pumping isn't always easy or necessary
i have pumped a bottle maybe ten times. i just can't do it. i don't know why, but i will sit at a pump for thirty minutes and get maybe two to three ounces if i'm not absolutely engorged. it is much quicker for me to hand-express [and i believe, probably better for the breast, if done properly]. it's really not a big deal. by hand-expressing, i can get the same amount of milk in half the time. if you don't get much milk when you pump, try to get the hang of hand-expressing. it may take a while, but you will get better at it.
what you pump is different than how much baby is getting
above is a good example. most of the time, when i pumped, i would never have a let-down. however, nearly every time river nurses [even when he'd been nursing all day and i thought i was drained] i have a let-down. a baby feeding is much different than a pump. so if you only get a couple ounces when you pump, don't worry! your baby is probably getting a lot more.
if you are sick, you don't have to pump
the FDA even suggests it, but it doesn't make sense. if you are ill, you have already been contagious sometimes days before you start showing symptoms of illness; so if your baby is going to get sick, he's going to get sick. what's most important is that he is receiving milk directly from the breast, to provide the best immunity. plus, whenever you get sick, you are giving those antibodies to your baby, so that he has less of a chance of getting sick. don't bottle feed. if it makes you feel better, kiss less. but it's really not necessary. ;)
it's better to get used to doing it in public
whether you do it with a cover, or choose to go to a more discreet area, breast over bottle is always better. first off, breast milk starts losing some of its nutrients within five minutes of being pumped. second, it’s about freedom, convenience, and support -- in 46 states it is you and your child’s legal right to breastfeed in public. it is very inconvenient to have to go to the car, a different room away from everyone else, or god-forbid a bathroom toilet [disgusting!] to breastfeed your child. and whenever you breastfeed your child in public, you are supporting other women who do so, and helping make it the norm in america, which is what we are desperate for! third, for every meal your baby doesn't get at your breast, you are telling your body they just don't need it right now. every woman's body is different, but some adjust accordingly very quickly, which can cause you to dry up quicker than you may want. and so, also remember...
if you are substituting with formula, you will produce less
if a mother is feeding her baby formula because someone is telling her she is not producing enough milk, her body will continue to produce only what milk the baby is eating, because her body is adapting to what it thinks the baby needs. if you feel you are not producing enough, nurse often. your body will learn. do not substitute. very rarely is it actually necessary to substitute with formula. which leads me to...
don't accidentally wean
i didn't know that at eight months, when i was about to start making solid meals a more regular thing, that i wasn't supposed to substitute a nursing meal. luckily, i had plenty of wise mamas who made me aware of this, and after just a couple meals, was more careful to breastfeed river first, and then offer a solid meal [or vice versa]. remember, as often as you're breastfeeding or skipping meals, your body will learn that's the new norm. so if just in a few days, you go hours between breastfeeding, but give a solid meal to your little one instead, your body will start to produce less milk, because it thinks your child is needing less milk. and it can happen quick, too.
so in short, if you supplement, your body will learn to produce less, and if you feed more, your body will learn to produce more. and always keep in mind that pumping is not the same as breastfeeding, for both your baby and your body. [forgive me if i sound awfully repetitive, but i think this is such an important thing to know, especially if you are feeding on a schedule or are working outside the home!]
how river often asks to nurse:
enjoying [and find humor in] being a breastfeeding mom.