So, you've managed to bring a cute wee person into the world, figured out a few basics, like how to change a diaper, and how to install a car seat, and suddenly, it's time to go back to work. I'm assuming 'You' are American here, since other countries tend to have less crappy maternity leave, but I digress.
If you've been following WHO guidelines, or have just been doing what comes naturally, and breastfeeding your baby, this is probably where you get nervous, and wonder how you're going to feed your kid now. Electric breast pumps have been on the market since the early nineties, and before then, many women hand expressed, or used manual pumps, but the whole prospect sounds rather intimidating, doesn't it? It doesn't have to be. With the right equipment, confidence, and some support, you can keep breastfeeding your baby, even if you can't always be with him.
This instructable is still being edited, so currently, it's published to allow mom-friends (or anyone else who wants rambling advice) access.
Step 1: Don't Pump and Dump
Breast pumps exist so your baby can have your milk even when you're elsewhere, not so you can pour your milk down the sink. It's really common to tell a nursing mother that she should pump her milk and then toss it because she's on medication, or even because she's had a drink, and it's typically bad advice.
If a medical professional ever advises you to do this, or to avoid nursing because of medication you've been given, ask that person to research their information, or look it up/get your friend with the shiny new iPhone to look it up online. Dr Thomas Hale's Medications and Mother's Milk has information on what levels of drugs pass into breast milk; what's safe, and what isn't. His Infant Risk Center has recently started a hotline, at . (806)-352-2519, Monday-Friday 8am-5pm CST. kellymom.com has lists, too. It IS alright to ask to be given an alternative drug if you're worried about how needed medication might affect your child.
Similarly, if you'd like a glass of wine with your dinner, or want to see if your neighbor's homemade beer is as good as he says it is, go ahead and have the drink. Alcohol isn't stored in breast milk, it's metabolized over time, so when you're sober, or very close to sober, your milk is too.
Well-meaning dads and relatives will sometimes suggest you express milk so you can sleep while they give your baby a bottle, or so they can bond with the baby through feeding. Sounds great, but skipping nursing sessions is one of the fastest ways to kill your milk supply. Why not have dad bring the baby to you in bed instead? Never give a baby a bottle when you could give her a boob.