Hi everyone! I'm new here, and I'm editing down this first post because it was originally way too long. My son, who is five months, was introduced to the bottle at the hospital when the doctors strongly suggested I supplement with formula, but I managed to get him exclusively taking breastmilk at 3 weeks old. He has always had a big apetite, though, and so he established a habit of nursing for comfort and demanding a bottle of expressed milk when he was hungry. He also began daycare (4-5 hours a day) at six weeks old, so I have been pumping a great deal for him. Up until about two weeks ago, I used to pump eight ounces of milk in 30 minutes without any effort. Sometimes early on I could get 12 or 16 ounces when I pumped for longer. I have always taken herbal supplements--fenugreek and motherlove more milk blend, though I added blessed thistle a few weeks ago when I started to notice a drop in my supply. My son has always wanted to nurse through the night, and I was co-sleeping until about two months ago, when I started putting him in his crib. Even then, when he would wake up (around 4.30 a.m.), I would nurse off and on until 8:30, when he would drift off again.
OK, so this is starting to get long again. Let me just say that last week I began to notice that I could only pump 7 ounces, even if I tried for an hour. I started to handle it by giving the pumping a break for 10 or 20 minutes; then I could usually get that last ounce I wanted (to make up two 4 oz. bottles). There had been changes in my sleeping schedule to which I attributed to the dip in supply--unfortunately I had been pulling all-nighters for work for six weeks up until that point, and finally getting more sleep actually confused my pumping schedule quite a bit--I even missed a few sessions. So this week I noticed a further--and even more striking--decline in my supply: first, I was only able to get five ounces easily, and now it is 2 or 3 ounces. I have a flexible schedule, so I absolutely force myself to get 8 ounces at least twice a day, even if it takes me several hours each time--I would rather stay up all night working than let my supply get lower than that. I will let one pumping session go at 4 ounces, though I hate to do it. I feel like I am constantly pumping. My son has actually started to nurse more often, as his latch has actually gotten quite strong, so maybe he is getting more when he does nurse. When he is home I nurse on demand, but he never really nurses for very long--maybe five or ten minutes each time. I do find that when I bring him into my bed after he wakes, his diaper has been dry, which never used to happen (after he has been in his crib for about six hours). I also felt a pain quite low in my side a few days ago, which made me think that perhaps I have begun to ovulate again, and perhaps that could be the reason. I haven't had my cycle return yet since he was born; it didn't return for almost a year with my 4-year-old daughter, so this must be normal for me. I breastfed her until she was 2.5 years old, but never exclusively (I was in the hospital for an infection when she was 2 weeks old, and never got her off the formula), so I can't really measure my current experience by my experience with her.
So this is still a bit long, but it is actually shorter than it was. Thanks for reading--any ideas would be welcome!