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Is there's any specific benefit to nursing instead of just pumping and feeding from the bottle? Is there anything intrinsic in the act of nursing that improves baby's health or increases the nutrition? Does the mechanical act of sucking at the breast perhaps get at more /different/better parts of the breast than a pump and therefore get more diverse milk? Or does that not really make much of a difference? Can baby get the same benefits from pumped milk?

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Nutritionally, there is no difference in the amount of calories or in the breast milk itself.

However, the act of nursing requires a baby to use more muscles than are used in sucking a bottle. This means that babies will only drink as much breast milk as needed; whereas bottle fed babies will develop a habit of overeating.

Additionally, you touched on foremilk/ hindmilk. The first milk during the let down is more liquid and is designed to "quench thirst." The later milk is creamier in texture because of the higher fat content. However, if you give your baby the appropriate amount of milk (2-8 oz depending on age) it doesn't matter that the fore and hind milk is essentially mixed in the bottle.

On a peripheral note: feeding breast milk through a bottle means that the mother must pump regularly to keep up supply. Generally you must pump at the same time as the baby would nurse. You may need to pump longer or more often at the beginning to get used to the pump. Although this doesn't directly affect the question regarding nutritional level, it's important to note that using a bottle to feed breast milk may cause the mother's supply to dry more quickly. Pumping doesn't empty the breast as quickly or as efficiently as a baby (especially once the baby has learned how to nurse). Newborn babies are slow, but once they are a few weeks old, they can nurse in 5-10 minutes what may take 30 minutes to pump.

Personally I nursed my oldest 15 months, and am still nursing my 12 month old. I could not have pumped and given breast milk so long.

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Not to mention the baby gets oxytocin from breast milk which when being fed in close contact with the mother aids in better bonding with the mother. –  kzh Jul 17 '11 at 22:45
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The milk is the same whether fed directly from the breast or from a bottle. As long as you don't store it more than a few hours, there is no difference.

Then it's just a matter of preference for you and the baby. If you feel giving the breast is a more affectionate way of feeding baby and your newborn likes it, it's fine. My daughter couldn't eat from the breast because of the speed and quantity. From the first few days she was fed pumped milk and she refused to take the breast.

The advantage of bottle feeding is that the father can help from the very beginning and, during the following months, baby will not need a period of adaptation from breast to bottle and mother to father.

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Other than maybe a physical bond, touching, there should be no difference as repecmps mentioned. The milk is still the same, and I have seen plenty of mothers, including my wife, store the milk and feed it later. The sucking motion, as long as you use one of those nipple tops that simulate a breast, should be the same - and even with an older style nipple top there should not be much difference.

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