breastfeeding vs exclusive pumping

Breastfeeding vs Exclusive Pumping: Which is Right for You?

Disclosure: I may get commissions when you click through the affiliate links (that are great products I stand by) on my articles. You can read the full disclosure for more information. Content is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.

Are you a new or expectant parent, weighing the options of breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, or perhaps a combination of both? As a mother who has breastfed both of my children for over a year each, and now a breastfeeding counselor, I understand the importance of making informed decisions and finding the method that works best for you and your baby.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of breastfeeding vs exclusive pumping, explore combination feeding, discuss planning for breastfeeding or exclusive pumping, and share tips for returning to work.

Breastfeeding and exclusive pumping are two distinct ways to nourish your little one with the invaluable benefits of breast milk.

While breastfeeding means nursing your baby directly from the breast, exclusive pumping involves expressing milk with a breast pump and offering it to your baby via a bottle. Each method comes with its unique advantages and challenges, and the ideal choice will ultimately depend on your personal circumstances.

When it comes to breastfeeding, it’s hard to overstate the benefits for both baby and mother.

Breast milk is nature’s perfect recipe, delivering the essential nutrients and immune-boosting antibodies your baby needs to thrive. Plus, it’s easier on their delicate digestive system than formula.

For moms, breastfeeding can strengthen the emotional bond with her baby and may even lower the risk of certain health issues like breast and ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis. However, breastfeeding can present its own set of challenges, such as latching difficulties or not being able to produce milk, which may make it a daunting experience for some mothers. In fact, some moms decide to end their breastfeeding journey earlier than they would like.

On the flip side, exclusive pumping offers mothers the opportunity to provide their babies with nourishing breast milk while gaining more flexibility and control over their schedules. This method can be a lifesaver for working moms or those who need to be away from their little ones for extended periods. Exclusive pumping also enables other family members to bond with the baby through feeding.


Keep in mind, though, that this approach demands a significant time commitment and can make maintaining a consistent milk supply more challenging.

Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the world of breastfeeding and exclusive pumping, providing you with the knowledge and insights needed to make the best decision for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding vs exclusive pumping: Pros and Cons

When it comes to feeding your baby, there are two main options: exclusive breastfeeding and exclusive pumping. Both methods have their pros and cons, and it’s important to understand them before making a decision.

BreastfeedingFor the baby: breast milk provides all the necessary nutrients and antibodies to fight off infections and diseases. It also promotes cognitive development and helps soothe babies.
For the mother, breastfeeding helps with bonding time and can reduce stress. It also releases hormones like prolactin that help with milk production and can aid in postpartum weight loss.
It can be difficult to establish a good latch in early infancy, which can result in discomfort and pain for the mom. Mothers can also find it challenging to nurse in public or when separated from their baby.
Breastfeeding requires a commitment to the baby’s feeding schedule and can be stressful if the mother is experiencing supply issues.
Exclusive PumpingExclusive pumping (EPing) can offer flexibility and convenience for moms who may not be able to directly breastfeed. It allows for the baby to still receive breast milk while the mother is away at work or school. It also allows for the partner or caregiver to have extra milk to help to feed the baby.
Exclusively pumping milk can also help with increasing milk production, It can also be helpful for mothers who have sore nipples or difficulty with latching.
Pumping can be uncomfortable and painful if not done correctly. It can also be time-consuming and expensive, as a good quality breast pump can be costly.
EPing also requires planning and scheduling, as pumped breast milk needs to be safely stored and transported. It can also be stressful if the mother is experiencing supply issues or if the baby is not taking well to the pumped or expressed milk.
The benefits and challenges of breastfeeding vs exclusive pumping

S0, both breastfeeding and exclusive pumping have their own pros and cons. It’s important to weigh these factors and choose what works best for you and your baby. Consult with a pediatrician and consider factors such as cost, convenience, and health benefits before making a decision.

If you decide to switch from exclusively pumping to exclusively breastfeeding read my guide here: How to Transition From Pumping to Breastfeeding: Your Relactation Strategy

Combination feeding

Also known as mixed feeding, this is the practice of combining breastfeeding and formula feeding or breast milk pumping. Formula has fewer immune system benefits than breast milk, so this practice allows moms to provide their babies with the benefits of breast milk while also supplementing with a formula feed or pumped milk when necessary.

Reasons for combination feeding

  • Low milk supply: Some moms may not be able to produce enough milk to meet their baby’s needs, and supplementing with formula can help ensure their baby is getting enough nutrition.

  • Returning to work: Moms who return to work may find it challenging to continue breastfeeding exclusively. Pumping and storing breast milk can be time-consuming, and some moms may not be able to pump enough to keep up with their baby’s needs.

  • Medical issues: Some babies may have medical issues that require them to be supplemented with formula or pumped milk.

Tips for combination feeding

  • Establish breastfeeding first: It’s important to establish a good breastfeeding routine before introducing formula or pumped milk. This will help ensure that your supply of milk is well-established and that your baby is getting enough milk.

  • Use the right equipment: If you’re pumping, make sure you’re using a high-quality breast pump that’s comfortable and efficient. Check out my recommendations for wearable and smart breast pumps. If you’re formula feeding, make sure you have the right bottles and nipples for your baby’s age and needs.

