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Does Pumping Help You Lose Weight?

Pregnant women by the end of their third trimester mostly ask, does pumping burn as many calories as breastfeeding? We have seen many nursing mothers who can even burn 500 calories a day using a breast pump.

So, breastfeeding or pumping: which is better for weight loss. When people find out that you are pregnant, they (usually women) mostly suggest you breastfeed the baby. It is beneficial for both mother and the baby.

In this article, we will talk about both pumping and breastfeeding to lose weight. Let us find which is more effective.

breastfeeding baby and pumping

image credit: stock.adobe.com

Table of Content


Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for an infant. The baby gets the required nourishment from the mother’s milk in the first six months. It has a mix of proteins, vitamins and fat that is beneficial for the growth of the baby. Also, a baby can easily digest breast milk.

It also contains antibodies which help the baby to fight back virus and bacteria. Breast milk lowers the risk of asthma and allergies in the baby. While breastfeeding, the physical closeness, skin to skin contact and eye contact strengthen the mother and child bond.

Breastfed infants gain the right weight as they grow without becoming overweight. Breastfeeding also decreases the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Breastfeeding Benefits of a Mother

Breastfeeding help mothers to lose pregnancy weight faster by burning extra calories. It tends to release the hormone oxytocin that helps to shrink the uterus in pre-pregnancy size. It helps to decrease the uterine bleeding after childbirth. Studies show that breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, along with osteoporosis.

What is Pumping?

New mothers need a break from breastfeeding their baby when they are off to work or out for an event. They try pumping. It is a method of preserving the precious milk of mothers and also help maintain the milk supply, relieve engorgement and create a backup stash for the freezer.

At first, pumping may seem fearsome, but it is a handy tool. A new mother should start pumping when she thinks it is necessary based on her situation. Some new mother starts right after their baby is born, in the hospital or care center. It helps initiate breastfeeding or to encourage their milk supply.

It is necessary to get an early start on pumping if the mother is unable to nurse her baby from birth, for instance, if the baby is premature or has special needs. Some mothers wait a week or two before starting pumping.

Benefits of Pumping

There are many reasons why a mother pumps her breast milk. Check out the benefits of pumping:

  • Pumping relieves engorgement of the breast of a new mother.
  • The mother will be able to go back to work and still nurse her baby with breast milk. 
  • The mother will not only be responsible for feeding, but her partner or the caregiver also can feed the baby.
  • Pumping allows a mother to boost her milk supply even before the baby needs more milk, which also helps to store the extra for later down the road.
  • Pumping allows mothers to donate the extra milk to mothers who are unable to breastfeed their babies themselves but want to give their little ones the benefits of breast milk.

5 Best Breast Pump

Side Effects of Pumping

Breast pumps allow mothers to feed their baby breast milk even when they are not around. But using pumps certainly has some side effects and disadvantages that new mothers should know.

  • It can reduce milk supply: Continuously pumping breast milk reduces milk supply. Because a breast pumps mechanism is much different from a newborn latching on to mother’s nipple and suckling stimulates milk production of mother. If a baby is not allowed to latch on, milk production gradually decreases.
  • Freezing breast milk depletes nutrients: A baby gets full nutrition from mother’s milk when fed directly. Storing and freezing breast milk, thawing and reheating it causes depletion of vital nutrients in the breast milk.
  • Damage of nipple and breast tissue: If the pump is misplaced or wrong setting can create irritable pain while pumping. Manual pumps also cause pain both in the breast and hands of the mother.
  • Confuses baby: When the baby is fed both by bottle and breast, the baby gets confused due to difference in suckling mechanism. If the baby does not latch well while breastfeeding the baby may suck harder on the mother’s nipple and causes sore nipple, as he does when bottle-fed with a rubber nipple.
  • Painful engorgement and excessive let down: electric breast pumps pump too much milk, storing huge supply for later. It initiates the release of too many hormones in the body. It makes the breast swell and filled with more milk. It is more painful for a nursing mother.
  • Bonding: a close emotional bonding between mother and baby established in direct breastfeeding. It cannot be substitute by bottle feeding.
  • Repetitive cycle of washing and sterilizing bottles: It is a disadvantage of breast pumps that all the parts need to be thoroughly washed and sterilized before and after use. The bacteria and fungus find the nutrient-rich breast milk as an ideal environment to grow and multiply if all the parts of the pump not washed properly. Thus contaminate breast milk making the baby fall sick.
  • Tooth decay: prolong exposure to milk in the bottle causes caries of the baby’s teeth. When breastfed, the nipple lies behind the baby’s teeth. While bottle-feeding the baby may fall asleep with the bottle in the mouth, the milk to covers the tooth.
  • Delays mother’s recovery after birth: while breastfeeding the hormone oxytocin is released. It helps in reducing post-partum bleeding is released in the body. It also helps to contract the uterus in its actual size in six weeks. But it takes ten weeks or more when the mother did not breastfeed her baby.

