Are you wondering how to use a Haakaa? It seems like every new mom is talking about the Haakaa right?
That’s because this little gadget is a game-changer for breastfeeding moms to collect all of that precious milk.
Whether this is your first baby, second baby, or many-th baby, if you are a nursing mom and haven’t invested–by the way it costs less than lunch at your favorite salad place–in one yet, now is the time to do it!
You might have come across the Haakaa breast pump while researching the best baby essentials for your baby registry, or maybe a friend told you about how she used one to build up her freezer stash of milk.
Whatever brought you here, you have questions about the silicone pump and this article will tell you everything you need to know about how to use a Haakaa breast pump.
Rest assured that I know everything there is to know about how to use a Haakaa breast pump because I researched and used it from day one on my 20-month breastfeeding journey.
Jump Ahead To:
What Is A Haakaa Breast Pump?
A Haakaa pump is a simple pump that has a ton of uses.
The Haakaa is made of a single piece of silicone. This is food-grade silicone that is safe for you and your baby.
It looks like a bottle with a flange on top.
It is only one part (great for cleaning and sterilizing!) and doesn’t require electricity or manual pumping.
The Haakaa is a hands-free manual breast pump.
You can easily toss your Haaakaa in your purse–oh wait–your diaper bag 😋.
The Haakaa was originally designed to catch milk from the opposite breast during the letdown when breastfeeding to avoid losing precious breastmilk to bras, t-shirts, or nursing pads.
What Is A Breast Milk Letdown?
If this is your first baby, or you are new to breastfeeding, the term letdown might be new to you.
You might be surprised to find out that when your baby first latches on to your breast during breastfeeding and starts sucking, no milk comes out!
Your baby actually needs to stimulate your breast for 15-90 seconds before the milk starts to flow.
This is so that milk doesn’t continually flow from your breasts and leak everywhere!
So while your baby starts to suck, this triggers the letdown response to your body. This lets your body know to allow the milk to start flowing.
The milk starts flowing from both breasts at the same time. This is why you might notice your bra or shirt get wet on the other side when you are breastfeeding. Sometimes–especially early on in breastfeeding–you will experience a spontaneous letdown which leads to leaking.
I would suggest using a nursing pad in your bra for the first few months of breastfeeding to avoid any leaking in public. There are also 6 other breastfeeding must-haves that you should have to make your breastfeeding journey easier.
Mom Tip: Did you know you can get many breastfeeding products for free from major brands?! Here’s how!
How Do You Know When You Have Your Letdown?
There are a few different ways to know when you have your letdown:
- Tingling: Many women report they feel a tingling, prickling, or even pinching feeling when they have their letdown.
- Nausea: Some lucky women–like me 😒–feel a sudden wave of nausea when they have their letdown.
- Slower Sucking: To stimulate the letdown, babies will suck quickly and shallowly. Once your letdown has occurred, your baby will usually slow down and take longer, deeper mouthfuls of milk.
- Noises: Your baby will likely make some very adorable noises when the milk starts flowing. You might hear a gulping or slurping sound. You might hear a sigh of relief.
How To Use A Haakaa Breast Pump During Your Letdown?
Remember how I said your letdown is triggered in both breasts at the same time? And how you might get milk on your shirt or bra from this leaking?
The Haakaa was originally designed to catch the letdown from the opposite side that your baby is feeding on. By catching the letdown in the Haakaa you are collecting extra milk that would have otherwise been wasted.
I will go into more detail later and give tips and tricks for attaching your Haakaa, but basically, all you have to do is place the flange around your nipple, squeeze the base, and release.
It’s that simple.
Once you collect the letdown you can choose to keep the Haakaa on the breast to try and collect more milk, or you can take it off until you switch sides.
How Does The Haakaa Breast Pump Work?
You might be wondering how the Haakaa actually works to collect milk without any electricity or pumping motion.
The Haakaa works to collect milk using gravity and gentle suction.
Even without the Haakaa, your breasts will probably leak milk during your letdown–at least until your milk regulates–because of gravity.
The suction comes from squeezing some of the air out of the base of the Haakaa when you are attaching it.
The amount of air that you squeeze out of the base will determine how strong the suction is. The more air your squeeze out, the stronger the suction.
Even though it isn’t a super-powerful suction, the constant suction provides surprising results.
How To Clean The Haakaa
When you first open your Haakaa you need to sterilize it before use.
You also want to sterilize the Haakaa between each session (or every 4 hours: see FAQ below: Can You Keep Adding Milk To The Haakaa From Different Breastfeeding Sessions?)
The easiest way to sterilize is to submerge it in boiling water for 5 minutes.
