Traveling with a baby can be a logistical nightmare, even if the baby isn’t traveling with you, particularly for women who are breastfeeding. While we have come a long way in terms of the consideration and facilities for nursing moms, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Here’s what you can do in today’s existing conditions:
- Don’t assume that airports will list facilities like lactation rooms on their websites. Inquire at the Information counter as soon as you arrive. For example, the Knoxville, Tennessee, airport has a wonderful lactation room but no mention of it on the airport’s website.
- Wear comfortable clothing that is conducive to nursing or pumping to avoid the hassle of undressing and rearranging your clothes before and after. A nursing tank works best in these situations.
- If there is no lactation room, find a family or changing room or handicapped bathroom which will often offer you more counter space and maybe even a chair.
- If you have a manual pump and a cover-up you can easily get away with perching yourself at a less crowded gate. This is also an option for electrical pumps since most gates are fitted with electrical outlets. Logistically, a double pump might be a bit difficult to handle in this situation.
- Refer to websites like the Nursing Room Locator(US only) and Breastfeeding Anywhere’s Blog which offers a list of global international airports with nursing rooms. Hong Kong, Singapore and Amsterdam set great examples for the rest of the world to follow.
- Read the TSA’S guidelines on traveling with breast milk and The Center for Disease Control’s recommendations for breastfeeding and traveling for policies and best practices for handling breast milk in transit.
- If you are nursing or pumping on a flight, be aware of the optimal times to do so. For instance the best time to nurse a baby is during take-off and landing because it protects their little ears from changes in air pressure. Conversely for pumping, you will not be able to use your electronic pump during those times.
- Do not use water from airport or airplane bathrooms to wash your equipment: buy some bottles or ask the closest coffee shop for some boiling water.
- If you are traveling overseas, make sure you have the right voltage and adapter for your pump.
- Remember that it is your right and responsibility to feed your child. Never let anyone embarrass or make you apologetic for doing one of the most natural things in the world.
Kaamna is the founder of Momaboard.com, an online community for parents traveling with their kids. Momaboard offers international city guides from New York to New Delhi, travel tips, discounts and reviews. Join the FB community of over 2300 fans and follow Momaboard on Twitter @momaboard.