Holiday travel can be stressful for even the most seasoned travelers. Add a breastfeeding baby into the mix and that opens a whole new set of challenges that make planning ahead even more important.
Being prepared can help you overcome the bumps in the road that are bound to happen. But also remember to not be too hard on yourself. You won't be able to predict or plan for every challenge.
Do your best to stay calm and go with the flow. The little mishaps and misadventures of today turn into the great stories of tomorrow.
Here are some tips to help make the whole trip a little smoother:
For road trips
- Use a program like Google Maps to chart the best course and find rest areas along the way.
- Build extra time into your plans. Trips will take longer than usual with millions on the road. You will need to stop and nurse your baby on average every 2-3 hours while traveling.
- Be patient. Mentally prepare yourself for it to be a long trip. Warn eager grandparents or relatives that you will be arriving later than usual.
- Don't forget your road trips snacks. Nursing moms need extra calories, so pack water bottles and healthy snacks to keep your energy—and patience—up.
- Pack the right equipment: In addition to diapers, wipes and a change for clothes for baby (and you!), you will want to make sure you have everything you need to breastfeed your baby while en route.
Breastfeeding + pumping checklist:
- If your electric pump is also battery operated, pack extra batteries.
- Pack an extra set of pump parts in case you can't clean yours while on the road.
- Bring a nursing cover or blanket in case you feel uncomfortable with strangers being able to see in your car.
- Pack a cooler with ice packs, as well as storage bottles or storage bags.
- If you're using bottles and nipples to feed your expressed breast milk, it's always helpful to pack 1-2 more than you think you need.
- Dress for success. Wear a nursing bra and shirt that makes breastfeeding as easy as possible.
- Carry-on "must have" items: You'll want to pack a change of clothes for baby but don't forget about you! Pack an extra shirt for yourself in your carry-on bag. Also take nursing "must have" items, like your HPA lanolin, or an extra set of disposable nursing pads, and slip them into a carry-on as well.
- Want a nursing cover? Pack a cover or blanket in your carry-on if you are uncomfortable nursing in public.
- Breastfeed at take-off and landing. Swallowing helps babies adjust to the change in air pressure. If you can't nurse then, consider using a soother or pacifier.
- Bringing breast milk through security: TSA doesn't restrict size of containers for breast milk but you need to let security know you're traveling with it. Here are some more tips from the TSA.