If you have a counter or microwave sterilizer you can use those as well.
The Haakaa is also dishwasher safe, so you can put it in the dishwasher, but make sure your dishwasher has a ‘sterilize’ setting (mine is brand new and doesn’t!)
Before you sterilize you’ll want to clean your Haakaa. If you have a round bottle brush it will make the job a breeze.
I’d also recommend bottle soap instead of regular dish soap. Regular dish soaps don’t get all of the milk residues off and will build up over time.
How Often Should You Clean Your Haakaa?
You should clean and sterilize your Haakaa before each use.
What If My Haakaa Gets Discolored?
Like all clear silicones, over time your Haakaa will get cloudy. This doesn’t mean it is dirty, it is just a result of the washing.
You can try and soak your Haakaa for a few hours in equal parts water and vinegar to try and get rid of the cloudiness, but if it doesn’t bother you, it’s fine to keep using.
Attaching The Haakaa
The basic technique for attaching your Haakaa is to position the flange over the breast, with the nipple centered in the flange.
Then squeeze the base to release some air using one hand and then let go. Your nipple will be gently pulled into the Haakaa, and you are ready to go!
If you are having trouble getting your Haakaa to stay on–I had trouble with mine early on during engorgement–you can do an extra step to get the Haakaa on more securely.
First, fold the flange back on the Haaka.
Then position your nipple so that it is in the center of the collection cup.
Squeeze the base with one hand to release some air, then let go. Your nipple will be pulled farther down into the Haakaa collection cup.
Then, fold the flange back on your breast.
Using A Pumping Bra
I personally have never tried this, but some moms swear that using a hands-free pumping bra helps to keep the Haakaa in place. My guess is they aren’t getting a lot of expressed milk other than the initial letdown because if you can’t get enough suction on the breast you aren’t going to collect much milk.
If you find yourself in this position, consider buying the Haakaa Lady Bug Milk Collectors (instead of the regular Haakaa).
Things to consider when attaching the Haakaa:
Comfort is the number one priority. If you find that the advanced technique creates too much suction (I did) that is painful, experiment with the basic technique. You should not feel any pain or even pressure when using the Haakaa.
- The baby.
Those squirmy little hands and legs? They are definitely going to knock off your Haakaa a few times before you get a system down. You’ll get milk all down the front of both of you, but don’t worry, practice makes perfect. If you’re really struggling, you can try feeding the baby in a football hold to keep them as far away from the Haakaa as possible.
You might be tempted to let your Haakaa fill all the way to the top. I definitely did as I would collect about 6-8 ounces each session. Be careful though, once your Haakaa fills, it is heavy, and gravity, suction, and the baby are all working against you.
Ultimately the pump is going to fall off and then you will be soaked. Try keeping collection cups at your breastfeeding station so that you can pour the milk from your Haakaa out between breasts. The less full the Haakaa is, the more suction you will get, and the easier it will be to stay attached to the breast.
Unless you go into it with a game plan, you will certainly experience a Haakaa tip-over. The newer Haakaa models have sturdy bases or suction cup bases to prevent tipping (although my suction cup base still tipped a few times). Anticipate needing to remove your Haakaa for one reason or another and have an empty tall glass or coffee cup that you can rest the Haakaa in to provide more stability.
Collecting Foremilk And Hindmilk With The Haakaa
When your breasts let down, the initial milk that comes out is known as the foremilk.
Foremilk is very watery and doesn’t have as much fat or nutrients. Foremilk is meant to quench your baby’s thirst.
Hindmilk comes later in the breastfeeding session. Hindmilk is creamier and thicker. It has a higher fat content and more nutrients. Hindmilk fills your little guy’s tummy.
If you are just collecting your letdown with the Haakaa and then removing the pump, you are probably collecting mostly (if not all) foremilk.
You don’t want to feed your baby just foremilk. It’s not that foremilk is bad for babies (although too much foremilk has been known to cause upset tummies), but you want to make sure your baby is getting a mix of foremilk and hindmilk when they take a bottle.
Not to mention, foremilk might initially fill them up, but is so easily digested (because there aren’t as many nutrients) that your baby will be hungrier faster!
How Do You Know If You Have Collected Foremilk Or Hindmilk?
Once your breastmilk has settled in a collection cup, it will separate into three layers. The top layer will be almost solid. This is the fat. The second layer will be very light in color or look almost watery, this is the foremilk. The third layer will be creamy and thick. This is the hindmilk.
If you’re having trouble seeing the layers, try holding your collection cup up to the light.
There isn’t a specific amount of foremilk, hindmilk, or fat that you are looking for. Your body produces exactly what your baby needs.
