the Haaka, the suction is continuous so you need to check it is attached comfortably and adjust it if not.
It also helps to switch sides regularly so both breasts receive the same stimulation.
What if it doesn’t work well right away?
If using your Haakaa isn’t easy to begin with, don’t give up right away. Adjust your nursing position if you need to and keep trying over a few days. Setting up a convenient nursing station might help.
It may take a little practice but it’s well worth it because once you get it right, using a milk collector while breastfeeding is almost effortless. Think how useful the extra milk you store will be.
Once I got it all figured out, my Haaka was a game changer.
What to do next – breastfeeding resources
2. And remember to check out Milkology’s Ultimate Breastfeeding Class – she’ll have you confident and excited to start nursing in no time.