It's common knowledge that breast milk has numerous benefits for babies, and lactating, whether you nurse or pump, is great for mom's bodies as well. But many moms wonder if the way they feed their baby will impact their body in the long run. It's no secret that pregnancy and the postpartum period will bring permanent changes to a mom's body, but for moms who choose to use a breast pump to express their milk, wondering how pumping affects your body later in life is a very valid question to ask.
Like all aspects of motherhood, each mom experiences things differently, and that will hold true to pumping too. More often than not, breast size is the most common way that pumping and breastfeeding will change your body. According to Web MD, some women notice that once they've stopped lactating, their breasts return to their pre-pregnancy size. However, for some women, their breasts will stay larger than they were before pregnancy.
The article also noted that producing breast milk stretches your breast skin and can cause your breasts to sag later on in life, however this is greatly dependent upon genetics and body type.
The changes, however, don't stop at the shape and size of your breast. Using a breast pump greatly changes your nipples, since the suction on a breast pump can feel even stronger than when your baby sucks to nurse. But even you may experience a bit of pulling and your nipples may get bigger while you pump, the long lasting changes are different from woman to woman and will be very similar to an exclusively nursing woman, according to Exclusive Pumping
Pumping should never cause permanent damage to your nipples (or other parts of your breast, for that matter,) and if you're experiencing pain while you pump, Exclusive Pumping suggested that you may want to change your breast pump flange size, try a lower setting, or check your breasts for other issues like engorgement, thrush, or infection.
Aside from the physical changes to your breasts that may (or may not) occur, it's worth pointing out the positive, long lasting, changes that lactating women receive. According to La Leche League International (LLLI,) moms who lactate are at a decreased risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer, and diabetes later in life. Mother's also reap psychological benefits as well and an increased overall health, according to the Mayo Clinic.
So although you may dread the downsides (like changes to your breasts or nipples,) lactating and even using a breast pump can have lots of long term benefits for your body.