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I am a new mother, and approaching 4 weeks of breastfeeding my newborn. I am going back to work in 2 weeks and I plan to pump my milk while I am away. My problem is when I pump milk, the let down is not really strong, and it causes the milk to leak on the side of cones making it harder to collect milk. Is this because my body is still establishing milk?

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    @user1751825: I don't think there is any firm limit on when returning to work is "too soon". Depends on many factors, so I don't think posting a hard limit like this is helpful. – sleske Apr 18 '16 at 7:27
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    @user1751825 If 6 weeks is the point at which one must whether to keep the job and the parent needs the job, it's the right time to return to work. Not all companies/countries have generous parental leave policies. – Acire Apr 18 '16 at 11:24
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    If milk is leaking and not flowing into the bottle, you may not have the correct size flanges (that's what the cones are called). This has good pictures showing what you're going for: ameda.com/breast-pumping/getting-started/flange-fit You may also want a hands-free bra to help keep them in place. – naomisl Apr 18 '16 at 21:29
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    In the US, most women can get six weeks disability and return to their job. Beyond that, they can take up to 120 days unpaid leave if their employer is not a small company. Six weeks may not be enough, but many familys can't afford any more. dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/1421.htm – Marc Sep 27 '16 at 4:14
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Even with months of practice and well established milk supply, pumping will take longer and produce less milk than a nursing baby. Even the best designed breast pump is still only almost like a baby's latch and sucking motion.

Things that always helped me with letdown were relaxing (I was at work, so it took some conscious effort to breath deeply and not be stressed!) and thinking about my baby and about nursing. It felt really cheesy to me, needing to think of my son's face in order for milk to flow better -- and maybe it was just an additional relaxation method, not a separate factor -- but oddly enough, it worked.

Practice is also something that makes pumping easier. You get more experience in putting the pump together and (more importantly) you learn what position, techniques, and speed work with your breasts and milk flow. Nothing is more frustrating than being at work and trying to get the stupid pump working the first time... and frustration is excellent at decreasing milk flow, so it's just a cycle of diminishing returns.

But once you're a couple months into a pumping routine, you will likely have a significant milk supply (between breastfeeding and pumping) and it will all be much easier.

So, in short: You can, and should, pump now. It won't necessarily be extremely productive yet, but it is good practice for when you need to pump, and helps to increase your milk supply.

  • Not cheesy at all. I thought it was very helpful. – anongoodnurse Apr 15 '16 at 14:29
  • I guess to avoid the mastitis issue or milk clogging, I would pump first and then massage. I may do that on the rest of the days of my remaining leave. I will be back at work after 2 weeks. Thanks so much! – Marj Apr 15 '16 at 18:47
  • Not cheesy at all, I did the same. Some people also use playback of their baby babbeling, or bring an item or clothing that smells like the baby. – Ida Apr 18 '16 at 23:45
  • It felt cheesy to me at the time. It's nice to know I'm not alone :) – Acire Apr 18 '16 at 23:59
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Make sure the flanges (cones) are the right size for your nipples. Every brand has multiple sizes. Also, a hands free bra is necessary. These can be bought new, at resale shops, or on ebay if cost is a factor. I appreciate that you have to go back to work already, as I did. Financially, I had to go back, since this country does not support working mothers/families as it should.

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