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What Is the Difference Between Breastfeeding & Pumping?

author image Tina Pashley
In 2008, Tina Pashley put her passion for animal advocacy to work by writing a weekly pet adoption and care column in the Martinsville Chronicle. She currently contributes to two consumer advocacy websites and several healthcare publications. Pashley holds a Bachelor of Science in communications from the University of Phoenix.
What Is the Difference Between Breastfeeding & Pumping?
Pumping gives your baby the nutrition of your breast milk. Photo Credit Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images

The American Pregnancy Association advocates feeding your baby breast milk instead of formula, if possible. Your breast milk gives your baby the essential nutrients he needs and is safely digestible. Both natural breastfeeding -- directly feeding your baby from your breast -- and breast pumping give your baby the nutritional benefits of your milk.


Breastfeeding is a method of feeding your baby directly with your own breast milk. Your breasts naturally produce milk to feed your newborn baby and continue to do so as your baby feeds from your breast. Pumping is another method of feeding your baby your milk. Instead of the baby latching directly onto your breast, your milk is expressed either by a breast pump or manually. Pumping your milk allows you to store your milk for convenient feeding throughout the day.

Breastfeeding Benefits

Breastfeeding allows bonding time between you and your baby. Additionally, it is far less expensive than other feeding alternatives, requiring only nursing bras and pads. The nutrition in breast milk is unparalleled, and the nutritional value of your milk changes to meet your growing baby's needs. When your baby feeds directly from your breast, warming the milk is unnecessary -- it is the perfect temperature for your child.

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Pumping Benefits

Pumping is ideal for the mother on the go. With a mom's busy schedule, breast milk can be pumped ahead of time and stored in easy-to-grab containers when you are in a hurry. Besides its convenience, pumping allows others to feed your baby when you are unavailable. Pumping your breast milk also helps maintain and even increase your milk production. You also can pump between natural breastfeeding sessions to help create more milk.


Breastfeeding can be inconvenient for mothers whose babies need feeding every few hours. When you are busy or out in public, breastfeeding can feel like a nuisance. However, pumping breast milk has its disadvantages as well. Sometimes you must prepare for the next several feedings ahead of time when your daily schedule is hectic. You must be organized, properly labeling the most current breast milk and storing at the proper temperature. This milk must be warmed when it's time to feed your baby. Also, pumping devices are uncomfortable for many women.

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