How To Collect Hindmilk With The Haakaa?
You can collect hindmilk in a few different ways. Not all of these methods will work for everyone. So just do trial and error!
- Leave your Haakaa on a little longer.
This is what I did and it worked really well for me. I was always a bit of an oversupplier though because I was creating a freezer stash for when I went back to work. I would use the Haakaa on each side and allow 3-4 ounces of milk to collect from each side.
- You might not need to collect that much.
For example, if your letdown is usually 0.5 ounces and you leave it on until you collect 1 ounce, that should be fine!
- Mix Your Milk With Other Pumped Milk.
If you are pumping, you can simply mix in the milk that you collect from the Haakaa pump with the other milk that you pump.
- Mix Your Collected milk with formula.
If you are supplementing with formula, you can definitely top off your formula bottle with some of the foremilk!
Just be sure to mix the formula first and then top off with breastmilk. If you mix breastmilk with powdered formula directly, it can be dangerous for your baby.
Don’t stress too much about your foremilk, hindmilk balance momma.
Even if you have an imbalance with too much foremilk, most of the time your baby will just be hungrier faster or be a little gassy.
If you think you might have an imbalance and it is causing more issues like an extremely fussy baby or a baby that isn’t gaining weight properly, talk with your pediatrician and a lactation consultant.
How To Store The Milk You Collect With Your Haakaa
Make sure never to mix room-temperature breastmilk with refrigerated breastmilk. Always mix breastmilk when it is the same temperature.
As you collect milk throughout the day, add it to a container. This container can sit out for up to 4 hours from whenever you first poured milk into it because breastmilk can be at room temperature for up to 4 hours before needing to be refrigerated.
After 4 hours, or whenever your container is full, put the milk in the fridge to cool.
At the end of the day combine all of the milk from the fridge into a larger container and mix together well before storing it in bottles or breastmilk bags.
The reason you want to combine it all together first is that your breastmilk changes throughout the day. The milk from your morning feeds is different from the evening feeds. The milk from your night feeds can even make your little one sleepy!
Some milk might be fatter than others, some might be more watery.
By mixing it all together you will ensure that the bottle your baby gets is well-rounded no matter what time of day they are getting it.
Using The Haakaa To Build A Freezer Stash
A freezer stash is a collection of expressed milk that is kept frozen in the freezer.
Even if you aren’t returning to work, some moms like to have a small freezer stash as a backup in case they get sick or need to go out of town.
If you are returning to work, I highly recommend at least having a small freezer stash. It really takes the pressure off when you are pumping at work. You don’t have to worry if you only collect 5 ounces at work instead of 6, you know you have enough in the freezer to supplement that.
Most lactation consultants will tell you to avoid a breast pump before 6 weeks because your milk is still regulating. Heavily pumping to create a freezer supply too early on can lead to an oversupply. An oversupply is frustrating for a baby (imagine trying to drink from a firehose) and can be painful for the nursing mom (engorged breasts).
By collecting your letdown you are creating a freezer stash that isn’t going to affect your milk supply.
Tips, Tricks, And Hacks For Getting The Most Out Of Your Haakaa
As a breastfeeding mom who used her Haakaa from day one, I can give you all of the tips, tricks, and hacks that I learned along the way.
I will also answer some frequently asked questions that were also questions of mine back then.
Common Questions For The Haakaa
How Much Milk Is Normal To Collect With The Haakaa?
Milk production is so different from one woman to the next, but from everything that I have read, it is very common to collect at least 1 ounce and up to 8 ounces of breastmilk in your Haakaa from one breastfeeding session (this includes both breasts).
The most common amount of milk is 2-3 ounces from each breastfeeding session.
What If I Am Not Collecting Any Milk With The Haakaa?
If your baby is only a few weeks old and your milk is still regulating, you should collect at least 1 ounce per breastfeeding session. If you are collecting less than 1 ounce try a few of these techniques:
- Reposition the Haakaa.
Try attaching it from a lower or higher angle than you are used to. Try positioning it slightly to the left or right (make sure your nipple isn’t rubbing on the sides). Try twisting the Haakaa slightly when you are putting it on. Instead of positioning the flange straight up and down, tilt it ever so slightly to one side or the other.
- Massage your breast.
Gently massage your breast to encourage milk flow. Use your fingertips to tap lightly in circles around your breast, starting at the top of the breast and working your way toward the nipple.
- Increase or decrease the suction.
First try increasing the suction by using the advanced positioning technique I mentioned above, and by squeezing as much air out of the base as you can.
If that doesn’t work, try decreasing the amount of suction. This might seem counterintuitive (I thought for sure that more suction=more milk) but sometimes a gentler and more soothing suction on the breast is more effective for collecting milk.
