How to Use a Haakaa Breast Pump

The Haakaa manual breast pump could be the milk-collecting hack you’ve been looking for. Learn more about how to use it here.

image of a haakaa breast pump against a blue, green, and purple background

Courtesy of Haakaa

When I was setting up my first baby registry in late 2020, one item was deemed an absolute essential by friends, online guides, and Instagram followers alike. “You have to get the Haakaa!” they said. “It’s amazing.” I added it to my list and started using it regularly once my son was born, and now it’s one of the items I, too, recommend to new parents. 

While this little manual silicone pump looks strange at first, it’s become a must-have for many new parents looking to collect milk, relieve engorgement, and build up a milk stash, whether they’re nursing, nursing and pumping, exclusively pumping, combo feeding, or something in between.

What is the Haakaa Breast Pump?

The Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump, commonly referred to as the “Haakaa,” is a manual breast pump made of flexible, lightweight silicone to collect excess milk. “The Haakaa is a great tool for people with a strong supply who tend to leak a lot while nursing,” says Rebecca Agi, M.S., I.B.C.L.C., a Los Angeles-based lactation consultant. If you find you’re soaking through nursing pads while feeding your baby, the Haakaa may be the secret hack you’ve been looking for.

How Does the Haakaa Work?

The Haakaa pump may look confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy—and pretty genius. If you're nursing simultaneously, the Haakaa is used on the non-feeding breast to take advantage of letdown, but you can use it how it works best for you.

Suction is key to its success, though you may need to experiment with technique and placement at first. “The Haakaa uses suction to draw out milk from the breast,” explains Agi. “In order to get the best suction, roll the flange down, center the nipple in the middle, squeeze the bottom of the bulb and flip up the flange.” This method gives the most suction to the breast, and thus, more milk is drawn out. All you have to do is sit there and let it get to work! Haakaa advises placing a warm cloth atop the breast and massaging gently to encourage letdown. 

If you’re dealing with leakage, you can also gently apply the Haakaa to the breast to collect milk without as much stimulation. The Haakaa can be used to help soothe painful nipples or clogged ducts. “There are times during the breastfeeding journey when a saline soak to the nipples can be helpful,” says Agi, adding that the Haakaa can be a great vehicle for this process by filling the product with the necessary solution and attaching it to your breast. The Haakaa can also be great to use when dealing with mastitis, as it can be sued to help soak the breast in epson salt.

It’s also easy to clean, which is a major plus if you get stressed dealing with electric pump parts. Haakaa recommends cleaning the pump with steam or boiling water after each use.

Pros and Cons of the Haakaa

For many, the biggest perk of the Haakaa pump is that it’s an easy way to collect excess milk. It’s quiet (unlike most electric pumps, which make a low, repetitive humming noise) and comes in just one piece, so you don’t have to hook up any parts before use—or clean all those parts when you’re done. Additionally, it's easy to take on the go, since it does not require electricity.

Depending on the model you choose, the Haakaa pump retails for about $15-20 and is relatively small in size, so it’s affordable and easy to toss in a baby bag for use away from home. (I have absolutely used mine in the car.)

One major complaint about the Haakaa is that it can be unsteady once it’s removed from the breast, leading to spilled milk. Some parents I spoke to said they kept a coffee mug or empty bottle nearby to pour milk into right away. Haakaa itself took this feedback and updated the pump with a suction base so it sticks to flat surfaces, and you can also buy a version with a cute flower-shaped stopper to reduce spills. You may also want to keep an eye on your baby’s feet when nursing, because one well-timed kick can send the Haakaa flying.

Another concern is that the Haakaa pump can contribute to oversupply if you’re using it too often. “Like any breast pump, the Haakaa can trigger an oversupply if used multiple times per day,” shares Agi. “The more frequently and thoroughly the breasts are emptied, the faster they refill.”

What Do Real Parents Think About the Haakaa?

I was a big fan of the Haakaa pump during my own breastfeeding journey; once I figured out how to best apply it, I used it while nursing and also while doing chores around the house when I felt a little full. (I also used a conventional electric pump.) Because my output wasn’t consistent, I mainly used it to supplement what I was pumping while my son was at daycare, though I was honestly amazed at how much milk it could collect in just a few minutes.

“I absolutely LOVED the Haakaa,” says Lizann V. of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who was equally impressed by the handy gadget. “I was a little wary about it at first because my thought was, ‘This couldn't possibly work to gather anywhere near enough milk like the electric pump does.’ I'm happy to share that I was absolutely wrong.”

Lizann actually went out and bought two of the larger size Haakaas after her first use and says she stored so much milk that she had to purchase a small freezer. “I exclusively breastfed until I went back to work and still preferred to pump with my Haakaa pumps.” She also purchased the Haakaa Ladybug Silicone Milk Collectors, and wore them in public and at home to collect leaked milk.

Mom of four Amber B. of St. Louis, Missouri, calls the Haakaa a “lifesaver.” Her now-6-year-old son was born with a tongue and lip tie, and by 12 days old, he had lost almost a pound and was dealing with severe dairy and soy intolerances. “To get him back to birth weight, I had to supplement after every nursing session. I never responded well to regular pumps, but with the Haakaa, I would get an ounce or two with every letdown and was able to feed him that in a bottle instead of using expensive hypoallergenic formulas,” she shares.

Amber also chose the Haaka for her youngest child. “We started using it from day one, and when he was only six weeks old we actually donated 500 oz. of milk to another baby!” She continued to use the Haakaa until her son was 1 year old and donated 10 gallons of breastmilk in that time. “I never had to use a regular pump at all, which was a huge deal for my mental health as well. I freaking love those things!”

While the Haakaa has become a must-have for many new parents, that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect fit for everyone. “Like many other breastfeeding and pumping products, it's not designed for all breast sizes and shapes, which is frustrating for those of us on the smaller side,” says Bethany S. of Chicago, Illinois. “Even with attachments for smaller breast/nipple sizes, and even with coaching from my doula, I couldn't get it to work for hand-pumping. In the haze of new motherhood and learning to breastfeed for the first time, it was just another thing that felt really defeating to not be able to figure out.”

As with anything pregnancy and baby-related, if you find yourself with lingering questions or concerns regarding breastfeeding and pumping, be sure to reach out to a lactation consultant or health care provider.

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