Originally Posted by Keeta
Is pumping something you need to "practice"? Does your body just get it or do you have to prime it, if you know what I mean? Also, I read somewhere that the best time to introduce a bottle was between 4-6 weeks old
It's not so much that you need to "practice" it, but you should be aware that pumping success varies from woman to woman - some moms never have much luck with it, while others can flood those containers to overflowing like you wouldn't believe! And it can take a little while to get the hang of it. Just remember - even the most advanced breastpump on the market is no match for a real baby's suckling, so don't be scared that you "don't have enough milk" if you can't pump much (I get calls like this all the time for LLL - moms try to pump for the first time and see they're only getting an ounce or two and they freak out and think that's all the baby has been getting - not the case!)
That being said, pumping can take a little getting used to, and you need to allow a little time to build up your supply if you plan to pump regularly (like those going back to work). The "practice" part is more just figuring out what works for you. The let-down reflex is emotional as well as physical - for some women who have trouble letting down for the pump, looking at a picture of their baby helps, for some, smelling their baby's scent on a blanket or something does the trick. Some women need to distract themselves by reading a magazine or something while pumping, while others need the exact opposite - total quiet and no distractions. So you kinda need to do some trial and error and figure out what helps you pump better. Also, some pumps have variable settings, and changing the setting to mimic your baby's suck-swallow pattern can help. Sometimes the time of day matters - there are moms who can pump a lot at certain times and not at others.
If you need to pump regularly, like for work, you may want to start pumping earlier, both to store some extra milk and to get your supply up. If it's just an occasional thing, you don't need to worry so much about this. I recommend waiting 6-8 weeks before introducing a bottle, if you can help it (obviously if you have to go back to work sooner, you gotta do what you gotta do). And you want someone else to give the bottles to get him used to it - the baby will often refuse to take a bottle from mom when he can smell you and knows that "the source" is there! It takes patience, some babies will refuse the bottle so you need to work at it - some babies prefer a certain type of nipple or a certain flow speed or even a certain feeding position, so you can experiment with all that.
I can't stress enough, if this is your first baby you should start going to LLL meetings now!!
We encourage moms to start coming by 4 months pregnant, so they can get to know their local Leaders and attend at least one of each of the four monthly meeting topics before the baby comes (and you never know, you might be early!)