Breastfeeding, Pumping and Traveling – Tips to Make it Easier January 29, 2017 12:54 2 Comments
Breastfeeding, Pumping and Traveling – Tips to Make it easier
It’s hard enough for breastfeeding moms to be away from their babies. Add in the stress of pumping while traveling, and it’s all rather daunting. But with a bit of planning and shared knowledge from moms who have “been there, done that,” I hope this experience can seem manageable.
I traveled for business a lot, both within the U.S. and internationally, while I was breastfeeding my girls. For example, on a seven day trip, I was able to bring back 180 ounces of refrigerated breast milk for my younger daughter. We did not lose any milk and I was able to keep my supply up. Here are my tips that will hopefully help you on your journey as well.
First up: What are you going to do with all that breast milk?
If you’re on a short trip, about one to four days, it is easier to pump and keep the milk with you, unfrozen. You’ll be bringing it back home, cold, using a good cooler and ice packs. It’s very important to mark the amount you’ve pumped, and the date, on each container.
Once you’re back home, use it fresh or freeze the milk for future use. A refresher: breast milk is safe for four hours outside, four to seven days in the fridge and four months in the freezer. The La Leche League (LLL) has more specs on temperatures and guidelines here. You could also ship your milk back, via a carrier such as Fed/Ex. This may prove more expensive and difficult than simply carrying it back, but it’s an option.
As a last resort, you could freeze the milk and ship it back using dry ice. If you’re going this route, be sure to investigate where to buy the ice and the regulations for the country you’ll be in.
I prefer to ship the milk refrigerated in a very good cooler.
What to Pack:
- Your portable breast pump, with battery pack and AC adaptor
- If you’ll be somewhere it may be hard to get extra batteries, pack some
- Hands free bra for pumping - Simple Wishes
- A cooler, with the size based on the number of days you’ll be traveling
- A set of extra parts
- At least four bottles (I always brought six)
- Organic cloths or wipes
- Nursing cover for privacy
- Organic dishwashing soap in a small, leak-proof container.
For the Airport:
- Have a printed copy of the TSA's rules on traveling with breast milk, found at https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children
Hopefully you won’t have problems, but you never know.
- Your breast pump is considered a personal item and can be carried on like a laptop or a purse on the majority of airlines.
- Keep your breast milk separate from your other liquids and inform the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that you carry breast milk, and in excess of 3.4 ounces, in your carry-on bag. You won’t need the milk in 3-ounce containers like your other liquids; it can be in the storage bags or bottles.
- Don’t worry; an Xray machine will have no harmful effect on your breastmilk.
On an Airplane:
- If you plan to pump during your flight, book a window seat.
- Use the nursing cover for privacy if you prefer.
- Some moms who prefer additional privacy pump in the bathroom, but it could very uncomfortable and not very pleasant, not to mention unsafe if there is unexpected turbulence.
- Never clean your pumping equipment or bottles using the airplane sink’s water since it could be unsafe. Request bottled water if you need to clean your equipment.
- Ask the flight attendant for ice if you need some for your cooler.
At a Hotel:
- Call ahead to your hotel to have them put a refrigerator in your room.
- Speak with the room service to make sure that they do not unplug the refrigerator.
Visiting a Company, Vendor or Tradeshow:
- Check in advance to find out if there will be a mother’s room or a lactation room at the location. If not, request another quiet and secure spot where you can be accommodated.
For International Trips:
- Check the plug type and voltage for the country that you are visiting. You may need an electrical current adapter.
With a bit of planning and determination, you’ll be able to keep up your milk supply, continue to nourish your baby, and still travel wherever you need to. Good luck, Mom, and let me know how it goes!