Tips for Traveling while Pumping Breastmilk

Tips for Traveling while Pumping Breastmilk

As any pumping mama knows, pumping in your own home is a ton of work! Trying to pump in public places or while traveling...now that's a whole new level. Here's the good news...keeping up your milk supply while traveling doesn't have to be stressful. It just requires some forward planning. In this article, I'll share my top tips for navigating pump sessions on your next road trip or business trip. 


PACK STRATEGICALLY

If you want a smooth and easy experience pumping while traveling, you need to start with your packing list. The supplies you'll need to pack will depend on a few key factors:

  • Duration of your trip 
  • Where you will be staying 
  • Flying or driving

  • Let's start with luggage. If you are using air travel, you'll want to think about which items you will put in your checked bag and which you will store in a carry-on bag. You'll want to keep your breastmilk and supplies separate from the rest of your luggage (the TSA agents will likely test your breastmilk.) When I travel, I use the Fiona pump backpack by Sarah Wells Bags. The Fiona is neoprene and machine washable- ideal for traveling and washing away the filth! I keep my portable breast pump and Ceres Chill (use code Bemybreastfriend15 for 15% off your Chiller!) in this bag for easy access during the flight. If you'd like to give these excellent pumping bags a try, you can get 15% off with my code MYBREASTFRIEND15

     

    Things to Pack:

    • Portable breast pump
    • Cold storage (Ceres Chill or a small cooler with ice packs) 
    • Milk storage containers
    • Nursing cover (if that's your preference) 
    • Breast pump wipes

    WEAR PUMP FRIENDLY CLOTHING 

    Trust me, when you're trying to pump in a car seat or aboard an airplane, you'll want the simplest, pumping-friendly clothing you've got! I recommend wearing a hands-free pumping bra and layering your clothing to make pumping as simple as possible. While traveling, I prefer to pump with collection cups. For this, I choose to wear my Amelia Cami by Davin and Adley. I pair this with a looser t-shirt (bonus if it's v-neck) so I can look down inside my top while getting my cups situated discreetly. I prefer the Amelia for collection cups for two reasons:

    1. Easy to slip cups in and out without fiddling with nursing clips.
    2. The cups fit so well within this cami & stay put!

    Interested in giving the Amelia a try? Grab The Amelia Cami and use code BEMYBREASTFRIEND for 10% off. 

     

    LOOK FOR LACTATION PODS 

    If you are traveling by plane, there's a good chance your airport will have Mamava lactation rooms available. These cozy rooms will offer you a private and comfortable place to pump while you wait for your next flight. They provide outlets for plugging in your pump and are large enough to accommodate a stroller if you are traveling with your baby. To locate and unlock a Mamava lactation pod, you'll need to download the Mamava Breastfeed on the Go app

     

    FREEZE YOUR MILK 


    Freezing milk and packing ziplock bags. Freezing milk will always be in your best interest when compared to traveling with fresh/liquid milk. When frozen it is not subjected to the same testing protocols as liquified milk. If you are planning to bring milk that you've already pumped (as opposed to milk you plan to pump on the plane) consider freezing it ahead of time. 

    Bonus Tip: 

    Pack extra plastic bags for easy maneuvering. While all loose storage bags are contained in ONE large gallon-size bag, if TSA wants to inspect the cooler it’s being transported within, it’s an easier pluck out.

    KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

    Airport travel can be intimidating for exclusive pumping moms. Understandable...there are a lot of rules when it comes to liquids on airplanes. HOWEVER...it is totally within your rights to pump milk for your baby while traveling. Know your rights and don’t be afraid to speak up. Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

    • You do NOT have to run your milk through an x-ray. If this makes you uncomfortable, you can request a hand check of milk. 
    • If you opt for a hand-check of your milk, ask that they put on clean gloves. This will help prevent contamination of your milk. 
    • Breastmilk is considered a "medically necessary liquid" and therefore does not have to be limited in quantity like other liquids. 
    • Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs, and other accessories required to cool your breast milk – regardless of the presence of breast milk – are also allowed in carry-ons. 

    Stressed about TSA

    These quick tips will help make your experience navigating the TSA check as a pumping mom as smooth as possible. Also, check out TSA CARES for more on flying with breastmilk, formula, ice packs and more!

     

    THINK ABOUT COOLER STORAGE 

    Finding the best way to store your milk while traveling can be tricky at times. So what do we do when refrigerators aren’t readily accessible? While there are multiple answers to this question; the easiest might be cooler and ice packs! The Cold Gold Cooler by Sarah Wells Bags is my personal favorite. It is recommended for room temperature storage with provided ice pack for up to 8 hrs.

    According to ABM (Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine), milk can safely be stored at 15°C or 59°F for up to 24 hours. When this temperature is maintained it is equivalent to a cooler and ice pack. Diving further into the origin of this study you’ll find milk storage of 4 hours at 25°C or 77°F is also considered safe.

    If you find your ice pack has thawed and you are at a loss of what to do, find an airtight bag and fill it with ice! This option will help buy time while refreezing your current ice pack!

    The bottom line is don’t stress!! One thing we can all put faith in is our milk’s ability to fight off bacteria while allowing the good bacteria to thrive. If you’re worried about your milk at the end of a traveling day, smell it, taste it! You’ll have a good idea whether or not it’s gone sour.

    Looking for more?!

    In this episode of The Tired Moms Podcast, Becky Bernstein and I chat all things traveling with breastmilk! Becky is a Family Nurse Practitioner and IBCLC -- basically the perfect person for this topic. We cover everything from fresh milk to frozen milk, to traveling by car or plane, and even dry ice. You name it, we’ve got you covered! Take a listen. 

     

    REFERENCES:
    https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/breast-milk 

    https://abm.memberclicks.net/assets/DOCUMENTS/PROTOCOLS/8-human-milk-storage-protocol-english.pdf

    PubMed study

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8632934/

     

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