As any breastfeeding mama knows, being away from your kiddo is doubly tough when you’re missing your little one AND need to keep up your breastfeeding schedule to maintain your milk supply (though these lactation cookies can help). Services like Milk Stork or mobile breastfeeding trailers are some ways to make sure your little one gets all of your liquid gold, but if you’re planning a work trip or vacation sans baby, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to keep your leche flowing and bring it all back for your new baby. Here are five tips from one traveling breastfeeding mom to another.
1. Research the airports before you fly. If you’re flying and planning to bring back your breast milk, you’ll be fine in the US, since TSA allows you to bring breast milk and any accessories to cool the milk in your carry-on luggage. You don’t have to adhere to the limited amount of liquids. But if you’re flying internationally, you’ll want to read the airport’s specific regulations ahead of time. You don’t want to end up like this poor mama who had to dump 500 ounces (UGH!) at Heathrow airport because she wasn’t allowed to fly home with her stash. When you’re at the airport, ask if your airline has a nursing room to pump privately.
2. Stock up on supplies. Here are the things I brought with me when I flew to France and planned on pumping while away from my twin girls: Plastic baggies to hold your breastfeeding gear, breast milk storage bags ($9), a cooler tote ($16), a nursing cover, my Medela Pump in Style Advanced ($300), rechargeable batteries, ice packs, quick clean wipes ($9), a manual hand pump ($42) and a hands-free pumping bra.
I’d recommend you test out all of these accessories ahead of time. For an easy and cheap hands-free pumping bra hack, buy an inexpensive sports bra, mark where your nipples are and cut an inch-long hole. You’re done! I suggest you use batteries in the electronic pump — especially if you’re flying abroad — because you don’t want to fry your pump with the different outlets. The hand pump is also great if your batteries die or you need to pump on the plane and don’t have access to an outlet.
3. Call your hotel ahead of time. If you’re only gone for a day or two and your hotel room has a decent refrigerator, you can store your breast milk in the fridge. But if you’re going to be gone longer or you need to transport your breast milk a long distance, call your hotel and find out if you can use the freezer in their kitchen. Most hotels will accommodate your request. If you’re traveling internationally and you don’t speak the language of the country you’re visiting, be sure to make it clear that you want your breast milk stored in the same place as the ice, otherwise it might end up in the refrigerator.
4. Create a stockpile. If you have a few weeks before your travel date, put together a pumping schedule. For example, if your babe eats 24 ounces in a day and you’ll be gone for three days, you’ll want to stockpile 72 ounces of milk in your freezer. Break up the milk into 3- to 4-ounce storage bags, just in case your little one doesn’t finish their meal. For guidelines on storing breast milk in the freezer or fridge, the parenting website Kelly Mom has a simple chart that explains it all.
5. Ice, ice baby. Get comfortable with asking for ice. I decided to bring my frozen breast milk as my carry on. After working so hard to pump about 100 ounces of liquid gold, I was too nervous to put it in my checked baggage. I used my cooler, stuffed it with the frozen breast milk bags and ice packs. While in the airport, I stopped at my airline’s lounge and asked for ice to keep everything cold. During the flight, I used my hand pump and then asked the flight attendants for ice to store my fresh milk in this carry-on cooler ($25). It might be awkward to ask for that much ice, but just mention that you’re trying to keep breast milk cool and most people will be very accommodating.
What are some of your best breastfeeding tips while traveling? Tweet us @BritandCo with your suggestions!
(Photos via Getty)