Many traveling moms struggle to balance travel during the breastfeeding years. For World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7, 2015), we’ve assembled our network of TravelingMoms to bring you some of the very best tips for travel and breastfeeding success. Whether you’re headed to grandma’s house with a new baby in tow or taking a solo business trip with a breast pump and cooler, we’ve got you covered.
Give That Baby a Boob
August 1 marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness and supporting women who combine breastfeeding and work. As TravelingMoms who travel often for work and for pleasure, both with and without our kids, we know about this juggle all too well. We’ve seen it all when it comes to breastfeeding while traveling: triumphs, challenges, and a hilarious mishap or two!
Sometimes travel during the nursing years is indeed quite funny. Cindy Richards, Empty Nest TravelingMom recalls her favorite travel and breastfeeding moment:
“I was on a plane once when a baby started screaming in pain on descent. We all listened uncomfortably for a little bit and then some woman in the back of the plane yells, ‘Give that baby a bottle!’ and the desperate new mom yells back, ‘She won’t take a bottle!’ Skip a beat and some man yells, ‘Then give her a boob. That baby’s in pain!’ We all cracked up. I don’t know what happened, but I think the baby got a boob because she settled down, we landed and we all went about our business.”
If you are about to be that same new mom on a plane, here are TravelingMom’s very best travel and breastfeeding tips to make your job easier.
General Travel & Breastfeeding Tips
1. Do what’s best for you and your baby! Don’t allow anyone to give you a hard time about feeding your baby where, when, and how you need to.
2. Know your baby. Julie Bigboy, Day Trips TravelingMom says that especially when choosing a location to nurse. “While some babies don’t mind nursing in a noisy location or with mom walking around, other babies can’t settle in until the room is quiet and mom is sitting down.”
3. Pack the right supplies. No matter how you are traveling, a crucial first step is making sure you have the right supplies. That means everything from nursing pillows to pump parts to cleaning supplies. Suzanne Chan, Allergies TravelingMom, recommends that pumping moms not forget a battery pack for electric pumps! Check out TravelingMom’s Ultimate Packing List for Breastfeeding and Pumping so you won’t forget to pack a thing.
4. Ask if there is a special nursing spot. Several airports now offer mother’s rooms or nursing pods to give you extra privacy for breastfeeding or pumping. Ask airport personnel as locations aren’t always obvious or advertised.
5. Make your own special nursing spot. If an airport doesn’t have a mother’s room but you still prefer a little privacy, find an empty gate and set up shop there.
6. Yes, you can take it through airport security. If you are worried about breast milk and TSA, rest assured that you are permitted to travel with pumped milk – frozen or liquid – even if you aren’t with your baby. From the TSA rules (which you may want to print just in case): “travelers flying with or without a child may bring medically necessary liquids, such as formula, breast milk and juice, in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces in their carry-on baggage.” Note that additional screening is sometimes required.
7. Choose the right cooling method. Want to keep pumped milk cold and worried about bringing ice packs through airport security? Try a bag of frozen peas instead. They aren’t classified as liquids and work just as well.
8. Most airlines are working hard these days to support breastfeeding. Breastfeeding on planes seems to give moms the most cause for worry. While there have been a few horror stories in the news about crew shaming breastfeeding moms or telling them to cover up, rest assured that these experiences are few and far between.
9. Consider booking a window seat on your flight for more privacy. It also allows for a little more space to nurse (the curvature of the plane by the window gives you a little more room for baby’s head and feet to stretch out).
10. The best times to breastfeed are on takeoff and landing. As that new mom in the story above shows, sucking helps your little one’s ears adjust to the pressure changes.
11. Be sure to drink enough water when you travel by plane. Air travel is incredibly dehydrating and nursing moms already need additional fluids.
12. If you need to pump on a plane, there aren’t a lot of options. You can pump in your seat with a cover or go to the lavatory. Unfortunately, there are no other private spaces where you can be for an extended period of time. Plan accordingly and pump right before your flight if at all possible.
13. Ask for help. Amanda Williams, Rural TravelingMom, says she has had good luck with getting flight attendants to refrigerate milk for her on the plane while en route.
14. Ask for ice. You can also ask flight attendants for a little ice for your cooler to keep milk cold. In a pinch, remember that expressed breast milk can stay at room temperature for at least 3-4 hours so you can often wait until you land to refrigerate it.
Road Trip Tips
15. Plan breastfeeding stops to coincide with road trip pit stops. Don’t find yourself stuck feeding in the middle of nowhere along the highway when your little ones gets hungry!
16. Consider bringing a pump. If you are planning a road trip with a tight schedule when you can’t make long stops, consider bringing a pump along if your baby will take a bottle of pumped milk. That way, you can pump, feed the baby a bottle while he’s still strapped into a car seat, and keep driving. (Of course, this all hinges on having another adult along to do the driving!)
Tips for Other Kinds of Travel
17. Hotels: If you are staying in a hotel, request a refrigerator if you need somewhere to store milk. Many hotels will waive fridge rental fees if you need it for medical purposes (which usually includes breastfeeding).
18. International Trips: Differing voltages in foreign destinations (even with a converter) can potentially fry your electric breast pump. Be sure you have the right equipment or simply plan to rely on a battery pack instead.
19. Disney: With a Baby Care Center in every Disney Park, both breastfeeding and pumping at Disney is a Traveling Mom’s dream. No destination makes it easier. These centers are equipped with quiet spots to feed your baby and extra baby supplies for anything you might have left behind. (Don’t miss TravelingMom’s 10 other helpful hints for visiting Disney with a baby.)
20. Cruises: If you are planning a cruise getaway without your baby, you’ll need somewhere to store pumped milk if you want to bring it home. While many cruise lines have mini-fridges in the room, these often are not cold enough to safely store milk. Talk to your cabin steward about getting a larger fridge for medical purposes or storing your milk in a central fridge.
21. Camping: Camping is a great kind of travel for breastfeeding moms, says Amanda Jones, Rural TravelingMom and a veteran camper. Bring a manual pump as you won’t have access to electricity in many locations. Consider camping at a resort where you may be able to use a freezer or just bring a great cooler.