Haakaa pumps are amazing. But did you know that while they can seem like specialist products, you don't have to get rid of them once you’ve no longer breastfeeding – or even restrict yourself to the obvious uses while you are? And that is true for a whole stack of Haakaa products. Today we’re going to look at some of the other uses you can put your pumps, milk storage bags, and colostrum collectors to, either in conjunction with their usual usage, or after their original job is over!
No matter which generation is your favourite, we can agree that every Haakaa pump does an outstanding job at its primary function of helping you express milk. But even while you’re still using it as a pump, its use is not limited to only that. Blocked milk ducts are a common ailment that many breastfeeding mothers deal with, and they can be incredibly painful. They can occur when milk flow has been obstructed in some way. A range of factors can cause this, including (but not limited to) breasts not emptying fully, poor latching, missed feeds, pressure on the breast (such as tight clothing or underwire bras), or limited time during feeds (especially common with multiples). The blockage causes milk to back up in the breast tissue behind it and can cause pain, a hard lump, redness and warmth in the area over the blockage, or a localised area of engorgement. It’s important to try and clear these blockages, as alongside the pain (usually a good enough incentive by itself!), a blocked duct can lead to mastitis, a much more serious condition.
There are several ways to deal with a blocked duct – rest, keeping up adequate fluids, and a well-balanced diet can help to prevent them, but once you’ve got one, you’ll need to know how to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Your healthcare professional can help you find out the causes, but there are a few tricks that are often employed when trying to clear the blockage. Applying heat before a feed can help more efficiently empty breasts, and massaging the affected area is also helpful. Continuing to feed on that side is important – but your Haakaa pump can also play a role by using it to give yourself an Epsom salt bath! You can do this after a feed once you’ve put your little one down – don’t try while you’re feeding your baby. Here’s how:
- Before you begin, apply heat to your breast, right over the blockage – something nice and warm that won’t burn you. You can use a wheat bag, hot water bottle, or whatever you have to hand. If you don’t have anything you can use, jumping in the shower and letting the warm water run over the area can be just as effective.
- Fill a clean pump with enough warm water that you can attach the pump and have the water be in contact with your skin – you should be able to really soak in it. Make sure the water is as warm as is comfortable for you, but not hot. You don’t want to burn yourself.
- Add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts to the water and mix it well. You should be able to pick up a 500g bag of Epsom salts (aka magnesium sulphate) from the supermarket for under $5, so it’s a cost-effective wee ingredient.
- Attach your pump as usual – it may be a little messy to begin with, which is why we don’t want to do this while baby is still there! Leave the pump attached for 10-15 minutes, making sure the warm salt bath inside is in contact with your skin. Once attached, the combination of suction, warm water, and the Epsom Salts themselves will help soothe your breast and remove the clog. If your blockage is large, you may need to repeat the process every few hours until it clears.
- Rinse your breast to get rid of the salts once you’ve finished!
It’s that simple – no complicated manoeuvres, no expensive ingredients – just your pump, warm water, Epsom salts and a quarter of an hour to sit and catch up with your reading – or whatever you like to fill 15 minutes of your time with! Check out our Instagram video for a quick demonstration:
A good use for a pump you no longer need is one we discussed in our gardening blog – they are excellent when used as vase or a plant propagation device – check out the gardening blog for a quick reminder!
Of course, because Haakaa pumps are made of silicone and don’t feature any tiny, fiddly tubes or parts, they are suitable for being passed on. If you no longer need yours but know someone who does, it can easily be cleaned and sterilised before passing them on to a new home!
These little bags are lifesavers when storing all that milk we’ve expressed. They’re easy to transport, store comfortably in the fridge or freezer (either lying down or standing up!), and you can heat the milk right in the bag. You probably already know you aren’t restricted to just milk, either – juices and purées are excellent in these (and their younger sibling, the Yummy Pouch!). They don’t just have to be for your kids’ use, though – adults can use them, too, and not just for a convenient drink or yoghurt holder. We mentioned above about using heat to help unclog milk ducts; this is where a clean, empty Milk Storage Bag can come in extra handy! If you need to gently apply heat to your breast (or anywhere that needs some heat therapy!), you can just fill your Milk Storage Bag with warm water! Treat it like a hot water bottle – fill it roughly three-quarters full, ensuring the water isn’t too hot, then gently push the air up until the water level almost reaches the base of the neck. Pop in the stopper, and you’re good to go! Unlike a full-sized hot water bottle, using your Milk Storage Bag in this way is nice and light and perfectly suited to warming small areas.
Conversely, you can also fill it with water then freeze it to use as an icepack! Minor injuries or insect stings and bites can often be helped with an ice pack, and the milk bags serve this purpose wonderfully! Fill with water no further than three quarters (water expands as it freezes), push the air out the same way you would with warm water, then pop it into the freezer. Next time you need one, grab and wrap it in a clean tea towel to avoid prolonged cold exposure (as this can be bad for skin and nerves) and apply where it’s needed. You could even pop them into a bag or chiller when you need to keep your drinks or food cold while out and about. Just because you no longer need the bags for milk storage doesn’t mean they aren’t still enormously valuable!
Haakaa’s Colostrum Collectors have been a game changer in getting precious colostrum to our new arrivals. Single-use plastic syringes had been the standard, but now there’s a plastic-free, reusable option that’s easy to clean and sterilise. In addition, the medical-grade silicone they’re made from is super soft, so delicate mouths can feed from them without worry. But what can be done with them once the need to collect, store, and feed colostrum is over? As specialised as these exceptional items seem, there is a whole world of other uses for them.
First, and most intuitively, is to use it as a dropper. Clean and sterilise the containers (simply boil in water for 2-3 minutes to sterilise), and they make for excellent eye droppers. The nib can be popped off to fill the container, then put securely back in – there’s even an attached cap, so you don’t accidentally squeeze any liquid out while you’re getting ready. Always follow the directions of the drops you are using, and ensure the collector is well sterilised before use - eyes are especially delicate.
You don’t even have to use them for anything related to babies at all! Need a small travel dropper for your cosmetics? The colostrum collector is perfect. Need them for your art supplies? They’re great little paint droppers and they’ll last you almost forever. In fact, anything you can think of to use a dropper for, the colostrum collector might be able to do. They even make fancy miniature flower vases for daisies and other small flowers!
These are just a small number of different uses for a few Haakaa products. What about you? Do you have other uses for these, or any other products?