During a private scan at nine weeks pregnant, it was quite a shock to Ruth Williams to discover she was expecting twins – there was no history of multiples in either her or her husband’s families!
Lexie and Oscar were born at 37+2 weeks by c-section, weighing 4lb 14oz and 5lb 5oz respectively. Ruth had decided to breastfeed both babies from birth, but little Lexie began to lose weight, and so Ruth was advised to combine feeding her formula, plus breastmilk by expressing. “In the early few weeks, I was breastfeeding my son and then as soon as I finished, I was pumping for my little girl,” says Ruth. “However, it was really hard work doing both so I made the decision to exclusively express for them both. This meant I got to spend quality time with both of my babies rather than someone always feeding Lexie for me whilst I breastfed Oscar.”
However, Ruth then developed Mastitis, and was in so much pain she considered no longer expressing or breastfeeding. Ruth felt lucky to have such a wonderful milk supply, but was in agony unless she pumped constantly to relieve the pressure. “If you find you’ve got a blocked milk duct, deal with it as soon as you can”, advises Ruth. “I found that having a hot bath or shower and hand expression worked the best for me for relieving the block.” Despite the pain she was enduring, Ruth persevered and set herself a daily expressing routine, pumping every three hours.
However, not comfortable expressing away from home, Ruth felt like she was not able to enjoy a life outside of the house with her babies, and so gradually reduced the number of times a day she was pumping. At six months post-partum, Ruth was able to express three times a day, have enough milk to feed both babies, and have some left over to donate and to freeze – she now has over 500 bags of breastmilk in her freezer (and the spare freezer in her garage, and her mother-in-law’s)! Ruth has donated some of her breastmilk via a Facebook group called Human Milk for Human Babies. She had not realised that in order to donate through a milk bank, you must register with them before your baby turns four months old. This is worth noting if you wish and have the ability to donate.
Ruth used the Ardo Calypso Double breastpump from the twins’ birth, which she says she loves, and finds very easy to use. She takes the Ardo Amaryll handpump with her for when she’s out and about. Although Ruth is still expressing, she has been slowly decreasing the amount she produces in preparation for her return to work, and due to lack of freezer space!
Sadly, Ruth had no support for exclusively expressing from any professionals. She found the Facebook group she donates through to be a wonderful help and resource, along with her husband and family – without which she says she would have struggled to continue for as long as she has, with providing her babies with her breastmilk.
Ruth has been through quite a journey, and has some top tips of her own for mums-to-be and those mums finding things a bit tricky. “Don’t put yourself under too much pressure; it does hinder your milk supply. Drink plenty and make sure you have some nice snacks to keep you going. If you are struggling with milk supply, malt-based drinks and lots of oats help.”
At Ardo we know how it is to be a new mum, and the feelings, pressures and difficulties motherhood can bring. Our team is here to support all new mums with their expressing questions, available online and in person, so please reach out to us – we’ve heard all the questions over the years, and are here to help!