Last Updated on June 19, 2023 by Jada Glover
Many moms choose to pump breast milk after having their baby for a variety of reasons. Although it’s not necessary if you’re choosing to nurse at the breast, pumping can be helpful. Moms choose to pump when they’re separated from their baby or need a caretaker to give their baby a bottle.
Giving babies breast milk by pumping is a great alternative to nursing at the breast. The good news is just like breastfeeding, pumping breast milk definitely burns calories. In this post, we will be answering the question:
How many calories does pumping burn?
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Does Pumping Breast Milk Burn Calories?
Pumping breast milk burns calories. As long as your body uses energy to produce breast milk, you are burning calories. So that’s good if your goal is to burn calories.
The amount of calories you are burning does vary depending on how often you are pumping or producing milk in general. If an exclusively pumping mom is pumping milk for one baby feeding session, the number of calories needed and burned will be less than an exclusively pumping mom pumping milk for 8-12 baby feeding sessions.
Now, if you are pumping and nursing at the breast, then you can use all of these combined feeding sessions to estimate how many calories you are using while making milk. You are making milk whether your baby is suckling from the breast, or you’re using a breast pump to remove the milk.
How Many Calories Does Pumping Burn?
Every mom’s body is unique and requires different calories to make milk. Maternal weight, metabolism, and maternal genes can also impact how many calories are burned to produce breast milk.
On average, it is estimated that making milk can burn around 300-500 calories per day,
Let’s break it down a little bit further to better understand how many calories pumping burns. Please keep in mind that these are estimates. Individual calorie expenditure will vary.
As you’ll see with these various breastfeeding frequencies, the number of calories burned during breastfeeding may decrease over time. This is because a baby grows and requires less frequent feeding.
These estimates are also not accounting for breastfeeding/pumping for twins or tandem feeding. In general, the more milk you make for multiple babies, the more your body will produce. With the more milk you produce, there are more calories required to make that milk.
If you are exclusively pumping for your baby, this means your baby is only getting milk from you and not from another source like formula or solid foods. An exclusive pumping schedule equates to approximately 8-12 pumping sessions per day.
This would apply to babies not on solid foods yet and 6 months or younger. In this case, you can expect to burn approximately 500 calories per day.
If you are mostly pumping for your baby, this means your baby is getting most of his or her food from you. But, you may be supplementing with another source like formula or solid foods on occasion during the day.
You would be pumping 6-8 sessions per day in this case. This may apply to babies that are getting a little extra with formula or just starting solid foods (6 months or older). This means you are likely burning approximately 400 calories per day.
If you are partially pumping for your baby, this means your baby is getting most of his or her food from another source, whether that be formula or solid foods. You may be pumping 2-4 times per day for your baby. In this case, you are likely burning approximately 250 calories per day to make milk.
Does Pumping Burn As Many Calories As Breastfeeding?
The evidence on whether pumping burns as many calories as breastfeeding directly at the breast isn’t crystal clear. Some studies suggest there might be a small difference, with direct breastfeeding potentially burning slightly more calories.
This may be because a baby is more efficient at removing milk from a breast than a breast pump. Or, you may use different muscles to nurse at the breast causing more energy expenditure. But hey, don’t sweat it too much because the difference is minimal.
Remember, everyone is unique. Factors like pumping technique, milk supply, and your baby’s feeding patterns can also play a role in calorie expenditure.
Instead of getting too caught up in the calorie-burning aspect, it’s important to focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting the nutrition you need while breastfeeding or pumping.
Remember, the number of calories burned during pumping can vary depending on factors such as the amount of milk removed, the duration of the pumping session, the pumping intensity, and the efficiency of the pump and parts used.
Calories Burned While Pumping Breast Milk Calculator
You can utilize the calorie calculator below to estimate how many calories you need while breastfeeding. This calculator is based on your weight, height, age, activity level, and breastfeeding frequency.
Keep in mind this is based on breastfeeding, not pumping. But, you can use this as a guide since the difference in calories burned is minimal.
