I am going to provide some detailed history and I hope you can give me insight into (a) how to get back to this level of production, or (b) thoughts why I might have had this sudden drop.
My 5 month old has been on breast milk exclusively since day 1. I went back to work about 2 months ago when she was 3 months old, and we quickly got into a great pumping/ bottle feeding schedule. Since going to work, I have been pumping (like clockwork, basically) at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and have been able to get about 5-6 oz total at each pumping session. Then, I wake up at 1 a.m. and pump one more time, and get between 5 and 7 oz.
This 15-18 oz total pumped per day has allowed me to provide Fiona breast milk for day care for the next day, so each day she is drinking fresh milk pumped from the previous day. I have not frozen anything and have no "stash" stored up. Whatever extra I pump she eats on the weekend when dad wants to have baby feeding time, or we throw it out (or lately, we mix it with pureed sweet potatoes, squash, other fresh veggies we get from a local farmer to freeze into cubes for her future solid eats- but she hasn't started the solids yet, we're waiting until 6 months).
Fiona's feeding schedule has been as follows from for the past 2 months:
6:30 a.m.- she eats with me on the breast
9:30-10 a.m.- she eats 5 oz BM at day care
12:30-1:30 p.m.- 5 oz BM at day care
4 p.m.ish- 5 oz BM at day care
6:30-7 p.m.- on the breast,
8-9:30ish- on and off the breast until asleep, then down into the crib for the night (and she sleeps through night all the way up to 6:30 a.m. when I wake her. Lucky, well rested me!)
So we have had this fabulous, steady routine. Now, suddenly just this past weekend, I have started having sore nipples and lower production. At my day time pumping sessions, instead of getting 6 oz I'm getting 4-5. At my 1 a.m. pumping session, instead of the normal 6 or 7 oz, I'm getting 4. When I wake up in the morning at 6 a.m. instead of feeling uncomfortably full breasts, they just feel moderately firm but not even close to leaking or uncomfortable, as they used to be.
This has been going on for about 5 days now. Much to my chagrin, despite pounding down tons of water, eating oatmeal every day for breakfast and lunch, and adding a 4rth pumping session around 11 p.m., I have not increased my total pumped yield. Instead of the total 15-19 oz, I'm not getting about 14 oz a day total, which is close to what she needs, but still an ounce short (plus I think she's getting less at the breast, too).
Also, Fiona has started doing this thing while nursing lately where, when she gets bored or distracted, she starts playing with the nipple in her mouth and she chomps her gums down together hard on it. It really hurts like crazy. She doesn't have any teeth yet and when I feel around in her mouth, I don't feel like any are on the verge of coming through. She does it the most in the evening. I have responded by startling her, telling her no, and pulling her off the breast for about 5-10 minutes before resuming; but she doesn't seem to care. This is a recent development too. I don't know if the yield issue is related or not.
Any thoughts? Advice? Suggestions? Can my production just decide to tune itself down against my will like this and resist my efforts to tune it back up?