Haakaa Hacks – Tips and Tricks for Using the Silicone Breast Pump

Haakaa Hacks – Tips and Tricks for Using the Silicone Breast Pump

The Best Ways to Use a Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump

The Haakaa manual breast pump is, in my opinion, one of the best tools for breastfeeding moms. It’s easy to use a haakaa to collect milk for your freezer stash, help you relieve engorgement, help you increase your milk supply, and more. At a such an inexpensive price, the Haakaa is a must have for any breastfeeding mom.

What is a Haakaa and How is it Different than a Regular Pump?

The haakaa is a silicone breast pump designed to catch the letdown from your other breast while you nurse your baby.  All you have to do is attach it to your breast and it will collect milk without any additional effort on your end.  Unlike a regular electric pump, the haakaa is made of pliable silicone, hands free, and electricity free.  This makes it extremely easy to use and a major hit with breastfeeding moms.

Can a Haakaa Replace an Electric Pump?

Depending on what your needs are, a haakaa may or may not be able to replace an electric pump.  I’d say for most mothers, the haakaa alone won’t be able to serve your pumping needs.  If you plan on pumping at work, or plan on being away from your baby at any time, you’ll likely want to have an electric pump in addition to the haakaa.  The haakaa is great for collecting milk during a letdown, but it’s not exactly capable of “emptying” a breast.  The good news is, an electric breast pump won’t break the bank.  You can get a free pump through insurance.  Simply fill out this easy form to get started.

How Does the Haakaa Work?

The haakaa works by using the power of suction.  Because it’s made of silicone, it’s easy to suction to your breast to collect milk during letdowns.  It pulls milk from your breast rather than pumping it.

Haakaa Tips and Tricks | Coffee and Coos

Related: The Ultimate Online Breastfeeding Class

Benefits of a Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump

The Haakaa Doesn’t Require Electricity

One of the biggest benefits of the haakaa is that it doesn’t require electricity, which means it can easily be used anywhere. 

The Haakaa Doesn’t Come with Tons of Parts and Pieces

Any breastfeeding mom will tell you that one of the worst parts about pumping is putting all the pieces together.  The haakaa doesn’t require any cords, tubing, or extra pieces that need to be put together, making it quick and easy to use.

The Haakaa is Lightweight and Portable

The haakaa is about the size of your hand, which means it’s easy to stash in your diaper bag or purse.  It’s not bulky like an electric pump and can easily be taken on the go.

The Haakaa is Silent

Unlike a traditional electric pump, the haakaa collects milk silently and discreetly.  There are no loud pumping sounds as the haakaa works through suction rather than a pumping motion.

The Haakaa is Easy to Clean

The haakaa is extremely easy to clean.  I would clean my haakaa with dish soap and water after every use, and sterilize it once a week.  To sterilize it, simply put it in boiling water for about three minutes. 

What Kind of Haakaa should you get

Originally, there was only one type of haakaa.  Over the years, the creators of the haakaa listened to recommendations from users and now offer three different types.

Gen 1 Haakaa

The Haakaa Gen 1 was the first haakaa on the market.  It’s the original silicone pump and holds 100ml.

haakaa gen 1

Gen 2 Haakaa

The Haakaa Gen 2 is still the same great pump with a few upgrades.  It offers a suction base (since the pump is so top heavy) and comes with either a flower stopper or lid to prevent spills.  It also comes in two sizes, holding either 100ml or 150ml.

Gen 3 Haakaa

The 3rd generation of the haakaa is similar to both the original pumps, but offers a removable flange so that you can easily switch between pumping, feeding, and storing.

haakaa gen 3

I actually purchased the Gen 1 Haakaa and wish I would have known about the gen 2 with the suction base.  There were many times that it tipped over and all of my hard earned milk was wasted.  However, if you end up purchasing the gen 1 Haakaa, you can use the coffee mug hack to help prevent spillage.  A few months after I started using the Haakaa, I saw an Instagram post from @az.breastfedbabies.  She used a coffee cup to set the Haakaa in to make it more stable.  From then on, I kept a coffee mug permanently sitting on the window sill next to where I nursed.  No more crying over spilled milk.

haakaa coffee cup hack

How to Use your Haakaa

How to Attach your Haakaa

There are actually two ways you can attach your haakaa. I typically just position it on my breast, squeeze out the excess air, and let it do its thing.  However, I have talked to several women who have a hard time getting it attached or getting it to stay put.  If you ever struggle with getting the Haakaa to suction, here’s an alternative way to attach it to your breast. The picture is courtesy of my friend Amy Fields, RN, IBCLC. (Make sure you follow her on Instagram for great breastfeeding tips and support!)

