Entering the world of “mom” can be a huge roller coaster. You’ve gone from nausea, heartburn, and anticipation of being pregnant to the beautiful chaos of labor and delivery. Now you’re likely wondering how to be the best mom and partner, all while you’re dealing with all those postpartum hormones.
So, can pumping burn as many calories as breastfeeding does? Breastfeeding and pumping are great ways to shed calories all the while giving your baby the nutrition and health benefits that come from your breastmilk. There’s a reason why doctors call it “liquid gold” – breast milk is incredible.
But that’s a whole other post!
The longer answer to this question is that it really depends on a few key variants, which I’ll dive more into in this post.
Maybe you’re even already thinking of what it will be like to return to work and naturally, you’re thinking about how to get back into shape.
Pregnancy takes a toll on our bodies and it’s natural (and healthy) for us to be excited about shedding that baby weight.
The world of fitness, health, and weight-loss can be really daunting as a new mom but what if I could tell you that pumping and breastfeeding are great starting points for your weight-loss?
Even before you’re cleared for a workout – you can start your journey to losing weight by breastfeeding or pumping!
One of the natural upsides of breastfeeding is that you burn calories.
If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you will need more calories in your daily diet because of the energy expended during breastfeeding your child.
And actually, pumping is quite the same!
Did you know that breast milk is made up of natural immunity-boosters and vitamins that are essential for your baby’s growth and development? An adult body doesn’t normally create these (because your body doesn’t need it) so when you breastfeed your child, your body’s working overtime to create extra boosters and vitamins through your breast milk.
In order to understand the differences between breastfeeding and nursing, let’s talk about the basic health benefits of breastfeeding or pumping.
Table Of Contents
How Breastfeeding Burns Calories (and other health benefits)
There is a really strong link between breastfeeding and weight loss.
When you’re pregnant, your body will help you build a “weight reserve” for you and your baby.
After you give birth, your body sheds that excess in many different ways, including breastfeeding.
Watch the short video below to learn a bit more about pumping milk for your little one; everything from introducing bottles to your baby to how to properly store your breastmilk.
Now that we’re a bit more familiar with breastfeeding as a whole – let’s talk about how pumping or breastfeeding affects our bodies!
Typically, an adult needs to consume about 1600-2400 calories in a day (depending on body weight) to maintain themselves.
Because your child is taking some of your calories (and if you’re not eating enough to compensate this), this will inevitably lead to you losing weight.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a breastfeeding woman can burn up to 500 calories a day! 
Another reason for weight loss due to breastfeeding can be the physical toll it takes on your body.
Both breastfeeding and pumping have physical effects on your body, and I’ll explain more about that below!
🍼 Milk Production (Supply and Demand)
Milk production is essentially the same, regardless of if you’re a pumping or nursing mom.
Milk production follows the demand and supply rule – your breasts produce more milk when the baby breastfeeds more (or the more you pump).
This natural kind of loop ensures that the baby has enough milk but that you don’t experience an over-supply of it.
The female body really is incredible, isn’t it!?
🍼 The Natural Hormones of Breastfeeding (and Pumping)
The natural hormones that come from breastfeeding also occur when you’re pumping!
Milk letdown is milk letdown, regardless of how it happens when your body releases breast milk, some wonderful things happen.
We know that breastfeeding is known for soothing an anxious or upset baby, providing them with nourishment and a calm feeling of skin-to-skin.
However, with the flow of the milk also comes prolactin and oxytocin – both of which are beneficial to mom. 
Prolactin is sometimes called the “love hormone”, and in animals, it’s responsible for mothering behavior.
Oxytocin is responsible for the more relaxed (sometimes sleepy and calm) feeling that accompany milk let down.
These benefits occur in both breastfeeding and pumping moms alike.
Does Pumping Burn as Many Calories as Breastfeeding?
Now that we know how breastfeeding burns calories, let’s ask this question…
Does pumping burn as many calories as breastfeeding? The short answer is yes.
A longer answer is that it really depends on how often you’re pumping.
See, pumping mimics the act of a breastfeeding baby.
Pulling milk from your breasts into the bottles attached.
However, if you’re not pumping as much as you would be breastfeeding (if you were) then the calories expended wouldn’t be as much.
The act of pumping breast milk itself produces the same results as if a child were nursing, however, with nursing you’re likely to be doing that more often than pumping, meaning you’d be burning a few more calories.
If you really wanted to know how many calories you were losing due to pumping – try this:
- pump and then bottle feed your baby for a full 24 hours
- make sure you’re pumping regularly during this time, however often you would be breastfeeding.
- keep track of how many ounces you pump in that 24 hour period
- then, multiply the number of ounces you pump by 20 (as I said before, each ounce burns about 20 calories.)
- and this will give you a fairly good estimate of what you burn in 24 hours!
With this, you can get a better idea of how many calories you’re burning each day by simply being the primary source of food for your little one.
It’s incredible, really!
Don’t forget to make up for some of those lost calories with a proper breastfeeding mom diet.
If you’re interested in learning more about keeping a healthy diet as a breastfeeding/pumping new mom, check out the video below!
There are quite a few pros and cons to both breastfeeding and pumping, if you want to read more about that – check out this article!
One of the most important things I’ve learned as a mother is that it’s not one or the other.
For me and my son, it was incredibly difficult to breastfeed, so eventually, we settled on a mixture of formula feeding and breastfeeding.
No matter what, women should choose the feeding strategy (or combination of strategies) that work best for them and their baby.
How many calories does breastfeeding twins burn? Since breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day, if you have twins then you’ll be burning 1000 calories.
Do you burn calories when you pump breast milk? The act of producing milk is how a woman burns calories – this is the same whether you breastfeed or pump! However, where it differs is the amount – for example, nursing on demand mom might lose a few more calories than a pumping on a schedule mom would, because she would be producing and using milk faster.
How many calories do you burn in 30 minutes of breastfeeding? Well, there really is no set formula on how many calories x amount of time pumping or breastfeeding would burn because every mother’s milk supply can vary.
However, I can give you a bit more of an idea: according to this source, it takes about 20 calories to produce 1 ounce of breastmilk.
How many calories are burned while breastfeeding? It really depends on how often you’re breastfeeding or pumping.
There is no set way of knowing just how many calories you’re pumping, but several online sources (see here, and here) say that the average amount of calories a pumping or breastfeeding mother can burn in a day can be anywhere from 300-700.
For instance, on the slowest day, say your child sleeps longer and so you skip a feeding, you may burn closer to 300 calories but if you have a restless night where your child wants to be held and fed more often, you’d likely burn closer to 700.
Can you lose weight by breastfeeding? You can, but there are so many factors that go into losing weight.
Breastfeeding can be a fantastic way to help you feel like you’re making a positive stride in losing weight, but it should be combined with light exercise and a healthy diet (which is good for both you and baby!)
Does nursing/pumping make you tired? A resounding yes! Nursing and pumping can really make you tired – not only are you likely sleep deprived of your cute little bundle of joy being up all night, but it takes work to make milk!
I cannot tell you how many times I have felt dozy and sleepy while breastfeeding my son.
When your body produces milk, it also produces oxytocin – which is considered the “happy, sleepy, calm” hormone.
Do breastfeeding or pumping mothers need extra calories in their diets? This is something that is really easy to gloss over (especially if you’re thinking you want to lose weight) but you do really need extra calories in your diet!
Maintaining a healthy diet and weight isn’t just about shaving off pounds whenever you can, it’s about giving your body what it needs in the right amounts.
And because you’re supporting another human life (often giving away your vitamins and sharing your probiotics through breast milk) you definitely need to make up for that!