Being a new mommy means that you have a lot of decisions to make regarding your baby’s health. One of the most pressing issues that can cross a new mom’s mind is figuring out the perfect method to feed your baby.
We’ve created this guide so that you can have a better understanding of the pros and cons of breastfeeding vs pumping.
Now, let’s dive in!
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
According to recent research, the mother’s breast milk is the number one source of all the essential nutrients that a baby might need. While both breastfeeding and pumping have this advantage in common, the former might have a few extra pros than the latter. Let’s take a look at these points.
Breastfeeding Provides an Irreplaceable Bond Between the Mom and the Baby
The wondrous thing about the breastfeeding relationship is that it creates an unmatched bond between mom and baby. And we’re not only being rhetorical here.
Scientists have discovered that breast milk is naturally customized for the baby, depending on the body’s feedback. For instance, the baby’s saliva interacts with the brast milk, which sends messages to the mother’s brain about the baby’s immune system needs.
As a result, the baby will get the exact nutrients that his body can rely on to grow. Even better, it was found that the breast milk composition keeps changing as the baby ages to suit every stage of his growth.
It Is Affordable and Convenient
Another great thing about breastfeeding is that it costs the mother nothing more than her bodily labor. A breastfeeding mom won’t need to buy any expensive supplies.
Yes, she might need to purchase breast pads. However, these aren’t that pricey, especially when compared to the cost of a breast pump.
Furthermore, feeding the baby at the breast is more convenient. When you wake up in the middle of the night, it’s much easier to hold your baby to your chest than any other alternative.
Breastfeeding Is A Natural Way to Soothe Your Baby
Undoubtedly, the skin-to-skin contact between the mom and the infant can soothe anxious, hurt, or scared babies.
According to some studies, it was found that breastfeeding was able to hush babies a lot faster after taking painful vaccinations or shots.
Also, this direct breastfeeding allows the baby to have a strong connection with the mother. As a result, the baby can relax more quickly, which makes it easier to fall asleep.
The Benefits of Pumping
In some cases, moms may choose exclusive pumping instead of exclusive breastfeeding for any number of reasons. Returning to work, or breastfeeding aversions are common reasons why parents might choose exclusive pumping.
Lets explore the benefits of exclusively pumping.
Pumping May Provide More Freedom for the Mother
The best thing about pumping is that it doesn’t put all the feeding load on the mother alone. By pumping her breast milk and storing it in bottles, anyone can feed the baby if she’s not available.
Of course, this allows working moms to do their jobs without worrying about feeding their babies. In addition, pumping lets parents share the duty of feeding their baby, giving each some alone time to do their daily tasks.
Pumping Gives Mom Time to Recover
First-time moms need some time to recover and adjust to their new status. Plus, moms giving birth to their second or third child should be allowed to find some steady ground to care for all her kids.
All these thoughts combined with a busy breastfeeding schedule could lead to stress or even depression. Therefore, pumping can take some burden off a mother’s back, giving her the chance to figure everything else out.
Adds Donor Breast Milk to the Equation
Sometimes, a mother might be unable to provide breast milk for her infant. Yet, the parents may not want to use the baby formula either because of financial, health or personal reasons.
In this case, caregivers have the option of using donor breast milk, which is another benefit that pumping can give you. This way, the infant will still get natural, nutrient-filled milk without facing the endless issues of the formula.
Likewise, a mother with a good supply might like to consider donating her extra breast milk to help another family who is unable to breastfeed.
Downsides to Breastfeeding
To be honest, there aren’t that many drawbacks to breastfeeding. Still, we’d like to mention a few points that you should keep in mind.
- Exclusively breastfeeding means that all feeding is done by the breastfeeding mother.
- It can make it harder to establish a regular schedule, as babies need to be breastfed on demand.
- There may be less free time to do daily chores or deal with the aftermath of childbirth
- Some breastfeeding moms may get sore, cracked, or sometimes infected nipples.
Downsides to Exclusive Pumping
Let’s take a quick look at the cons of pumping breast milk.
- Less skin-to-skin contact
- Fewer immune system benefits
- The breast milk won’t be tailored to the baby’s immune needs
- Less convenient due to the often bulky equipment
- Some people can encounter some issues with milk storage issues due to lack of space
- Pumped milk is prone to spoilage, even when frozen
Last but not least, pumping can cost you a lot more than breastfeeding because you’ll need to buy several supplies. These items include:
- Breast pump
- Storage bags
- Flanges for the pumps
- A hands-free pumping bra
- An additional freezer or refrigerator (in case there isn’t enough storage space)
Making Your Decision
Now that you’re aware of both the breastfeeding vs. pumping pros and cons, making your choice should be a tad easier. Keeping all the previous points in mind, it’s time to weigh all your options.
Simply, your decision should be made according to your lifestyle, what you’re ready to give, and the arrangements that you have with your partner. Eventually, the picture should become clearer.
At the end of the day, you can actually do both. And this can have all the benefits of both styles of feeding. Breast pumps are an excellent tool to help new mothers to bring in or increase supply and can allow dad or another caregiver to give your new baby a meal, allowing mum to rest.
Pointing out the benefits of pumping vs breastfeeding can be the first step to figuring out which one you’d rather choose. While both are far better options than bottle-feeding with formula, each one of these feeding methods has its unique positives.
However, there is no reason why you can’t mix breastfeeding and pumping. Feeding your baby doesn’t have to be one or the other, and you can choose to take the best parts from each. If you are going back to work but want to maintain your milk supply to continue breastfeeding, you can do that by pumping during your working hours and breastfeeding after work. This way, you will be able to give your baby pumped breast milk while you are away and still be able to get the immune benefits and bonding benefits from breastfeeding.
Your duty is to find the right balance between your baby’s health, you and your partner’s needs, and your budget. After all, a loving and stress-free household is key to a healthy and happy baby.
Remember if you are struggling with breast feeding or pumping, you can seek the help of a lactation consultant who will be able to help you with advice around latching, milk supply and milk production.