After the book tour, I’ve been thinking a LOT about the trials of traveling with children. If you are nursing, it probably seems pretty daunting to think of leaving home (with our without your little one). Fear not! I’ve asked Margarita Marasigan, RN, CCE (find her on Facebook or Twitter), the MomPrep expert that I go to when I have questions about nursing, to give us her expert advice on the topic.
A Guest Post: Traveling Tips for a Breastfeeding Mom
As the holiday season approaches and you travel with your baby to be with loved ones, here are 8 helpful tips to make breastfeeding while traveling a smooth ride.
1. Wear comfortable, breastfeeding friendly clothing and have a cover up handy. Layers are key – nursing tanks and cardigans wear and pack easily.
2. Bring along your breastpump. Car chargers, pumps that run on batteries and readily available electric sockets at hotels, airports and family lounges allow you to use your electric breastpump when you cannot nurse your baby. Also consider having a manual breastpump with you for those times when you cannot find a power
source. They can be a quick, silent solution to relieve your filling breasts.
3. Have on the go cleaning supplies ready. Airplane tap water is not safe for drinking or cleaning your pump parts & baby’s bottles. If you are traveling by car, you may not be able to clean your pump parts right away. Two of my favorite on the go products are from Medela: Quick Clean Wipes are a convenient way to clean your
pump parts without soap and water. Microsteam Bags sanitize them in minutes in the microwave and provide storage between pumping sessions.
4. Make sure that you can store your breastmilk properly. You want to use containers that are sterile and airtight. It’s best to store in 2-4 oz portions. This wastes less milk and helps to avoid over feeding. Use the handy 6-6-6 rule to know how long you can keep pumped breastmilk. Generally, breastmilk is good for 6 hours at room temperature, 6 days in the back of a refrigerator, and 6 months in the back of a freezer. It is good in a cooler with ice packs for about 24 hours. Always use thawed breastmilk within 24 hours.
5. When traveling by air, it’s helpful to know the TSA’s guidelines on traveling with breastmilk. Also, once on the plane, enlist assistance from your flight attendant & let her know that you will be breastfeeding or pumping in flight to head off any potential problems. If you plan to nurse, the best time to do this is during takeoff or landing as it helps to protect your baby’s ears from the changes in air pressure. The reverse is true for pumping, because during those times, you will not be able to use your electric pump.
6. When traveling by car, it’s important to allow for extra time along the way for breastfeeding stops. No matter how tempting, never hold a baby in your arms for breastfeeding while the car is moving. It puts you and your baby at unnecessary risk for injury. Instead, wait for the next exit or rest stop so that while you nurse, you can also relax and have something to eat & drink. If for any reason you cannot stop, it may be a good idea to have a few bottles of breastmilk on hand in a cooler. Take it out about 20-30 minutes before an anticipated feeding to allow the milk to come to room temperature. There are also bottle warmers available that are powered by car chargers. (Those have saved me more than once on very long road trips!)
7. Technology is your friend. There might not be an app for it yet, but refer to these websites to help you find a nursing friendly room. Nursing room locators in the United States can be found here and here, and internationally, here.
8. Stay hydrated. Not only do you lose a lot of fluids while breastfeeding, traveling itself is dehydrating so remember to drink and eat well throughout the day. You need to be well taken care of to take good care of your baby!
Mommies who travel frequently, what’s worked for you? I invite you to
share any tips or suggestions in the comments below.