A mother’s life changes in so many ways with the arrival of her little bundle of joy. No joy can be compared with having a baby, but for many mothers, this might mean letting go of many things she used to do or enjoy. However, this should never be the case! Working, traveling — or both can still be done by mothers even when they are breastfeeding.
It will not be easy, but it is certainly doable. To help you out, here are some tips for traveling while breastfeeding.
Traveling with your baby
Breastfeeding is probably the most convenient way of giving your child’s needs while you are on the go. If you are breastfeeding, your body is all that you need to nourish your child. You would not have to worry about bringing a large bag of feeding equipment and means of sterilizing them. Your milk has also just the right composition and temperature to meet the needs of your little one.
Nothing beats a well-prepared mom when traveling with her baby. If you are traveling with a baby for the first time, this is especially important. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind:
1. Know your rights. Know the laws that protect your right as a breastfeeding mom. If you are traveling within the country, know that breastfeeding is allowed in all States. Also, know about your laws and rights to breastfeed if you are traveling overseas.
2. Know the culture. What is legal may not be what is acceptable in other cultures. This is a sign of respect to the culture you are visiting, and not at all to shame breastfeeding in public. Do research about how a culture perceives breastfeeding in public in order not to gain unnecessary attention.
3. Make the necessary arrangements for your accommodation. You may still have to pump milk even if you are traveling with your child. Contact your accommodation ahead of time to make sure that they have what you need to keep your milk cool like a refrigerator or a mini fridge.
4. Prepare necessary supplies. Make a list of the essentials when traveling with your little one. For your carry-on baggage, this may include extra clothes for you and your little one, breast pump, a replacement for pump parts, milk storage bags or bottles, cleaning paraphernalia, a small cooler, sanitizer, and wipes.
5. Wear multiple layers. Wearing multiple layers of clothing will help you stay comfortable when breastfeeding in public. You can wear a shirt over your nursing tank to keep yourself covered. Nursing in layers also helps you cope with changing temperatures.
6. Stay healthy. In order to keep your milk supply up, you have to stay hydrated, eat healthily, and rest well.
Flying while breastfeeding
The good news for breastfeeding moms is that more and more airports and airlines are becoming more supportive of breastfeeding. However, there are still situations that make flying with their little ones more challenging. Here are some tips to help you out:
7. Research about the airport. Again, nothing beats being prepared. Research beforehand if there are private spaces, such as lactation rooms, provided for breastfeeding mothers at the airport.
8. Research about the airline. Read about airline breastfeeding policies and contact your airline ahead to make sure if they can provide some of the things you might need, such as pillows, blankets, and ice. Most cabin crews staff would be really glad to provide assistance.
9. Look for a quiet, private space. If there are no lactation rooms or pods provided in the airport, look for a relatively quiet space where you and your little one would not be disturbed if you have to feed.
10. Nurse on demand. There is no better way to feed your little one than to nurse on demand. As much as possible, do this to keep your milk supply up, and to nourish and comfort your little one.
11. Bring pumped milk just in case. With the busy environment in an airport, it is not unlikely that you would not be able to breastfeed on demand all the time. For this, it is good to be prepared and to bring an extra bottle of pumped milk.
12. Choose a window seat. Unfortunately, aircraft cannot provide a private space for breastfeeding moms. Some mothers prefer the aisle seat, but if it is your first time, it is highly recommended to choose a window seat. This provides your little one a little extra room for their head and for their feed. The window seat is also less busy compared to the aisle seat, and you would not have to risk having hot drinks or food being passed over them.
13. Arrive early. You will always need extra time especially if you are traveling with your little one. This does not only reduce the potential stress but also gives you and your little one extra time to feed before you go through the gate.
14. Declare to the TSA if you are bringing breast milk and pump with you. Breast milk is considered medication, which means you can bring more than 3 ounces of it at a reasonable amount. Just tell the airport security that you have breast milk and pump with you and keep them apart from other belongings as they do the x-ray scanning. They are allowed to do extra screening for security reasons, but know your rights as well and ask for their supervisor if you think they are breaching the guidelines.
15. Know what you can bring with you as carry-on. Again, there is no upper limit to the amount of breast milk you can bring with you, but the TSA recommends that you bring just enough to last the duration of the flight. You can also bring with you other feeding paraphernalia as carry-on, such as breast pumps, baby food, ice pack or gel, and cooler.
16. Feed during takeoff and landing. Your little one also experiences ear pressure so it is highly recommended to nurse during takeoff and landing. The sucking and swallowing motions help ease the pressure.
17. Inform people around you that you would be nursing or pumping. While it is not wrong to breastfeed or pump, it is polite to inform your seatmate that you would be doing so. Most of the time, they would be supportive, but there are times that they may not be comfortable. You may have to use a nursing cover or you may have to ask the flight attendant to be reseated.
18. Make sure you have what you need. Some of the things you might need for a flight are: nursing pillows or neck pillow; a cover-up or a shawl; a sturdy cooler with ice gel or packs; milk storage bags or bottles; breast pump; extra replacement parts for the breast pump; lanolin; sealable bags; sanitizers; wipes; and extra clothes for you and the little one.
19. Do not wash feeding equipment at the airplane’s restroom. Water in an aircraft’s restroom is not sterilized and may contain microbes. You may instead ask for bottled water. Better yet, temporarily store your used equipment inside a sealable bag and store it in your cooler until you get to your accommodation.
20. Be sure you have the right equipment. Especially if you are traveling to another country, you have to make sure that your electric pump has the right voltage or plug. Otherwise, you may have to purchase the right adapter.
21. Keep yourself healthy and stress-free. Drink a lot of fluids and rest whenever your little one naps. You have to keep yourself healthy in order to maintain your milk supply.