  1. Invert the flange
  2. Place Haakaa on your breast
  3. Squeeze and burp out the air
  4. Gently evert the flange and let go!
How to attach a haakaa

How to Use the Haakaa While Nursing

If you’re using the haakaa while nursing, simply attach it to the opposite breast you’re nursing from.  I always liked to attach mine prior to getting the baby to latch.  That way, when the baby encouraged a letdown, the haakaa was already attached and ready for action. 

When using the haakaa while nursing, you may need to try some different nursing positions to make sure that your wiggly baby doesn’t kick the pump off your breast.  The football hold is a great position to use while your baby is smaller.  As your baby grows and becomes more acrobatic, you can use a hair tie to attach the haakaa to the clasp of your nursing bra to help it stay in place.

how to use a haakaa while nursing

How to Use the Haakaa While Pumping

You can also use the haakaa while pumping.  Some moms use it in conjunction with an electric pump, but I never really understood the logic behind that, being that I’ve always had a double electric pump.  However, I did find it very helpful to use the haakaa in addition to a traditional manual pump.  It makes it so that I can pump from both sides at the same time, without any electricity.  I use this pumping method at work, on road trips, at weddings, at football games, and more.  Not only does it help me stay on schedule, I can relax knowing I don’t have to spend the day with engorged and uncomfortable breasts.

how to use a haakaa while pumping

RELATED: How to Pump More Milk

How to Store Milk Collected with the Haakaa

Once you’ve collected milk in your haakaa, simply pour it into a bottle or a breast milk storage bag and put it in the fridge or the freezer (depending on how soon you plan to use it).  You can check out this post for more information on breast milk storage.

Additional Uses for the Haakaa

Clear a Clogged Milk Duct with a Haakaa and Epsom Salt

This is one of my favorite Haakaa hacks! Did you know you can also use the Haakaa to clear a clogged milk duct?  Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill the Haakaa with about three tablespoons of very warm water (as warm as you can handle). You want to make sure that there’s enough water that your nipple is submerged, but not so much that the haakaa will overflow when your trying to attach it.
  2. Add one tablespoon of Epsom salt.
  3. Attach the haakaa to the affected breast and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The combination of heat and salt should pull out the plug.
  4. If it doesn’t clear the plugged duct on the first try, take a break and repeat up to four times a day. Massage the clogged duct in between tries.

I can tell you, from experience, that using a haakaa was always the best method for clearing a clogged milk duct. This trick would unblock even the most stubborn and painful plugged ducts, and it’s very easy to do.

Relieve Sore Nipples with a Haakaa

The Haakaa can also be used to relieve sore or cracked nipples.  Those early days of breastfeeding can be rough on your nipples.  In addition to nipple cream, you can fill a Haakaa with warm saline water and attach so that your nipple sits in the water.  This will help heal the nipple and make breastfeeding your little one less painful.  (Remember, breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.  If you’re experiencing pain, make sure to check your latch and/or meet with a lactation consultant in your area).

Common Questions

When Should you Start Using the Haakaa?

Most lactation consultants recommend that you refrain from pumping until your milk supply has regulated (around 6 – 8 weeks). However, if you’re suffering from engorgement, need to build a freezer stash before returning to work, or find that you’re soaking nursing pads, I would recommend using the Haakaa as soon as you’re ready! I used it within days after giving birth.

How Much Milk can you Expect to Collect with a Haakaa?