  • Keep track of feedings: It can be helpful to keep a log of when your baby is breastfeeding, receiving formula, or being fed pumped milk. This can help you keep track of how much your baby is eating and make adjustments as needed.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider: If you have any concerns about combination feeding or your baby’s nutrition, talk to your healthcare provider. They can provide guidance and support to help you make the best decisions for you and your baby.

Planning for breastfeeding or exclusive pumping


Breastfeeding and exclusive pumping require a significant amount of time and dedication. It’s important to create a schedule that works for you and your baby. Consider factors such as your work schedule, your baby’s feeding habits, and your own personal preferences.


Having a supportive partner can make all the difference when it comes to successful breastfeeding or exclusive pumping. Make sure your partner is informed about the benefits of breast milk and is willing to help with feedings and other tasks.

Lactation consultant

A lactation consultant can provide guidance and support as you feed your baby and navigate breastfeeding or exclusive pumping. Consider meeting with a lactation consultant before your baby is born to discuss any concerns or questions you may have.

Flanges and suction

Choosing the right flanges and suction settings for your breast pump can make a big difference in your pumping experience. Experiment with different sizes and suction settings to find what works best for you.

Electric Pump and Hospital-Grade Pump

An electric breast pump can save time and make pumping more efficient. Consider investing in a hospital-grade pump if you plan to exclusively pump or have difficulty with milk supply.

Check out my recommendations for breast pumps here:

The best wearable breast pumps: Express milk anywhere, anytime

The 6 Best Smart Breast Pumps for Busy Moms


If you plan to travel while breastfeeding or exclusive pumping, consider bringing a portable breast pump and storage containers. Make sure to research local laws and regulations regarding breastfeeding and pumping in public.

Freezing and storage containers

If you plan to freeze breast milk, make sure to use appropriate milk storage and containers and label them with the date and time.

Read my post for more information about this:

How to Organize Frozen Breast Milk in Your Freezer – 10 Expert Tips

Breastfeeding and exclusive pumping

Whether you choose to breastfeed or exclusively pump, it’s important to prioritize your own comfort and well-being. Make sure to take breaks and rest when needed, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

Returning to work

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a challenging time for new mothers who are breastfeeding or exclusively pumping breast milk.

However, with proper planning and preparation, it is possible to pump exclusively and continue providing breast milk for your baby even when you are away from them.

  • One important step is to communicate with your employer about your breastfeeding or pumping needs. Many companies have policies in place to support new mothers, such as providing a private room for pumping or allowing flexible work schedules. It is also helpful to discuss your work schedule with your pediatrician to determine how much milk and often you should pump or breastfeed during the day.

  • If you are exclusively pumping, it is important to establish a pumping schedule that works for you. This may involve pumping every 2-3 hours during the workday to maintain your milk production. You may also want to consider using a breast pump app to help track your pumping sessions and milk output.

  • It is also a good idea to build up a supply of pumped milk before returning to work. This can be done by either pumping milk after breastfeeding or during times when your baby is napping. Having a freezer stash of milk can give you peace of mind and ensure that your baby has enough milk while you are away.

  • If you do need to supplement with formula while at work, it is important to talk to your pediatrician about the best options for your own baby’s nutritional. They can recommend a formula that is appropriate for your baby’s age and needs.


Exclusive breastfeeding and exclusive pumping are both valid options for feeding your baby. Each feeding method also has its own benefits and drawbacks, and ultimately the decision should be based on what works best for you and your baby.

Exclusively breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits for both mom and baby.

It promotes bonding, provides essential nutrients, and has been shown to have cognitive benefits for infants. Additionally, the act of breastfeeding can be soothing for both mom and baby and provides important skin-to-skin contact. However, breastfeeding can be challenging for some moms, particularly if they experience issues with latching or milk supply.

Exclusive pumping can be a convenient alternative to breastfeeding for many moms who are unable to breastfeed or prefer not to.

It allows for flexibility in timing and can be done by a caregiver, allowing for more freedom for the mom. Pumped breast milk can be stored in breast milk storage bags and frozen for later use, making it a great option for moms who need to plan ahead or have supply issues. However, exclusive pumping can be expensive, time-consuming, and can cause stress and discomfort for some moms.

When deciding between exclusively breastfeeding, exclusively pumping, or using a combination of both, it’s important to consult with a pediatrician or lactation specialist to determine what is best for you and your baby.

Ultimately, the decision to exclusively breastfeed, exclusively pump, or use formula should be made based on what works best for you and your baby. With proper planning and support, any method can be successful.


Have questions? I have answers.

Not quite, but close. Exclusive pumping provides many benefits of breastfeeding, but lacks some aspects like direct skin-to-skin contact that a breastfeeding relationship will provide.

Yes, exclusive pumping can be harder due to the need for regular pumping, cleaning, and bottle feeding.

Disadvantages include less skin-to-skin contact, potential for lower milk supply, and increased time and effort.

The duration varies, but many moms exclusively pump for 6-12 months or until they decide to wean their baby on to solid foods.

Generated with Pin Generator

Similar Posts