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BREASTFEEDING AND TRAVELING TIPS
There are many reasons why you might be traveling while you are breastfeeding.
You might be breastfeeding and traveling for a fun family vacation. You may be a nursing mom who has to travel for a business trip. You may be making a long distance move.
For some parents, the thought of traveling with their baby strikes fear in their heart. But it doesn’t have to be scary.
If the thought of traveling while breastfeeding makes you break out in a cold sweat, keep reading for my most helpful tips. Being the mother of three breastfed babies I have experienced my share of travel as a nursing mom, including moving to another state, twice.
With some planning, you can have a memorable trip for all the good reasons, and not because it was remembered as “the time we went on vacation with the baby” as you cringe.
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING WHILE TRAVELING
- Your baby’s food is always ready and at the perfect temperature.
- No need to be mixing formula or spend exorbitant prices for ready-to-feed formula.
- You won’t need to worry about finding a place to buy formula if you run out.
- No need to wash bottles and nipples in hotel sinks.
- Breastfeeding can make a plane ride more comfortable for a baby. As they suck and swallow it helps relieve the pressure in their ears.
- Breastfeeding makes falling asleep in a strange place easier for a baby.
We took a plane trip when my first baby was only four weeks old. We were going to be moving from Colorado to Arizona and needed to go on a house-hunting trip.
I held him on the plane and breastfed him, and all went well.
He was exclusively breastfed so I didn’t have to worry about purchasing or preparing formula or washing up bottles and nipples.
Breastfeeding made the entire trip was about as stress-free as you could get
When he was four months old we made that move and we drove. I was so thankful that he was exclusively breastfed because it made traveling so easy. I didn’t have to wash bottles in hotel sinks or take cans of formula and bottles of water to mix in the car.
A mom who is trying to follow the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for safe formula preparation will be truly challenged if she doesn’t have access to boiling water.
GENERAL TIPS FOR BREASTFEEDING AND TRAVELING
- Plan, Plan, Plan
- Take a sense of humor
- Expect the unexpected so be flexible
- Take a breast pump, even if you don’t expect to have to use it.
TIPS FOR ROAD TRIPS WHILE BREASTFEEDING
Expect to stop more often than when you travel without a baby. Your baby will need to breastfeed and have her diaper changed. You will also need to stretch your legs and use the restroom.
- Map out your route and check for safe places to stop along the way.
- If your baby is older pack snacks for those times when he gets hungry in the middle of a driving stretch.
- Pack snacks and plenty of water for yourself.
- Take some pumped milk for times when you have to go a longer stretch because there is no safe place to stop.
- You may also need to take an alternate route to ensure that you have a safe place to stop.
- Take a pump if you can’t stop and your breasts start to feel uncomfortably full.
TIPS FOR SAFELY BREASTFEEDING ON ROAD TRIPS
- Don’t take your baby out of the car seat to breastfeed while it is moving. The risk is just not worth the time saved or the convenience.
- It’s not safe to lean over and breastfeed a baby in a car seat, not to mention incredibly uncomfortable.
- Pulling over to the shoulder is not a good idea either.
- Map out your route and try to plan stops for breastfeeding and diaper changes every 2-3 hours.
- If you are traveling alone try to stop at places that have other people around.
- If you stop somewhere and someone makes you feel unsafe, leave.
BREASTFEEDING AND TRAVELING TIPS FOR AIRPLANE TRIPS
- Breastfeeding or giving a bottle of breast milk on take-off and landing will help prevent any pressure build-up in your baby’s ears.
- Buying a seat on an airplane is the safest option.
- Many airports now have breastfeeding/pumping rooms or pods.
- These are available on a first come, first serve basis
- If you are using a car seat and keeping your little one in it the entire time in the air and giving bottles, make sure you have a pump with you even if it’s a short trip and you don’t think you’ll need to pump.
- Planes can sit on the runway for hours, adding to your time.
- If you’re just sitting on the runway you, of course, can take your baby out of his car seat to breastfeed. However, sometimes they give very little warning before they say, “We’re taking off now.
TRAVEL VACCINATIONS WHILE BREASTFEEDING
If you are traveling internationally and are wondering about the safety of necessary vaccinations the United Stated Centers For Disease Control (CDC) has a list of vaccines that are safe while breastfeeding and those that are contraindicated.
The two that they list as contraindicated are Smallpox and Yellow Fever.
TRAVELING WITHOUT BABY WHILE BREASTFEEDING
If you are traveling while breastfeeding without your baby you will need to pump to maintain your milk supply. If you come home and try to breastfeed your baby and there’s not enough milk, he will probably be pretty annoyed.
You want to try to pump as often as your baby normally breastfeeds. If you pump in addition to breastfeeding on a daily basis you will want to add those sessions when figuring out how often you need to pump.
I once did a consult for an exclusively pumping mama who went on a trip without her baby to a fun place. It was very hot. Her days were longer than usual and she wasn’t getting a lot of sleep. The adult beverages were flowing. She was not drinking as much water as she should have in such a hot climate. She only pumped half as often as she normally did.
Can you guess what happened?
Yup, her milk supply tanked. With the help of some supplements, he was able to get her supply back to normal when she resumed her normal pumping schedule.
If you are going to be traveling without baby while breastfeeding you will want to make sure you have a good pump. It’s a sad truth that electric pumps can fail so take a manual pump with you as back-up.
Decide if you will be saving your milk or discarding it. If you are saving it you need a place to safely store it.
TRAVELING WITH BREAST MILK
You are allowed to take breast milk through security at the airport. Check TSA Traveling With Breast Milk Guidelines.
I advise pulling that page up on your phone and if an uninformed TSA agent gives you any pushback, whip out your phone and say, “It says I can right here!” If they are having a bad day and are not cooperative, ask for their manager.
If you won’t be with your baby, will you be taking your breastmilk with you, discarding it or shipping it?
- Dry Ice is the best way to keep it cold if you are checking it with your bags.
- Use a Styrofoam cooler if you can locate one.
- FedEx has Refrigerated and Cold Shipping where you can ship your breast milk.
TIPS FOR NURSING IN PUBLIC
In the US, you have a legal right to breastfeed wherever you have a legal right to be.
- Most other parts of the world don’t have the hang-ups with breastfeeding in public that we have in the US.
- If you are not comfortable breastfeeding in public, you can either find a private place or use a cover.
- There are nursing rooms at many, many places in the US
- Nordstrom has a room just for moms and babies. It made me deliriously happy the first time I saw the sign on one of the breastfeeding symbol instead of a bottle.
- Some Whole Foods have nursing rooms.
- Disney has a Baby Center.
Some moms are more comfortable being covered up during breastfeeding. You can just use a receiving blanket.
If you prefer a cover, I think the Nursing Cover – Baby Nursing Breastfeeding Cover by KeaBabies – All-in-1 Soft Breathable Stretchy Car Seat Canopy – Infinity Nursing Cover up for Girls, Boys – Carseat Canopy Covers is amazing because I love things that are multi-purpose.
This Infinity Shawl by Zalamoon is not specifically a nursing cover but you could use it as one. It is a fashionable item that you’d be able to wear long after you are finished with breastfeeding. It is available in 13 different colors and prints.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BREASTFEEDING AND TRAVELING
Traveling while breastfeeding does not need to be stressful. With careful planning and preparation you can have a memorable, stress-free trip.
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