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Breastfeeding and Traveling Tips
Vacation, business trip, long distance move. These are all reasons why you might be traveling while you are breastfeeding. For some parents, the thought of traveling with their baby strikes fear in their heart.
Worry not. Read on for the best breastfeeding and traveling tips.
With my first baby Nicholas, we took a plane trip when he was four weeks old. We were going to be moving from Colorado to Arizona and needed to go on a house hunting trip. I just 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. 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 breastfeeding because it made traveling so easy.
We took him on a vacation back to Colorado when he was 9 months old. Solids were a big part of his diet, but still being breastfed made the plane ride easier, and falling asleep in a strange place was never a problem.
Honestly, the most complicated part of that trip was taking a baby who lived in Arizona to Colorado in the winter. We arrived in a snow storm so our first stop was to find a snowsuit.
We moved back from Arizona to Colorado when my daughter Susie, baby # 2 was 9 months old. Things were more complicated because she was eating solids, but the breastfeeding part still made it sooo easy. She wasn’t a huge fan of solids anyway.
When #3, Patrick, came along, we couldn’t afford to go anywhere. Traveling with three young children was a daunting thought as well. I have no doubt that breastfeeding would have definitely made it much easier had we ever done it.
It is summer as I write this and summertime is vacation time for a lot of people. With some planning, it can be a memorable vacation for all the good reasons, and not because it was remembered as “the time we went on vacation with the baby” as you cringe.
General Tips For Breastfeeding and Traveling
- Plan, Plan, Plan
- Take a sense of humor
- Expect the unexpected so be flexible
- Take a Pump
- Even if you don’t expect to have to pump
Road Trip Breastfeeding and Traveling Tips
The most important tip is to expect to stop more often that 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 that doesn’t have a safe place to stop.
- Take a pump if you can’t stop and your breasts start to feel uncomfortably full.
- Stop at places that have other people.
- If you stop somewhere and someone makes you feel unsafe, leave.
- Don’t ever 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. I feel evangelical about car seat use.
- 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.
- Buying a seat on an airplane is the safest options.
Airplane Trip Breastfeeding and Traveling Tips
- 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.
- A lot of 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 don’t give any warning before they will say, “We’re taking off now.
Trips Without Your Baby
Unless this is a trip to cold turkey wean from breastfeeding, you will need 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.
I recently did a consult for a 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 only pumped half as much as she should have.
Can you guess what happened?
Yup her milk supply tanked.
I was fairly confident that with some increased stimulation she would be able to get her milk supply back up to normal. My fingers are crossed for her.
- Make sure you have a good pump.
- Electric pumps can fail, so having a backup manual pump is not a bad idea either.
- Will you be saving your milk or discarding it?
Traveling With Breastmilk
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.
- Check out the FedEx Breast Milk Shipping program specifically for breastmilk
Breastfeeding Tips 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.
You can read my rant about people still getting worked about Breastfeeding in Public
Some moms are more comfortable being covered up during breastfeeding. You can just use a receiving blanket. If you prefer a cover, I like 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 (Black) because I love things that are multi-purpose.
This one is a little pricier but it is very fashionable. You’d be able to wear it long after you are finished with breastfeeding.
Traveling while breastfeeding does not need to be stressful. All it takes is planning and preparation.
Have you traveled while breastfeeding? What tip can you share that was helpful? Please share it in the comments.
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.