Travel, Work, and Breastfeeding

Excerpt from iLactate: Back to work phone app

Traveling for work has special challenges when you are breastfeeding.

commercial-airplane-taking-off-and-high-resolution_227318Before Your Trip
You will need to calculate about how much pumped breastmilk you will need to leave with your baby and their care giver.

  • Do this in advance if at all possible.
  • Estimate about 28 oz of pumped breastmilk per 24 hours for each day you will be separated. You will probably want to leave a bit more than this for spills and over feeding.  Maybe an extra 10-20 oz?
  • Multiply 28 oz by the number of days you will be gone and you will get the total amount of pumped breastmilk needed for the duration of your trip.
  • Some mothers ship home their pumped breastmilk every few days if they are going to be gone for more than 2 days. This can lessen your dependency on your freezer supply. Keep in mind that shipping can go wrong! Make good backup plans.

If you feel you don’t have this amount of pumped breastmilk in the freezer and your know you will be traveling in a few weeks you can try and add extra pumping sessions to your day so there will be more pumped milk for the baby. However, keep in mind that by doing this you are raising your milk supply and may need to pump more often while you are gone to keep your body feeling comfortable. You can down grade your supply again but it will take a few days.

P15092772Here is a list of supplies you might need to take to keep your breastmilk and breasts healthy:

  • Batteries and more batteries!
  • Power converter if traveling abroad-   USA power supplies are a different current than the ones in Europe!
  • Breastmilk storage containers
  • Ice packs and coolers
  • Cleaning supplies-  Dish soap, antibacterial wipes, microwavable steam bags
  • All pump parts-  AC adapter, battery pack, car adapter, bottles, pump parts

Call ahead to your destination.

  • You will want to find out in advance where you will be pumping while you are away.
  • If you are going to a conference or in a hotel, they should provide a pumping room for you on site.
  • It you are going to another business, ask their human resource department where you will be pumping. Or you might ask your business colleague (who you are traveling to) by email (which seems less embarrassing than in person) exactly where you will be doing this.
  • You may consider becoming very good at hand expressing or bringing a little hand pump in care something comes up and you don’t have access to your double pump or a good place to pump. It is not ideal at all, but better to go into a bathroom and relieve your breasts by hand expression or hand pumping then putting yourself in a health risk situation.

Make sure you request a hotel room with a refrigerator to store your pumped breastmilk in. Ask if they will freeze your breastmilk for you in their freezer. Most hotels are willing to do this. Ask where you might be able to get dry ice if you will need to ship your breastmilk home. If you are driving, bring a cooler to transport your breastmilk back home with you. Don’t waste any breastmilk if possible!

image2Take the Baby with you?
If your baby is little enough and someone can go with you, you may consider having the care giver travel with you. You will then be able to nurse the baby when needed. Or you could pump your breasts part of the time and breastfeed part of the time if your baby is with you.  Generally, a breast pump is not as good as a baby when it comes to milk removal. Having the baby being able to do at least some of the feeds can be worth the extra expense of the cost of travel for the care giver. If is also nice to be reconnecting with your baby along the way if possible.

Leave the baby home
If you are leaving your baby at home make sure that all of your care givers are very respectful of your pumped breastmilk. You will most likely need every bit.  Keep in mind as well that if you are shy of pumped breastmilk, some formula is better than all formula. It does not need to be all or nothing.

You will need to empty your breasts on a regular basis, usually about 8 times per 24 hours. If you do not do this you put yourself at risk for plugged ducts, mastitis, or a reduced milk supply. This can be awkward, letting your business colleagues know that you will need regular breaks, but it is your legal right and helps protect your health. If you are business like about needing to pump your breastmilk you will most likely be treated in a business like matter. It is the law, after all!

If you are going to be gone for several days, or flying, you may need to ship your breastmilk home. Get a Styrofoam freezer container. Pack it with your frozen breastmilk, dry ice if possible, and tightly fill all the extra space with crumpled newspapers. Ship it overnight and make sure someone will be home to received it. Have them immediately put it in the freezer. You may need to just pump and dump your breastmilk if this is not an option.

Make sure that you have snacks with you and keep yourself hydrated. Traveling can be stressful and these basic self-care needs can be neglected.  Get rest at night but consider setting your alarm for a middle of the night pump if your baby normally is waking to feed at home.  Make sure you leave time in your schedule to do a really good pump before bed and when you wake up in the morning.

Try and be brave. You do not need to apologize to anyone for doing what is best for your baby and for the world!


Flying And Breastfeeding- Listen to our new podcast on flying and breastfeeding!
Keeping your breastmilk moving while on the move!
Sadly, many airports and not breastfeeding or pumping friendly.

  • If you have a short flight, 2 hours or less, consider pumping before you board the plane. The airport should have a place for you to pump. Call ahead to each of your airports and find out where these places are.
  • There are three basic places to pump on a plane, your seat, the work area for stewards, and the bathroom. Ask where would be best when you are boarding the plane.
  • Carry your pump with you!  Do not pack in suitcase!  Suitcases get lost or damaged! Pack your must haves in your carry on. Put only the things you can live without in a checked bag. You may consider locating some places that might have breast pumps parts in the cities that you are traveling to. Being prepared brings peace of mind and makes emergencies less frantic.
  • You may need to pump when you land as well. Be prepared for this and allow yourself extra time whenever possible.

Flying with your breast pump, supplies, and pumped breastmilk requires some thought.

duracell-batteries-photo-co-comparestoreprices-co-ukList of supplies to take:

  • Batteries and more batteries!
  • Power converter-   USA power supplies are different than the ones in Europe!
  • Breastmilk storage containers
  • Ice packs
  • Cleaning supplies-  Dish soap, antibacterial wipes, microwavable steam bags
  • All pump parts-  AC adapter, battery pack, car adapter, bottles, extra pump parts

Dealing with airport security:
Here is the link to  TSA regulations. It is suggested that you print out 2-4 copies of these to have on hand to give out as needed to uninformed airport employees.
You are legally allowed to travel with your breast pump and your pumped milk, whether your baby is with you or not, in the United States.  If you have any trouble from a security guard, ask to speak to their supervisor and/or share one of your copies of the TSA regulations.
Alert security that you are traveling with a breast pump or pumped breast milk.  Don’t let them discover it!  Put the pump and pumped breastmilk into their own bin (so two of them) like you would a laptop. Let them know that this is expressed breastmilk and your breast pump so they are not surprised.
PumpedMilkPumped breastmilk is not subjected to the 3 oz limit.  If security wants to test the breastmilk, ask for a supervisor.  They may test the outside of all bags and containers but they may not ask you to open the container of pumped breastmilk.  Be prepared for testing and pat downs. Ask them to wear gloves so your breastmilk and breast pump are kept clean.

Happy travels!

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