Calorie Calculator for Breastfeeding Moms
This calorie calculator is based on the Mifflin-St. Jeor Equation. It takes inputs for weight (in pounds), height (in inches), age, activity level, and breastfeeding frequency. It calculates the basal metabolic rate (BMR) based on the inputs and adds additional calories for breastfeeding.
I’ve used the following formulas for this calculator:
- Exclusively breastfeeding – adds 500 calories per day
- Mostly breastfeeding – adds 400 calories per day
- Partially breastfeeding – adds 250 calories per day
The result is displayed below the calculator as the estimated calories per day. This is to be used as a guide only. If you use it, please keep in mind that it does not guarantee weight loss, weight gain, an adequate milk supply, or sufficient calories while breastfeeding.
For help staying healthy and maintaining your milk supply while pumping or breastfeeding, fill in the form below to get your free breastfeeding foods guide.
What Should I Be Eating While Pumping Breast Milk For My Baby?
Now let’s get into what you should be eating while pumping breast milk for your baby, so you can feel your best. Here’s a list of lactation-friendly foods to include in your diet:
- Fruits: Apples, berries, oranges, bananas, grapes, papaya, apricots
- Vegetables: Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers
- Whole grains: Oats, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta
- Lean proteins: Chicken, turkey, fish, lentils, beans
- Healthy fats/Omega-3s: Avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, salmon
- Dairy or dairy alternatives: Greek yogurt, cheese, almond milk, coconut milk
- Lactation-promoting foods: Oats, fenugreek, fennel, brewer’s yeast
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds
Some snack ideas include:
- hummus with whole grain or gluten-free crackers
- nut butter with apple slices or celery sticks
- grass-fed beef jerky
- yogurt with berries
- homemade trail mix
If you need a milk supply boost, try brewer’s yeast supplements and sprinkle it on smoothies or yogurt. Moringa powder capsules also work well to boost supply. Garlic adds flavor to meals and has milk-boosting properties.
Generally speaking, a balanced diet with a variety of nutritious foods is important for overall health and lactation. I also recommend you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Other drinks that help with breast milk supply include herbal teas, and coconut water. If your urine color is pale yellow, you are likely drinking enough. Coconut water is a great addition to get electrolytes.
Finally, if you’d like a done-for-you meal plan that is ready to implement, be sure to check out my 21-Day Breastfeeding Meal Plan for weight loss.
How To Safely Lose Weight While Pumping & Maintain Milk Supply
As a breastfeeding or pumping mom, your primary focus should be on ensuring you’re getting good nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Do not rely solely on calorie burning as a weight loss strategy.
Losing weight while pumping and maintaining your supply is no easy feat. There are many factors involved such as your weight, age, height, how often you’re breastfeeding/pumping, key nutrients, and more.
And let’s not forget, you want to ensure plenty of milk for your baby. That’s precisely why I put together my Lean Mamas weight loss program. In this program, I share the exact strategies I used as a Lactation Counselor and Health Coach to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.
I did this all while successfully breastfeeding both of my kids and was able to obtain a 50-pound weight loss journey postpartum with each of them.
Inside the program, you’ll find a step-by-step guide that is easy to read and implement. In the program you will ensure you’re balancing your hormones and eating the right foods to maintain an ample supply.
All the while you will be losing weight so you can feel your best postpartum. So, don’t delay! Go check it out and join the other mamas feeling the amazing benefits today.
Pumping breast milk does burn calories – make sure you are eating healthy and enough to maintain your milk supply.
Pumping breast milk can be a great way to provide nourishment for your baby and also burn some extra calories. The exact number of calories burned during a pumping session will vary based on factors such as age, weight, and frequency.
When trying to determine how many calories pumping burns, you can use the calculator above. It will estimate how many calories you are burning each day while pumping or breastfeeding. It’s clear that every little bit of extra calorie burn helps when it comes to staying healthy while taking care of a new baby.