In This Post:
Are you preparing for an upcoming trip and thinking how the heck am I going to…
Breastfeed while traveling?
Pump while traveling?
Travel without my breastfed baby?
Do with my expressed breastmilk while traveling?
All these questions, on top of the stress of traveling, add more stress to breastfeeding moms!
Being prepared is the key to conquering breastfeeding and traveling like a pro!
So that is what we are going to do! I am going to cover everything you need to know to prepare yourself for your upcoming trip.
General Tips for Breastfeeding and Traveling
No matter your travel plans, here are some general tips to help keep you sane and stress-free:
Have a plan in place on how you will feed your baby (or pump) while traveling.
- Find places along your route to pull over around your baby’s usual feeding time
- Find out if your airport has a lactation pod for your layover
- Decide if you are going to pump or chest feed your baby
- Buy a manual pump if you don’t have a way to pump without an electrical outlet
Give Yourself Extra Time To Get To Your Destination
I recommend this for anyone traveling with kids, whether you are breastfeeding or not. In reality, getting anywhere with kiddos takes more time. Make sure you have time to find a comfortable place to nurse when your baby is hungry.
Feed Baby On-Demand
Feeding your baby on demand is the best way to maintain your milk supply while traveling.
Try To Keep A Routine Like You Are Home
Mimic your baby’s sleep, feeding, and diapering routine as much as you can while traveling.
Keeping a similar routine will help:
- Reduce the stress on you and your baby
- Maintain your milk supply
- Make for a smoother transition when you get to your travel location and back home
Tips for Breastfeeding While Driving
Are you planning an extended drive where you know your baby will need to feed along the way?
Follow the general tips above, plus these few tips I’ll share with you to help on your road trip with your baby!
Note: It is not safe, nor recommended, to take your baby out of their car seat while driving to nurse! You don’t have to remove your baby from the car seat to nurse, but stop the car if you do.
- Plan to stop during your baby’s feeding time to nurse. On the side of the road, fill up the gas tank, grab a bite to eat, etc.
- Offer expressed breastmilk to your baby in a bottle if you don’t want to stop (or are in a time pinch). You can even pump while driving – as a passenger, of course!
- Plan to stop with older babies – especially ones that are mobile. They don’t understand being in the car seat for an extended period of time. Allow them a break and time to stretch.
- Keep a pacifier in the car. The pacifier will help to soothe your baby until you can find a place to pull over or pump (or prepare) a bottle to feed.
Pro Tip: Plan your stops ahead of time. This is easier to do if your baby is on a natural feeding schedule (or for older babies who are on a feeding schedule).
Determine what time you will leave and around where along your trip would be a “feeding time.” Look there for a place you can stop – gas station, restaurant, park, etc.
I like doing this because I can check out the location and make sure it’s safe, clean, and well recommended.
Remember to be flexible though. Your baby may decide they’re hungry long before your planned stop!
Tips for Breastfeeding While Flying
We fly home to California at least a few times a year to visit…and no this didn’t stop when we started having kids! I’ve flown many times, both with my husband and on my own with the babe.
Below are tips & tricks that I have learned along the way while breastfeeding and flying!
- “Nursing up and nursing down.” During takeoff and landing, the pressure in the cabin changes causes your ears to pop. Nursing your baby during this time can help to avoid fussiness from the discomfort.
PRO TIP: If you are flying with your baby strapped into a car seat you will be unable to take them out and nurse him or her. Bring a pacifier instead to help!
- Pack a nursing cover or blanket in your personal bag. When I fly with my husband, I will sit at the window seat, and he will usually give me enough cover and privacy to nurse.
- All large airports in the US should have lactation rooms or pods. Before you leave for your trip, look up where the lactation pods or rooms are in the airports you’re flying through.
- Take advantage of Minute Suites. Minute Suites are in most large international airports. You can rent out a private room for an “X” amount of time. I found this helpful to have a quiet, dark, private space for the baby to nap during long layovers. (They have a military discount!)
PRO TIP: Minute Suites offer a free 30-minute shower to breastfeeding moms. Definitely take advantage of this if you have an overnight layover and someone to watch the baby!
What about TSA? Check out TSA’s special procedures for traveling with children.
Tips for Breastfeeding & Traveling Without Your Breastfed Baby
First, let me say…if you’re planning a trip without your baby you must pump to maintain your milk supply!
Traveling without your baby can be more challenging because it’s easier to breastfeed than pump in public. Remember planning is key! Here are some tips to help you prepare.
Before You Leave for Your Trip
- Have a supply of expressed breastmilk for the caregiver to feed your baby. Unless you plan on supplementing with donor breastmilk or formula. If you plan on supplementing you still need to pump while away!
- Get your baby used to drinking from a bottle and from a caregiver ASAP. Especially if they have never received expressed milk from a bottle.
- Look up designated lactation rooms for airports you are traveling through.
- Buy a manual pump or electric pump with a battery pack so you don’t have to rely on having an electrical outlet to pump.
While on Your Trip
- Try to pump according to your normal feeding/pumping schedule. You need to maintain the demand for breastmilk to maintain your milk supply.
- Stay hydrated and eat well-balanced meals to help maintain your milk supply.
- Store expressed breastmilk safely. If you don’t have the means of storing your milk still pump and dump to maintain your milk supply. More on storing & transporting your expressed milk is below.
Storing and Transporting Breastmilk
I could write an entire blog post on how to properly store and transport your breastmilk! But, let me touch on a few tips that will help you most:
How long is the expressed breastmilk good for while traveling?
Room temperature for up to 4 hours – as long as it is not in direct sunlight.
Chilled or frozen in an insulated cooler with ice packs or gel packs for up to 24 hours.
How do I fly with expressed breastmilk?
Breastmilk is not held to the same regulations as other liquids through TSA.
“formula, breast milk and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage. Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in your carry-on.”Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Make sure to inform the TSA agent you are traveling with breastmilk or a breast pump.
They may ask you to take the breastmilk out of the cooler and scan it through the X-ray machine. X-rayed breastmilk is still safe for your baby to drink!
Now that you do have the right to ask them not to open the breastmilk if they try to perform any testing on your milk.
You do not have to be traveling with your baby to be able to travel with breastmilk or a breast pump.
PRO TIP: When traveling with expressed breastmilk make sure to only fill your storage bags or bottles ¾ full to allow for expansion! No one wants to deal with a busted storage bag OR waste that precious milk!
Can I ship my breastmilk back home or to where I plan on traveling?
You can ship your breastmilk using dry ice. Here is how:
- Freeze storage containers or bags of expressed breastmilk
- Wrap in newspaper or packing paper and pack tightly in a shipping box.
- Scatter chipped dry ice all around the outside of your wrapped containers or bags.
- Seal the package tightly.
Your breastmilk should stay good for several days if packaged properly.
You can make shipping your breastmilk home super easy by using Milk Stork.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Remember preparation is key to a stress-free trip (or as stress-free as it can be)!
Flexibility and going with the flow will also help you get through your trip.
I know the two sound a bit contradicting, but I promise you will be fine!
If I failed to answer any questions you have about breastfeeding and traveling, please drop a comment below and I can answer your Q!
You got this mama!