I am still pumping. I only pump now after dinner, and for most of the last two months that's meant pumping every hour on the hour for 4 hours, for 15-20 minutes at a time. Its not awful but somewhat limiting and I know H is a bit sick of seeing my boobs get pummelled all evening. By pumping this long each evening I was able to get about 150mls or so (5oz) which saw me through most of the supplementing I was still doing, but meant that I didn't have enough for a full bottle for the feeds I was skipping when I started doing work stuff.
Then one evening over the Christmas break I had a bath before dinner. And I went downstairs and pumped, and the milk came pouring out, close to 150mls just in one 20 minute pump. I thought it was a fluke, and so didn't repeat the experiment. Until one day last week, when I was so cold that H suggested warming up the bean-filled hot bags we have to warm me up. Because I was about to pump I stuck them on my boobs. And the milk came pouring out again.
Since then, I put the hot bags on every time I pump. I'm pumping twice an evening, for 15 minutes each time, and getting between 200 and 250mls between those two sessions. It's a lot less invasive of our evenings, and it's enough to feel like I can give him a good chunk of breastmilk even when I drop more feeds when I go back to work full time at the end of the month. But it's an incredibly frustrating discovery. While it's still true that I don't have an abundant supply, to see this amount of milk coming out makes me wonder what I could have achieved if I'd been using this trick all along.
I had a couple of months where I was pumping after every feed, yet only getting an oz at a time because Junior had got good at hoovering it up, while still taking a reasonable amount in the SNS. If I'd known about the heat trick how much difference might that have made? I could have perhaps avoided the month of needing to use formula in the evenings during his sixth month. And if I'd used hot pads on the boobs while feeding, would that have made a difference?
So, good news, but frustrating news. I offer it here for those who come after.
If you are suffering from low supply, and/or if you are pumping breast milk for whatever reason, try the hot pads. It's not just hearsay, for me it worked wonders.