Does the Haakaa breast pump live up to the hype?

Ask Anne

Question: I’ve heard all these wonderful things about the Haakaa pump that almost sound too good to be true. So does it really work?

Answer: I like to keep current with what’s going in the breastfeeding and attachment parenting world, so I follow a lot of mommy groups on Facebook. Over the past few months, I kept seeing posts about a new pump called the Haakaa (yes, that’s how it’s spelled). I was curious about what the name meant, so I Googled it. According to their web site, “HaaKaa is a mom-and-baby brand from New Zealand. It’s name comes from the word “Haka”, which is a traditional war dance by the country’s Maori people, which is a way for them to affirm their strength as a tribe.” I’m now more confused than ever about why they called it that.

I don’t usually recommend specific products. There are so many pumps currently on the market that I encourage moms to do their own research to find out which one would work best for them in their unique situation. Each one has pros and cons, and no one pump is right for everyone.

But I decided to check out the Haakaa because I saw comments like this over and over: “I love love love my Haakaa! While nursing, you put it on the other breast you’re not nursing from and it catches your let down. I generally get between 2-4 ounces in my Haakaa that would have otherwise been wasted by soaking my nursing pad.”

“My Haakaa worked better than an electric pump. I used it mostly when I was feeding bubba on the other breast because who wants to spend the spare time pumping? By the time you finish feeding bubba you have enough for a whole feed.”

“I don’t use an actual pump. My son is 6 months old and I’ve donated over 300 ounces and still have a stash. I love my Haakaa so much and it’s so easy to carry around and I can use it anywhere.”

“I LOVE my Haakaa. I’m struggling with supply and it always adds another 1-4 ounces to my pumping sessions. I use it in addition to pumping. It literally attaches to your breast using suction and collects milk.”

“It’s amazing!! So little hassle and so much output – I’m a convert! One side, one nursing session, 3 ounces!”

“This is seriously the best investment in my breastfeeding journey!”

“I’ve built a stash of over 500 ounces and I never pump!”

I heard more than one mother describe it as a “life saver”.

The rave reviews made me super curious, so I had to do some research and check it out. Here’s what I found:

The Haakka is a one piece ‘pump’ made out of flexible food grade silicone. Here’s the thing: it’s not exactly a pump – it’s more of a ‘milk collection’ device. You attach it to one breast while you’re feeding on the other side. When your milk lets down, the suction gently pulls the milk out, catching the extra milk that drips out, without draining the breast completely.

When the letdown (MER milk ejection reflex) occurs, milk will leak from both sides at the same time. Your body doesn’t know you’re not nursing twins, so just to be on the safe side, mother nature made women’s breasts so that the milk comes out of both breasts every time the letdown occurs. You can tell if your milk has let down if milk leaks from the other breast while the baby is nursing, or when you feel a tingling sensation. Even moms who don’t leak a lot collect some milk with the Haakaa, but not usually as much as heavy leakers.

Advantages (Pros)

  • Cost ($10-$30)
  • Portable: One piece, no equipment to carry around, can be used anywhere you nurse your baby, including in the car.
  • Convenient:  No set up or assembly required, easy cleaning, quiet operation, no electricity or batteries required
  • Easy! You use it when you’re already nursing, so there is no extra investment of time. Milk that would otherwise be wasted is saved. Depending on your supply, the Haakaa can collect several ounces at each nursing session, so you can build up a stash without actually taking extra time to pump.
  • It can be helpful in cases of oversupply or engorgement (it reduces the fullness without emptying the breast completely and stimulating production).
  • The Haakaa can also help clear a plugged milk duct. Just fill it up with a mixture of warm water and Epsom salt (a handful of Epsom salts per 2 quarts (2 liters) of water) and attach it to the affected breast. Epsom salt is a chemical compound containing magnesium sulfate, used for hundreds of years as a home remedy to reduce to reduce inflammation and infection. Within 20 seconds or so, when the milk starts coming out, dump the water and reattach. Repeat until the plug is loosened. You’ll be much more comfortable afterwards, and you can collect the extra milk to use later. Rinse your nipple with water before nursing, because your baby may object to the bitter/salty taste.

Disadvantages (Cons)

  • Measurements for ounces is inaccurate. It measures a little less than the markings indicate, so you need to pour the milk into a bottle with ounce markings to be sure exactly how much you pumped.
  • It can lose suction if baby bumps against it (or kicks it)
  • It doesn’t empty the breasts completely, so it won’t provide maximum stimulation for moms who are providing feedings when separated from their baby on a regular basis. Double pumping is recommended for working moms or moms who rely on bottles a lot.

Tips for use

  • Place the Haakaa over the nipple and in position BEFORE compressing it. This provides a better and more accurate seal around the areola and stronger hold/suction.
  • Fold back the flange part, put your nipple in the middle, gently squeeze the air out of the you put it on your breast and flip the flange back up. When you’re ready to remove it, stick a finger under the flange to break the suction. If it’s uncomfortable, remove it, adjust the suction, and reattach. The suction should be gentle and it shouldn’t hurt if you use it correctly. Once it’s securely attached, it will do the pumping for you.
  • You’ll collect more milk when your breasts are full. Using it in the morning or anytime your baby hasn’t nursed in awhile will give the best results. Even if you only get an ounce or less, it can easily add up to a bottle after you pool the milk collected during several feedings.
  • While it’s attached, check to make sure it doesn’t get knocked loose. If the suctions breaks, the milk will spill out. Holding it on with your hand or hooking your nursing bra around it can help keep it attached.
  • Massaging the breast it’s attached to will help the milk let down even more.

Naturebond and BumbleBee are off brands that also collect “let-down”/ breast milk leaks and relieve engorgement using pure natural suction pressure. They may cost less than the Haakaa and seem to work just as well.

One mother said this about the Haakaa:  “I tell every pregnant woman I know to use it from the very beginning. I didn’t and I wish I had. I regret not getting a head start on my freezer stash. It was a game changer for me. ”

Overall, I have to agree with her. I was so impressed with what I learned that I wish I’d had a Haakaa when I was nursing my six babies – and when my next grand baby is born, I’ll make sure that their mama has a Haakaa from day one.

Anne Smith, IBCLC
Breastfeeding Basics





About Anne Smith, IBCLC

Anne Smith, IBCLC
As the mother of six wonderful breastfed children, three perfect breastfed grand babies, and an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) with over twenty-five years experience in lactation counseling, I can offer you professional support, as well as information and advice based on my personal experiences over the years.

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One comment

  1. Avatar
    Lia Segall Pasternak

    You can use it as a pump, just hand express a little bit and once you got a flow put on the haakaa, no need a baby suckling in the other side.
    Also you cna use it while in the shower when. You’re engorged, that was my game changer! Helped me avoid mastitis with my second baby.

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