Can The Haakaa Help Increase My Milk Supply?
Yes! Milk supply is a simple supply and demand game. Meaning, the more milk you take from your breasts, the more milk your body is going to produce.
If you have a serious milk undersupply, make sure to use the Haakaa every time you breastfeed on the opposite breast. In addition, you’ll probably want to have a pumping session with a manual or electric pump in between feedings.
This will tell your body to really ramp up milk production. As your milk supply increases, you will start to collect more milk each time in your Haakaa and electric or manual pump.
Can The Haakaa Cause Me To Have Oversupply Issues?
No. As long as you are only catching your letdown in the Haakaa you aren’t telling your body to produce more milk. Your letdown would have been collected either way in a shirt, bra, or nursing pad.
On the other hand, if you leave your Haakaa on to collect hindmilk (the milk that comes out after your letdown), you could signal your body to produce more milk and that can lead to an oversupply like with any other traditional pumps.
Can You Keep Adding Milk To The Haakaa From Different Breastfeeding Sessions?
Yes, to a certain extent.
Room temperature breastmilk that has been expressed can stay at room temperature for up to 4 hours. This means you can keep expressing milk into the Haakaa for 4 hours from your first session.
Keep your Haakaa at room temperature the entire time (do not refrigerate).
Once you reach 4 hours, you need to empty your collected milk into a container and store it in the fridge or freezer.
Your Haakaa should be sterilized before you use it again.
You can continue this process throughout the day.
Warning: Make sure not to combine room-temperature milk with refrigerated milk. Each time you empty your Haakaa use a separate container. If you pour freshly expressed room-temperature milk into cold milk, you could be introducing bacteria and ruining all of the milk. Once all of your little containers are at refrigerated temperature, you can combine them together. Similarly, you can have a container that sits out at room temperature that you can add milk to for up to 4 hours before you refrigerate it.
Can You Use The Haakaa Instead Of An Electric or Manual Breast Pump?
Yes, and no. In the early days of breastfeeding your milk will flow more readily with the Haakaa.
As your supply adjusts and evens out, you will probably start seeing a decrease in the amount of milk you are expressing with the Haakaa.
I loved using the Haakaa instead of a traditional breast pump.
I would catch way more than just my letdown (3-4 ounces per side per feeding).
I didn’t touch my electric or manual breast pumps until right before I went back to work at 6 months.
Somewhere around 5 months, I started noticing that I wasn’t collecting as much milk with the Haakaa anymore. At first, it wasn’t very noticeable (maybe half an ounce or an ounce less during each feeding session) but over time I realized that the Haakaa wouldn’t be effective as my only breast pump in the long run.
If you like your Haakaa and you are producing enough milk, there is no reason why you can’t use it as your main breast pump.
Can You Use The Haakaa If Your Baby Isn’t On The Opposite Breast?
Yes! As long as you can stimulate a letdown, you can use your Haakaa without your baby on the other side.
Stimulating letdown is easier for some than others. You can sit in a quiet place and relax, use your fingers to gently massage the breast, look at pictures of your baby, or my personal favorite: listen to videos of your baby crying 🙃.
If you can’t stimulate a letdown on your own, you will need to use a manual or electric breast pump instead.
If I needed to relieve engorgement– or I even remember needing to collect a few extra ounces of milk for a bottle while I was out running errands–I would frequently use my Haakaa without my son.
Does The Haakaa Fit Large Breasts And Small Breasts?
Yes! The Haakaa can fit any size breast, whether you are a AA, or FF the Haakaa’s unique design will fit those and all other breast sizes.
Does The Haakaa Have Different Flange Sizes?
No. The Haakaa is one size fits all. Unlike a traditional electric or manual breast pump that comes with flanges in different sizes, the Haakaa is designed to be a one-size-fits-all solution.
Can I Use The Haakaa If I Have Cracked Or Sore Nipples?
There isn’t any reason why you can’t use the Haakaa, other than your personal comfort.
If you have to pump and have sore or cracked nipples, the Haakaa is definitely going to be more gentle than a manual or electric pump.
What If There Is Blood In My Haakaa And Breast Milk?
As long as this blood is coming from your nipple or the breast itself, it is considered safe to keep breastfeeding or serving the expressed milk.
You just want to make sure the blood isn’t from an open sore on the breast or has come from somewhere else and contaminated the milk.
If you’re feeling weird about giving your baby pink milk, still save it!!!!
Don’t pour it down the drain!!!
Breastmilk is literally liquid gold and can be used for so many purposes.
