What do you do when you have a three-month-old baby and Wellington on a Plate rolls around, bringing with it abundant opportunities to attend adult-only events? If you’re a breastfeeding mum (which helps a lot with balancing out the calories you might — hypothetically — consume at a chocoholic high tea) you break out the breast pump. I mean, I guess you could miss everything, but that’s lame.
When the Little Monkey was a baby I forked out for an electric Avent breast pump. It did the job, but it was a nuisance to assemble, dissemble and clean between each use.
Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump
Value for money
Usability / Readability
This breast pump is not a full replacement for an electric pump if you're doing a lot of expressing, but for occasional bottle-filling, travel or just building up a freezer stash it's awesome. It's also great value for money --- a fraction of the price of an electric pump. I recommend buying the optional lid!
The Haakaa breast pump launched sometime last year, and I looked at it with skepticism. Though I’m lucky to have an abundant milk supply, babies are better at extracting it than a pump is. I didn’t expect an unpowered silicon tube to have any effect. So I ignored it until I was chatting to some other mums recently and they raved about it. I went straight home and ordered one, and I’m glad I did.
First up, I need to say that if you’re expressing for a baby who’s having bottles every day the Haakaa probably won’t fill the gap. It’s not as effective as an electric pump. But it is awesome for occasional use, catching surplus milk and travel.
It works by suctioning onto your breast, and just by virtue of keeping a vacuum it extracts some milk. There are some tricks to it, but they’re mostly the same for any pump (massage to stimulate supply, relax, look at pictures of your baby if they’re not with you, don’t move the pump once it’s properly positioned).
My initial justification for buying it was that I was soaking through breast pads during feedings. Rather than change my clothes multiple times a day, I figured I’d catch the milk for later use (I knew Wellington on a Plate was coming — I’m only slightly joking). It works really well for this — with the baby on one side and the Haakaa pump on the other I can usually get 30-50ml. Not a huge amount, but I’d rather catch it than leak it into my clothing and then send the milk through the washing machine.
I have also used it on its own, and found I can get 20-30ml in 5-10 minutes. I haven’t established any consistency with expressing, which last time around helped increase output, so regularity would probably improve my results here. I’ve seen others claim much higher yields so I wouldn’t put too much stock in my numbers.
It’s super easy to clean — it is just one piece of silicon, after all. It can be boiled to sterilise, though we didn’t offer a bottle until our Night Owl was three months old (a mistake, as it transpires… But that’s another story), so we’ve just been washing it thoroughly.
It’s about the same size as a large baby bottle, so easy to transport if you’re travelling, and because it doesn’t need power or make noise it can really be used anywhere. Travelling with my old pump was a huge pain so this will definitely be a win for me too, whenever we next work up the courage to go anywhere.
The only downside I can see is that because it’s quite light and kind of top heavy it’s very easy to knock over. But I am pretty clumsy; you might not have that problem. And you can get it with a lid, which in hindsight I wish I had got. Lids are useful. Especially for clumsy people. [update: I’ve been tipped off to the fact that a coffee mug is perfectly suited to minimising the tipping risk. The pump easily sits inside most mugs and the weight of the mug makes accidents less likely]
And it’s not exactly a recreational activity – but pumping never is. I find it nicer to use than an electric pump, and as an extra bonus there’s no annoying whir as it operates. Totally worthy of the hype.
Awesome or Average: Awesome
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