Cautions of the Haakaa and other similar silicone breast “pumps”

The Haakaa and similar manual pumps are extremely popular. I used one for the first few months after Peach was born. They typically suction on the opposite breast while feeding to collect “leaking” milk. It’s not an actual pump, but it does create a vacuum that removes milk from the breast. Like any product, it can be a wonderful tool or inadvertently cause problems.

⭐️Caution: milk collected in a tool like this tends to be “drip milk”, meaning high water content and low fat. It can be good to relieve engorgment or pull off milk if baby is sleeping longer, but you’ll want to mix it with other pumped milk to ensure a good fat content.
🌀Use hand compression while it collects or hand express after to help pull fat into that milk.

⭐️Caution: more so than breast shells or milk collectors that passively sit in the bra, the suction adds extra stimulation and can increase milk supply, to the point of an oversupply. The extra milk pulled off during feeding tells the body that baby is REALLY hungry and eating all the milk that is actually feeding the freezer. The body makes more and more milk. This can result in an overactive let down which causes baby to cough, choke, and pull off the breast while you spray milk in their face.

⭐️For some the focus shifts from what the baby is doing to what the other breast is/isn’t doing. Instead of enjoying baby, you’re obsessed with the silicone bobble dangling from your boob. And an active baby may kick it off and make a mess.

⭐️Those who don’t drip a lot it may wrongly believe there is something wrong with milk supply and have unnecessary concern. This is especially true if you were used to high yield in the first weeks after birth and once your supply regulates you only see drops collected. Many panic at this drop when that’s actually normal.
🌀Accounting for every drop may make you feel like you’re failing at feeding. Even if baby is getting plenty of milk and feeding fine.

⭐️For those with a true low supply, the Haakaa may be taking milk from the other breast that baby actually needs to grow. Sometimes baby needs that milk and not the freezer.

On the flip side, the Haakaa and other silicone pumps can be a wonderful tool. They can be a huge relief to reduce engorgment. Did you know you can suction two of them on while you’re in the shower to reduce engorgment and help keep milk moving? Or collect last minute milk before you leave for work? I’ve found they help pull out colostrum while baby is feeding better than an electric pump. they’re super handy for getting rid of a plugged duct or nipple blebs. For someone with a low milk supply, this tool could be the difference between supplementing your own milk vs formula. It can mean freedom from an electric pump while creating a stash for going back to work. Some see this as their way of giving back through milk donation. It is a fabulous tool to use for hand expression. It’s just the right shape and size for hand expressing milk when you don’t have an electric pump or don’t want to drag a pump with you. It’s easy for traveling, with no extra parts to lose or clean.

Understanding the tool is the most important thing. If you have an overactive let down and choking baby, consider reducing your Haakaa use. If you’re struggling with an oversupply, know that the Haakaa may be your problem. If you’re 4-6 months into your journey you may not collect as much as you used to when baby was 2 or 3 months old.