Road trips while breastfeeding
22. Nurse on demand. Again, breastfeeding on demand is the best for you and the little one, especially if your baby is less than six months of age.
23. Allot extra time for breaks. For both you and your baby’s comfort and safety, allot frequent stops for feeding and diaper change. Also do a research beforehand to know where you can stop and rest along the road.
24. Bring a lot of water and healthy snacks. Healthy food and water are important to keep your milk supply up and to keep up with the calories that you’re burning while breastfeeding.
25. Dress comfortably. Wear clothing that will make it easy for you to feed your little one. Also, bring a nursing cover or shawl that you are comfortable using.
26. Bring a cooler with ice packs. If you will be pumping, you would need a place where you can store extra milk. Be sure to properly label the time and date. Also, contact your accommodation for a fridge or mini fridge to keep your milk cool.
Traveling without your baby
There may be times that you have to travel without your baby, whether for a vacation or official business. Some mothers have difficulty going back to their regular feeding routines after a long trip away from their little ones, causing them to wean prematurely. However, this should not be the case. If you keep your milk supply up while on the go, you do not have to fear traveling without your baby. Many mothers have done it and so you can do it, too!
A number of things have to be kept in mind if you are thinking about traveling without your baby. It is therefore important that you plan your trips long before the actual trip. Here are some of the things you should remember:
27. Pump a little extra weeks before your travel. You would want your little one to continue drinking breast milk even if you are not around. In that case, you would have to start pumping a little extra milk weeks before your travel in order to increase the demand for your milk. Count the number of days and feedings you won’t be around to know the amount of milk you should make. Also, add 20% of that amount in case of spills.
28. Consume galactagogues. To help increase your milk supply, consume galactagogues. Some mothers find fenugreek supplements to be helpful. You can also consume other galactagogues such as green papaya, spinach, and oatmeal.
29. Help your little one get used to bottle-feeding or cup feeding. If your little has never tried feeding from a bottle or cup before, it is a great idea to practice. Also, choose a bottle nipple that most resembles a mother’s nipple in order to avoid nipple confusion.
30. Have a dry run. If you can, take a day away from your little one and have a trusted adult care for and feed your little one. This is a good way to know if your baby would do well if you are not around. If not, you would still have time to make the necessary adjustments.
31. Make the necessary arrangements. You would still have to pump if you are away from your little one. If you will be going on a business trip, it is best to inform your employer or client that you are a breastfeeding mother and that you would have to be regularly excused to pump. You can also ask for an accommodation with the fridge or mini fridge.
Pumping while traveling
You still have to regularly pump even if your baby is not with you in order to maintain your milk supply. Here are some tips to help you:
32. Choose the right equipment. Weigh your options between a manual pump or an electric pump, as each has their pros and cons. You also would need extra replacement parts just in case.
33. Prepare necessities. Do not forget to bring your pump, replacement parts, batteries or adapter, milk collection bags or bottles, cooler, and ice bag or gel. A nursing cover would also help loads for your comfort.
34. Pump at regular intervals. Pump milk at your baby’s regular feeding times to maintain your milk supply and to avoid engorgement.
35. Induce your let-down reflex. It is more challenging to pump if your little one is not around. To help you out, bring an article of clothing that reminds you of your baby’s scent. You can also look at a photograph of your little one as you pump.
36. Do not wash the equipment on the airplane. Again, avoid cleaning your equipment in an aircraft’s restroom to avoid contamination. You can opt to first put your used equipment inside a sealable bag and keep it inside your cooler.
37. Enlist the help of airline personnel. Cabin crew staff would be happy to assist you during your flight. Do not hesitate to ask for help if you need some.
Storing breast milk
You know how precious each drop of breast milk is and so it is of utmost importance that they do not get spoiled. This can be done with proper storage. Here are some tips:
38. Put milk in sealable bags or bottles. Make sure that the milk containers you use are clean and free from contaminants.
39. Keep your milk cool or frozen. Cooled or frozen milk lasts longer than breast milk kept at room temperature. It is important that you have a mini fridge or refrigerator inside your hotel room.
40. Label your milk. Keep a marker with you and label the time and date you have pumped a bag of milk. This will also help you keep track of your pumping schedule.
41. Use a cooler when traveling with pumped milk. If you have not yet arrived at your accommodation, keep a small cooler with you to keep prolong the shelf life of your milk.
42. Know the storage life of breast milk. If you are traveling, it is better to keep your milk cooled rather than frozen because once thawed, frozen milk will have to be consumed within 1-2 hours and it cannot be re-frozen. Milk kept in a cooler can be consumed within 24 hours, while refrigerated milk can be kept for 5 days. Frozen milk can be kept for 6 months.
If you would be gone for an extended period of time, consider having your breast milk shipped to your little one. Just be sure that you plan ahead so that your milk arrives on time to nourish your little one. Here are some things you need to remember if you are thinking about this:
43. Prepare what you need. For packaging and shipping, what you need are a sturdy styrofoam cooler, dry ice, sealable storage bags, packing paper, shipping tape, and shipping labels.
44. Package your milk carefully. Put your milk inside sealable bags and make sure there is no leakage. Next, layer the base and the sides of the cooler with dry ice. Place the bags of milk on top of the ice and add more ice on top of them. Also, fill the spaces with newspaper to protect and insulate the bags. Place the cooler inside the shipping box and once again fill the gaps with newspapers. Finally, carefully tape and properly label the package.
45. Be careful with dry ice. Consider using gloves to avoid ice burns.
A mother’s life definitely changes when a baby arrives. While there is so much joy in being a mother, many moms become hesitant about returning to their old routines as most of their attention is demanded by their mommy duties. With these travel breastfeeding tips, we can conclude that a mother’s life does not have to come to a complete halt in order to meet the needs of her little one!