Hi, ladies. After lurking for some time, I'm throwing a veritable novel of a post at you. Hopefully someone can help!
My 10 month old takes three 5 oz bottles of breast milk on weekdays in addition to nursing once in the morning, once before bed, and once overnight. We also exclusively nurse on the weekends. I LOVE our time together and for this reason (and, you know, the usual lasting benefits of breast milk) very much want to continue nursing at least past 12 months.
But here's my challenge: a couple weeks ago, my pumping output started dropping significantly, and I'm now yielding only 10 of the 15 oz my baby boy needs for daycare each day. My freezer stash, never all that large, has dwindled down to just 8 oz, so I need to figure out next steps pretty quickly.
I work from home and have a luxurious amount of privacy to implement extreme pumping schedules. In a last ditch effort to bump up supply, I currently pump every 1-1.5 hours for 20-30 minutes during the day, typically yielding 7-10 oz total. One or two extra pumping sessions in the evenings after LO has gone to bed will usually bump me up to 10 oz if I haven't gotten there during the day... which is still 5 oz short of where I need to be.
I haven't had a period yet and don't feel any indication that there's one on the way. Work-related stress could certainly be inhibiting prolactin levels, though I hadn't thought periods of high stress could have a lasting impact on supply. I have PCOS, but I'm not overweight and haven't ever had notable issues with insulin resistance, which I know can impact prolactin levels as well. So I'm not sure what could be causing my supply to drop.
I do think my supply is dropping rather than just seeing a decrease in pumping output: my little guy has started lingering on the breast longer and sleeping less soundly at night (though he still only fully wakes for one feeding around 1 am). He's not lacking for wet diapers yet, at least.
I've tried all sorts of tricks to up my output. Oatmeal, water, brewer's yeast, flax seed; More Milk Plus, Mother's Milk tea, fenugreek and blessed thistle capsules; power pumping, more frequent pumping, pumping longer, pumping right after the baby nurses on the weekend, nursing on demand; Pavlovian letdown triggers (though the deep breathing exercises were relaxing, at least), watching home video clips or pics of my baby while pumping... None of it's having any effect anymore.
So, ladies, any suggestions? Anyone gone through something similar? Is it time to admit partial defeat and supplement with toddler formula? (And how does one figure out the correct number of ounces to supplement, anyway?) Is there some secret means of increasing supply that I haven't yet tried?
(P.S. Domperidone is conspicuously absent from this post. Ignoring the challenge of obtaining any from a trustworthy source here in the US, I'm not totally sure the risks -- not yet well studied -- are worth the benefits of 5 more ounces of breast milk per day, especially this late in the game. But your thoughts on the topic are welcome.)