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?
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.
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.