Breastfeeding while traveling can be tricky, but it's totally do-able. Millions of women do it, and you can too. I went back to work when my son was 5 months old and breast fed/pumped until he was about a year old. So when I was on the road or plane traveling, I had to prepare for pumping and bringing my milk home for Max safely. Here are my tips:
1) If flying, always carry your breast pump on the plane. I'd recommend getting a bag that can double as a work/laptop bag + breast pump and cooler bag.
I splurged on a Lo and Sons 'OG' bag so I could carry my laptop and breast pump on the plane with me, along with my carry on suitcase. Especially since most of my trips are only one night trips, it's important to me to be able to have only 2 bags to carry on the plane, so I don't have to check a bag.
2) If you have a long flight, you'll have to be prepared to pump in the airplane bathroom. It's not luxurious, but it can be done!
Few tips for pumping on a plane:
- Let a flight attendant know what you are doing, so if someone complains that someone's been in the bathroom for a long time, they know why. I've always had a positive experience once I give the flight attendant a heads up, and usually they offered me extra water and snacks :)
- Buy a mini cooler to keep in your carry on bag. This Munchkin cooler fits perfectly in the Lo and Sons 'OG' bag, alongside my pump, laptop and a notebook. It's very slim but can fit several full milk bags in it. You can also pack a separate one to pack in your luggage for transporting milk home. It comes with an ice pack you can freeze and bring along for your trips.
- Buy milk bags so you can store the milk efficiently in the mini cooler. You can also fill a bag or two with ice and use them to keep milk cold on the go. I liked the Medela milk bags and Lasinoh bags. I never had trouble with either of them leaking.
3) Ask your hotel if there will be a refrigerator in your room. If there won't be, request one immediately.
Sometimes hotels only have a few refrigerators on hand. If you explain why you need one, they should prioritize your request.
4) Pack items to make cleaning on the go easy.
- Medela breast pump wipes - I love these for cleaning breast pump parts, bathroom counter tops, etc.
- Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam bags - These handy bags disinfect your breast pump parts in 3 minutes. All you need is a microwave (which most hotels should have in rooms, cafe or lounge).
- Travel size dish soap to do a deep clean once you get to the hotel.
5) Bring extra power cords, batteries and pump parts.
Pumping while traveling is hard work, but again, you can totally do it and bring all of your milk home safely. You can read up on TSA's policy on traveling with breast milk here. If you have tips to share, please post them in comments!
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