How Many Calories Needed for Breastfeeding?

Everyone has different calorie needs as per their demand. So, there is no specific number of calorie requirement. A highly active woman needs more calorie than a sedentary working woman. It is better to consult a doctor to find out the exact need for calorie. But a good rule of thumb is to add 300-500 extra calorie to your pre-pregnancy diet.

How Many Calories Do Breastfeeding and Pumping Burn?

A lactating mother needs 300-500 extra calories with her diet to meet up the nutrition both for her and the baby. It seems like a wide range of calories. So the ultimate question comes of burning calories or losing weight while breastfeeding or pumping. We must look into the difference in burning calories between exclusive breastfeeding and exclusive pumping.

Exclusive Breastfeeding

In exclusive breastfeeding, a lactating mother did not know how much she is burning. She might not get the accurate number, yet she can have an idea of how much she is burning. To track how much she is producing the milk, she can weight her baby before and after feeding. Then she can figure out how much weight she is burning from breastfeeding. The number may be from 300-850 calories. Yes, it is a huge difference, but it also depends on a lot of factors.

Exclusive Pumping

In exclusive pumping, a lactating mother can count the amount that she is producing. So she can precisely measure the calorie outcome. Exclusive breast pumping can also be an option if she is unable to breastfeed but want breast milk to be a part of her parenting plan. She may lose some of the weight gained during pregnancy while exclusively pumping. Pumping mothers can burn up to 500 extra calories per day.

A Healthy Diet and Meal Plan for Breastfeeding Mothers

It is a question that nursing mothers mostly ask whether they can diet while breastfeeding their baby. Let find out the answer.

A breastfeeding mother needs 500-700 extra calories per day. So she should take 2000-2700 calories each day while breastfeeding or pumping. Sometimes fad diet is required to limit the calorie intake. But losing weight quickly while pumping or breastfeeding can produce toxins in the body. The body stores these toxins in body fat and releases them when breaks down fat which aim to lose less than 1.5 lbs a week.

Always try to keep the body dehydrated. Avoid taking high calorie or high-fat foods. Also, limit caffeine intake and alcohol. A healthy meal for weight loss for a nursing mother includes fresh vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy and heart-healthy fats. These foods are filling and provide lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Nursing Mom workout

While breastfeeding and pumping try to work on moderate exercise. Physical activity helps burn extra calories and increase weight loss potential. However, excessive exercise lets lactic acid enter into breast milk. It is better to pump milk before the workout.

Tips to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding:

There is no guarantee that nursing can cut off the excess pounds. Here are some helpful guidelines to aid weight loss.

  • Start exercising
  • Must eat healthy food
  • Get enough sleep and rest
  • Start slow

Bottom Line

A lactating mother should not worry about her weight in the first six weeks. During this time, a balanced diet and enough rest recommended for her. The body needs extra calorie to recover from the delivery and establish a healthy breast milk supply for the baby.

Once regained from childbirth think of losing weight but go slow. Consult the physician before starting for weight loss. Always remember it took nine months to gain the extra weight, so give some time to reach weight loss goals. There is scope to catch up weight loss goals long after breastfeeding ends.

Related Reading:

  1. Losing Weight After Stopping Breastfeeding
  2. Foods to Eat While Breastfeeding
  3. Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Thanks for reading!

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