Freeze the breastmilk in a milk bag and label it as “for topical use.” You can use breastmilk topically on your and the baby’s skin.
Breastmilk can be used to treat chapped nipples, acne, rashes, diaper rashes, cradle cap… Basically, anything going on on your skin or the baby’s skin can be treated with breastmilk.
So save any blood-tinged breastmilk even if you don’t want to feed it to your baby.
Do I Need A Haakaa Even If I’m Not Breastfeeding?
Yes! Engorgement can be really painful when your milk initially comes in. Engorgement can lead to clogged milk ducts and other infections like mastitis.
The Haakaa will allow you to very gently express a minimal amount of milk to stay comfortable and avoid these complications. A Haakaa Gen 1 is so inexpensive compared to other breast pumps and is going to be more efficient and comfortable than trying to hand express engorged breasts.
Tip: Using Your Haakaa To Remove A Clogged Milk Duct
I don’t know which momma ever thought about using her Haakaa to remove clogged milk ducts, but whoever you are: THANK YOU!
The Haakaa makes quick work of even the most stubborn milk duct.
What Is A Clogged Milk Duct?
A clogged duct is just how it sounds, a milk duct that is plugged up for some reason.
Your breasts have tons of ducts where the milk is stored.
A duct can get clogged if it isn’t fully emptied during a feed, if your breasts become engorged (especially in the early weeks of breastfeeding), if you go too long between feedings or just from hormonal or stress imbalances.
Clogged milk ducts are super painful, and if they aren’t cleared can lead to an even more painful infection called mastitis.
So, for your comfort, and to prevent more serious conditions, you want to clear clogged milk ducts right away.
You can try massaging the duct gently, allowing your baby to breastfeed from the breast, or hand express milk in a warm shower…
Or, you can use what I felt was the most effective treatment for clogged milk ducts: the Haakaa.
Haakaa Epsom Salts
It has become really popular to use Epsom salts in the Haakaa to help clear clogged milk ducts.
Epsom salts are an anti-inflammatory agent so they can help bring down the swelling and pressure of the clogged milk duct.
If you want to try Epsom salts in your Haakaa, mix:
- 1 Teaspoon Epsom salts
- 1/2 Haakaa of warm water
- Stir until dissolved
Attach the Haakaa to your breast as you usually would. Adjusting for pressure until it is comfortable. Using more suction will not clear the duct faster.
You want the nipple to be submerged in the water.
Let it sit as long as possible and let the Haakaa work. You can try gentle massage while wearing the Haakaa as well.
You may or may not express milk as a result of using the Haakaa in this way. Don’t worry one way or another. Just because you see milk does not mean the duct has been cleared… As there are dozens of other ducts that could be expelling the milk.
You’ll know it is working when you begin to feel the pressure, swelling, and possible hardness or lump reduction.
Repeat as often as needed.
For me personally, I didn’t need to use Epsom salts (that’s not something I have just laying around my house). I Could just use warm water and that did the trick!
The Different Haakaa Models
Haakaa has made quite the name for themselves in the last few years, so they now have a huge lineup of products.
For this Haakaa review, I will focus on only the milk collectors and breast pumps.
Haakaa Silicone Milk Collector
This is a lady-bug-shaped milk saver that can sit in your bra (with or without suction) to collect excess milk throughout the day as a breast pad would.
You can apply the ladybug just like the original Haalaa to generate suction and collect even more milk on the go.
Haakaa Generation 1 Silicone Breast Pump
This is the original Haakaa silicone breast pump.
No Frills here, but it will do everything that I mention above!
Haakaa Generation 2 Silicone Breast Pump With Suction Base
The bottom part of the pump has a silicone suction cup base.
It is still all one piece, so great for cleaning.
I do think the suction base is worth the extra cost… But that is the only thing that makes this different from Haakaa Gen 1.
Haakaa Lids And Stoppers
You can also buy your Haakaa with a lid or–adorable-flower stopper (that’s the one I have).
I also think these are worth the upgrade, especially if you want to be able to let your milk sit out for up to 4 hours to avoid dirt and contaminants from getting in.
Haakaa Generation 3 Silicone Breast Pump
The flange is silicone and similar to the generation 1 and 2 models (although there is a slight design difference that some moms love and others don’t).
The flange connects directly to bottles, sippy cups, and storage containers.
This is a great idea, but it adds more pieces to clean…
I think I would opt for the first or second generation and store it in my own bottle or milk storage bag.
The Haakaa has become a must-have registry essential for new moms no matter which model you decide to go with.
My only other advice is to break out the Haakaa as soon as you get home from the hospital to catch the opposite letdown to use for bottles, freezer stashes, or topical use.