In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness month, I am talking Pumping & Traveling today. I am happy to say that M is almost a year old and we are still going strong and I have left him to go on three different trips for three days and more! I nursed C until she was 16 months old and I went on three trips without her as well.
Being away from your munchkins can be hard and can be challenging when you are a nursing momma who has to pump. I have left both of my munchkins while nursing and was able to pump the whole time and not let my milk supply drop. Doing this can be tricky, but with the right planning, it can be done with very little stress.
Pumping While Traveling
You have to go into it knowing that you will have to take time out of your fun travel plans to pump. Every time I have been away, I have pumped several times per day: at the airport, in between ski runs out in Colorado, when exploring wine country in Napa valley, and while knee deep in learning at a fitness and blogging conference. I was able to keep all of my milk (besides the milk I dumped after wine tasting) and took it home with me on the plane. Follow my tips to make your time away enjoyable without losing your milk supply.
Pumping while traveling can be tough, especially if you are traveling by plane. Luckily every time I have had to pump while traveling I have had a long enough lay over between connecting flights that allowed for me to sneak off into the bathroom and get it done. However, not all airports have Mother & Child restrooms that make pumping convenient (shout out to LAX because they have an awesome Mother & Child room!). There is a good chance you will be stuck pumping in a bathroom stall. This means you will want to make sure you have your battery pack with you.
While you are enjoying your vacation, make sure you are dressed in a manner that makes sneaking off to pump easy. Nothing is worse than having only 15 minute to pump and you spend your first 5 minutes dealing with that super cute blouse that is a pain to get up in order to attach the necessary pumping accessories. Oh and that hands-free pumping bra (or homemade one), don’t forget that.
The first time I ever traveled without C and had to pump I took the little Medela pumping bottles and then transferred all my milk into storage bags. This worked just fine, but when I got to the airport and went through security they had to test every single bag. Think about 4 days of pumping four to five times per day and that is a lot of milk to test and a lot of bags. The bags were also not very easy for the TSA worker to open and close.
After that time I decided to try something else: water bottles. Once all of my milk was cold I would combine it into empty water bottles. This was so much easier. The water bottles fit 16 ounces of milk and it was much easier to pack in a cooler and for the TSA workers to test. In fact, they didn’t even have to do the test strips, they just stuck these in the machine. I highly recommend doing this!
Keeping it Cold
This can be super tricky. The first thing you need to do when booking a trip is to make sure your hotel room has a mini fridge and if not if they could put one in there. Most of the time they have no problem doing this. If you are renting a condo or house you have no problem here.
Keeping the milk cold while you are there is fairly easy, but when you have to hop back on that plane (or in the car) that is where it can get tricky. Make sure you pack a collapsable cooler (or buy one while you are there). Before you hop back on the plane or in the car fill some ziplock bags with ice. Once you get to the airport you will have to dump them to get through security. Then you can find a restaurant and ask the bartender to fill your bags back up. If you tell them you are a nursing Momma they will have no problem doing this.
Next time you head on a trip without your little one gather your breast pump, hands free bra, water bottles, wipes (to clean your parts) and your ziplock bags and make your time away a lot less stressful. And if you have not had to to this yet, pin this post so that you have these tips and tricks for your next trip sans your little one. Oh and if you are worried about that milk supply dropping, drink up… water that is. Making sure you stay hydrated will significantly help while pumping when you are away.
Your turn- tell me!
What tips and tricks do you want to share for pumping while traveling?
Have you ever left your little one while you were still nursing?