Nowadays, there are many different options when it comes to feeding your baby. Once upon a time, breastfeeding was the only option, but now we have formula and breast pumps readily available for any mother who may need them.
Knowing that breastmilk is the best option (health-wise) for your child, ruling out formula can be an easy decision for a lot of mothers.
But what about the decision between pumping and breastfeeding? Is there really one that is better than the other? How do I know what is right for me?
We are going to explore this topic in detail and make five arguments in favor of each so that you can decide what suits your circumstances, and preferences.
The Case for Breastfeeding
We have listed five of our best arguments for breastfeeding below, but there are a stack of benefits that are beyond the scope of this article. Check out our full list of the benefits of breastfeeding here.
1. Breastfeeding Promotes Bonding
Breastfeeding creates an inexplicable bond between mother and child. This bond has been shown to have amazing long-term benefits for a child, not only in physical growth but also in their mental health and interpersonal relationships.
The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) measures children against eight common behavioral aspects. The higher a child scores, the more problematic their mental health is perceived to be.
Children who are breastfed typically score lower on the CBCL, and these results improve the longer a child is breastfed.
There is also something to be said for skin-to-skin contact between mother and child, which releases the hormones oxytocin and serotonin.
These encourage a strong bond to develop between mother and baby, and due to this bond, these children tend to have better emotional development and stability.
2. Breastfeeding Requires No Preparation
Preparing for an outing with your baby can be quite an ordeal. You may feel that you are packing for a weekend getaway when, in reality, it will only be a couple of hours.
With breastfeeding, there is one less thing you need to worry about preparing.
The food source is attached and travels with you wherever you go. No need to pack bottles or measure out how much formula or breastmilk you will need to take with you.
All you need is you and your baby.
3. Breastfeeding Reduces Stress and Encourages Relaxation
Hormones play a vital role in the female reproductive system, from menstruation to childbirth to breastfeeding.
One of these hormones, oxytocin, is responsible for the milk ejection reflex. This allows the milk to drop and start flowing when your baby is ready to eat.
Oxytocin is also often called the “love hormone”. It is crucial in all aspects of human relationships and pair bonding.
This hormone regulates social interaction and plays a role in behavioral aspects such as empathy, trust, and generosity. It is also known to be the antidote to feelings of depression. (6)
Science and biology put aside, there is no question that there is something indescribable that happens when a mother hold her baby in her arms.
In those intimate moments that you are nursing your baby, it is almost as if you feel that there is not a care in the world.
4. Breastfeeding Costs No Money
Breast pumps, if you are looking for one that actually does a decent job, are very expensive. There are many insurance companies now that can help you get reimbursed or provide one.
However, this can still affect your yearly allowance, creating additional costs to you for later doctor’s visits.
Arguably, the best thing about breastfeeding is that it is free!
For some mothers, including myself, this may be the sole deciding factor between breast, pump, or formula.
All you have to do is make sure you have enough healthy foods to continue producing, and the rest is up to your body’s natural instincts.
5. Breastfeeding Aids in Proper Oral Development
Orthodontics are probably not something you are thinking about with your infant, but there are things in infancy that can affect their oral development.
Babies and children who use improperly sized bottle nipples and pacifiers, and those that suck their thumbs, can cause the palate to be too narrow.
Breastfeeding can reduce cost in the long run by helping to avoid extensive orthodontic treatment.
With a wide latch and constant repositioning, a child’s palate retains its proper wide, flat shape.
This aids in proper respiratory function, the position of their teeth as they come in, and clear speech patterns.
This Mom Chose Breastfeeding
The Case for Pumping
Before we go into our assessment on the act of pumping breast milk, just a quick note to check out our review of the best breast pumps on the market today, and a stack of other pumping tips here.
1. Pumping Gives You Feeding Flexibility
As a new mother, you are going to be exhausted. There will be long, sleepless nights, and days where you just need 20 minutes to close your eyes.
One of the best things about pumping is the fact that it frees you up to allow others to help in the feeding process.
You and Dad can take turns getting up for the nighttime feedings.
Grandma can prepare a bottle so you can take a midday nap.
By having pumped milk available in the fridge or freezer, you can ensure that your little one is taken care of while you are taking care of yourself.
2. Pumping Makes Feeding in Public Easier
There is undoubtedly a great debate on the subject of public breastfeeding.
Regardless of which side you are on or whether the argument is justified one way or the other, the fact still stands that there is a stigma placed on mothers who choose to breastfeed their children in public.
If this attitude makes you uncomfortable, pumping can help put you at ease.
You will not need to fear glances or murmurs from onlookers if you are feeding your child from a bottle in the café.
There is great relief in knowing that you are still doing right by your child while being conscious of others’ feelings.
3. Pumping Keeps You to A Schedule
Every mother dreams of the day when her child will be on a predictable schedule. Housework, leisure time, and even (mommy) naps can be factored into the daily routine when there is a schedule.
Unfortunately, it could very well be at least 6 months to a year before your little one is on a schedule.
When you are at the mercy of your child’s changing needs, pumping can allow you to have at least one aspect of your life predictable.
Create a pumping schedule, and make it your time.
Relax, read a book, watch an episode of your favorite show. Take some much-needed mommy time.
4. Pumping Allows You to See How Much Milk Is Produced
One of the most stressful things I encountered when I first started breastfeeding was the fear that my little one was not getting enough to eat.
She was almost 10 pounds when she was born and grew very quickly, both in her size and her appetite.
I never experienced the initial engorgement that most mothers face when their milk comes in, so I was always scared that my body was not producing enough milk.
My daughter would still seem so hungry after she would nurse, and I began to become fearful that I would need to switch to formula.
The problem with stress is that it hinders your milk production. So, the more you stress, the less energy your body has to produce milk as it needs to.
Even though it turned out I had nothing to fear, I came to realize that pumping can help reduce that worry.
When you are pumping, you have a visual confirmation of exactly how much milk is coming out with each feeding.
You can see just how many ounces are produced which can help you determine how much your little one needs for her body weight.
No more stress, which makes for happy mommy and baby.
5. Pumping Helps the Weaning Process
When it comes to your child’s nutrition, there is nothing that compares with the complexity of breastmilk.
All of the vitamins and mineral provide so many benefits for every aspect of your child’s development. It also, amazingly, changes composition according to your little one’s needs.
It is no wonder many organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), recommend breastfeeding for a baby’s entire first year, and even into the second year if you and your child are up for it.
However, as healthy as it is, there comes a time when a child needs to be weaned and start eating more solid foods.
Breaking a child away from the breast or bottle can be difficult, but if you have a supply of pumped milk, it can be a bit easier and you can put it to good use.
Switching breastmilk to a cup (rather than a bottle) can make it easier for your little one to adjust.
You can even use that stocked-up supply as an additional ingredient in vegetable purees or healthy baked goods.
This way she is still getting the benefits of breastmilk throughout the weaning process.
This Mom Chose to Pump
There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to the options of breastfeeding and pumping. Both have their advantages, and both can fit any family’s lifestyle.
Often the choice will come down to whatever will make your life easier in the moment!
We hope that this article has given you some peace of mind and guidance in your decision.
Our desire is to show that there is no wrong answer and for you to feel supported no matter what route you decide to take. After all, you know your baby and your body best.
Do you have any questions or experiences to share? Leave a comment below. And if you liked this article, be sure to share it with other mothers who may find it useful.