If there's one question that a huge number of people have, it's this: what exactly is a Ladybug Milk Collector, and how is it different from a breast pump? Of course, it's not the only one; some others you or the loved ones in your life can include "which breast pump is right for me?" or "do I need to get a stopper or a cap for the pump?" If these (or similar) questions have been on your mind, fear not – we have you covered. And don’t forget the best part – each Haakaa pump is suitable for all breast shapes and sizes – no special versions are required!
There are three Haakaa breast pumps – Gen. 1, Gen. 2, and Gen. 3. The key thing to remember is that all three generations have the same flange – the flared part at the top that attaches the pump to your breast. It’s only the pump body that changes.
Our Gen. 1 pump – the OG Haakaa! – is a single piece of 100% food-grade silicone. It is lightweight, quiet, and fits perfectly into most handbags or baby bags. This generation comes in one handy 100ml capacity and requires no cords or batteries to work, nor does it need any assembly. All these features mean it is effortless to clean and sterilise. A hand wash in warm, soapy water will get it sparkling clean after use (getting our handy Silicone Bottle Brush Kit will make life even easier), then to sterilise before use, simply boil in water for 2-3 minutes or pop in a steam steriliser! Using it is just as simple, and you have two options. First, for a draw with less suction, simply squeeze the base of the pump. Place the flange over your nipple, making sure your nipple is centred in the neck of the pump. Next, release the base of the pump so it suctions onto your breast – you may need to adjust the position to get the best suction and most comfort. The harder you squeeze the pump, the stronger the suction will be. The second option, which will give you the strongest suction, is to fold the flange back before you suction it to your breast. Once attached, fold the flange back to its original position so it sits snug against your skin. Once attached you can then leave the pump to do its thing! Once it’s full (or once you want to remove it), break the seal and remove. Empty the milk into a clean, sterile container and either reattach it if you’re going to pump more or wash it in preparation for next time!
The Gen. 2 pump is very similar to its predecessor. There are two differences between the two, however. First, while the Gen. 1 pump only comes in a 100ml capacity, the Gen. 2 comes in 100ml and 150ml, giving you more options if you pump a lot of milk. The second difference is in the base – whereas the Gen. 1 pump has a flat bottom, the Gen. 2 pump has a handy suction cup on the base, meaning you can stick it down to a flat surface with one hand, helping to prevent spills. This is particularly useful if you are pumping on one side while feeding on the other – there’s no need to interrupt your little one to put the pump down.
Generation 3, on the other hand, is a whole new design, though still based around the same flange. Rather than being a single piece of silicone, the flange of the Gen. 3 is removable. The Gen. 3 pumps have a range of attachments to switch out in place of the flange, including a bottle-feeding teat, meaning you can pump milk directly into the bottle. Simply swap the flange for the bottle teat, and you’re good to go! The bottle teat isn’t all, though. There is also a spoon-feeding attachment for when your wee one first begins solids. Mix your early solids with a little breast milk in the bottle, then attach the spoon rather than the bottle teat – it’s that easy! And don’t forget to check out our blog with some tips on getting started on solids while you’re here. And when they're old enough, there’s even a Sippy Spout Attachment or Bottle Handle (Note: the Bottle Handle will only fit the 250ml Gen. 3 bottle, not the 160ml).
There are two options for keeping your milk safe while it remains in the pump, and both of these will work no matter which generation Haakaa pump you have. First up is the Flower Stopper. As the name implies, this is a flower-shaped stopper that fits snugly into the neck of the flange, preventing milk from spilling due to accidental knocks. The stopper is perfect for when you need to keep your milk safe but are still in the middle of a feed. Made of 100% silicone, it is easy to squeeze with one hand and insert into the pump, keeping your other hand free to continue feeding bubs!
The other option is the Pump Cap. This silicone cap fits over the top of the flange, not only stopping accidental spillages but also keeping your pump free of dust and other airborne nasties! This cap requires both hands to fit, but is able to keep your pump clean between uses (just remember to sterilise before each use).
Now we come to milk collectors. How do they differ from pumps? Essentially, pumps actively draw milk from your breasts to store and use later, while collectors are passive, collecting any milk that may leak from your breasts during or between feeds. Some mums don’t leak milk, so a collector may not be for them, but for those who do, there are several options. You may have seen, heard of, or even already used nursing pads – small round or butterfly-shaped pieces of material that soak up this leakage. Haakaa has two choices – our Disposable Nursing Pads, made of super-absorbent polymer, or the All-Day Reusable Nursing Pad Set, made from soft bamboo and absorbent microfibre. But what’s even better than a pad, reusable or not? The Ladybug Milk Collector! Made of 100% medical-grade silicone, the Ladybug uses incredibly light suction to attach to your breast without actively drawing milk. For this reason it won’t work as a pump, but it will catch your let-down and leakage in a handy light container that you can add to your expressed milk, rather than having it soak into a nursing pad! The Ladybug comes in three capacities – 150ml, 75ml, or 40ml, meaning no matter whether your leakage is light or heavy, there’s an option for you. It sits inside your bra, meaning you can use one on the other side while feeding or pop two in as you go about your day. As with the pumps, they are easy to sterilise – boiling in water or using a steam steriliser will do the trick! Once full (or after a maximum of two hours’ use, whichever comes first), just pop the plug at the top of the Ladybug out to pour your milk out to be stored – make sure to always follow your country’s breastmilk storage guidelines. As a note, however, if you are planning to feed the collected milk to your baby, the Ladybug should be emptied and the milk properly stored at least every two hours. As an added bonus, when buying the two-pack, you get a free (and super stylish!) Storage Bag!
Of course, the Ladybug isn’t the only collector in the Haakaa Range – there is also the Silicone Colostrum Collector! This little item is quite different though, in that it is not used while breastfeeding. Instead, sometimes your midwife may ask you to collect colostrum before your baby is born. Colostrum is the ‘first milk’ your body produces for your newborn, and it is full of nutrients and antibodies to give your wee one a great start. To use, you’ll need to hand express some of that colostrum – it often comes out just in drops – then use the Colostrum Collector to store it. Traditionally, this would be done using a plastic syringe, so the Silicone Colostrum Collector is a fantastic replacement – not only is there no plastic to deal with, but it’s softer as well! It’s even designed so your baby can feed directly from it once they are born. Just make sure to only express colostrum with your midwife or other maternity provider’s knowledge and approval, as the nipple stimulation of hand expressing can have the risk of bringing on labour.
Pumps and milk collectors seem similar, but they serve very different functions. The key difference to remember is in the names – breast pumps actively pump milk from your breasts, whereas collectors just collect what is leaking out by itself. Which one you use will depend on your needs – and if you’re ever unsure, your midwife, lactation consultant, or other maternity care professional can help you out.