The amount of milk you collect with a haakaa varies from mom to mom.  A lot of it depends on your milk supply, the last time you nursed or pumped, and how your breasts respond to the pump.  I would, on average, collect about two ounces per feeding.  When I was really struggling with an oversupply, I could get up to eight ounces per feeding, and after my baby started solids, I would sometimes collect less than an ounce.  It all depends!

Update: I actually did a little survey on Instagram and the overwhelming majority of moms said they got 2-3 ounces of milk from the haakaa.

Does the Haakaa Increase your Milk Supply?

Anything that removes milk from your breasts can increase your milk supply. Breast milk works on a supply and demand system. The more milk you demand, the more milk your body will make. If you want to see an increase in milk supply, use the Haakaa as much as possible (removing milk on a frequent basis). 

Note: I used the Haakaa to relieve engorgement because I knew I needed to remove some milk for comfort. I didn’t want to pump for fear of removing too much milk. Leaving the Haakaa on just through the initial letdown was the perfect solution for me.

Related: Four Ingredient Lactation Smoothie for Weight Loss and Milk Supply

Can the Haakaa be Used for Exclusive Pumping?

If you’re an exclusive pumper, I think having a haakaa would still be beneficial, but it can’t take the place of an electric pump.  I think having something small that you can take with you on short trips that doesn’t require electricity would absolutely benefit an exclusive pumping mom.

What if the Haakaa Won’t Stay On?

Depending on your breast shape, size, and fullness, you may have trouble keeping the haakaa attached.  If your haakaa won’t stay on, here are some things you can try:

  • Make sure your haakaa flange is dry
  • Reposition the haakaa and reattach
  • Try squeezing the haakaa on the front and back rather than on the sides
  • Try attaching it using both attachment methods

What if the Haakaa Hurts?

If that haakaa hurts while it’s attached to your breast, make sure your nipple isn’t touching the silicone.  Just remove the pump and reattach, making sure your nipple is fully centered in the middle of the flange.

Does the Haakaa Take Milk Away from the Baby?

This is a common question from breastfeeding moms who are concerned about their milk supply.  Simply put, the haakaa is typically catching the letdown from the breast you’re not nursing from, which would otherwise be wasted in a nursing pad.  Both breasts have a letdown at the same time, regardless whether you’re using a milk collector or not.  Another thing to remember is that your breast is never truly “empty”.  Breastmilk works on a supply and demand system, so the more milk you remove from your body, the more you will produce. If you’re concerned with whether or not your baby is getting enough breastmilk, check out this post.

Does the Haakaa Only Collect Foremilk?

The haakaa collects whatever milk is ready to leave the breast.  If you’re using the haakaa on a full breast, it will typically collect foremilk first, just as a regular pump would.  If you’ve recently nursed from that breast, you may collect hindmilk.  It all just depends on where you’re at in the milk removal process.

Can you use the Haakaa when you’re not Nursing?

You can use the Haakaa without nursing. You can use it while pumping, or if you’re feeling extremely full, you can use it by itself. I have personally had success using the haakaa on it’s own.  I have suffered from an oversupply, and just the thought of my baby can give me a letdown.   In fact, the haakaa was vital in helping me manage my oversupply and regulate my milk supply.  Don’t be discouraged if using a Haakaa without nursing doesn’t work for you, as our breasts and milk supplies are all different.

What if the Haakaa’s not Working?

If you can’t seem to get the haakaa to work, don’t give up.  Sometimes it takes a little practice before you can learn what works best for your breasts and baby.  My best advice is to play with the way you attach the haakaa, how you squeeze the haakaa, and what nursing position you use.  You can also try apply heat to the top of the breast using a heat pack or massaging the breast to encourage a steady milk flow. 

If you’re a breastfeeding mom, I highly recommend the Haakaa.  It has made my life so much easier in so many ways.  On top of just using it as a milk collector, the Haakaa can help you clear up some of the most common breastfeeding issues.  If you use a Haakaa and love it, I hope you learned a few new tricks! Follow me on Instagram for more baby and breastfeeding hacks!

The Breastfeeding Mom’s Guide to Using the Haakaa

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