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What this breastfeeding mama wants you to know about pumping + traveling

Here’s what helped me on my first trip away from the baby. 

What this breastfeeding mama wants you to know about pumping + traveling

After a whirlwind two months dealing with an infant in the NICU who was six weeks early, and balancing a toddler at home, I was eager for some quiet time, to not be on a schedule, to wear real clothes.


But with that quiet time away comes the challenges of actually being away. Did I have enough milk stored in the freezer? Would he take a bottle? Am I a glutton for punishment getting on a plane during flu season? Was I even ready to be away from my newborn for this extended time?

In the end, I knew all of these things were manageable. It would be good for me. And for my husband to have boy time. My sister-in-law’s baby shower in Florida was the perfect “escape,” and with my amazing husband’s encouragement, I booked it!

If you are a breastfeeding mama, you probably understand the feeling of being constantly tethered to your adorably sweet eat-around-the-clock infant. And while I wouldn’t change that for the world, it IS nice to feel a little bit of freedom. Even if it’s for an hour, or for 36 hours in my case.

I left enough milk at home for bottle feeding our little guy, but how would I deal with the pumping and traveling and attending events? Would I be forced to pump next to a stranger on the plane? Would there be a place for me at the airport to pump? How long could I really go between pumping? Did I bring enough disposable breast pads? If I have a glass of wine, (which I could desperately use), do I need to pump and dump?

Luckily, a lot of that worrying was unnecessary. Here’s what saved me— and made the trip so much more relaxing and enjoyable.

1. My diaper bag

I knew I needed a bag that could do double duty. I was so happy that I found the Petunia Pickle Bottom Axis Backpack. It’s super roomy on top to hold my pump and pumping paraphernalia (more on that later). And the bottom is a separate zip compartment that is a cooler pack. YES, a cooler pack! It was able to store (and keep cold) my frozen ice packs, and I had so much milk that the TSA man who checked my bag made this face ?. This ACTUAL face. High five to me!

Bonus: everyone thought it was a super stylish backpack, not a diaper bag. I got SO many compliments.

2. My cover-ups

I was gone for such a short time, so I carried my luggage on. And I needed things that served more than one purpose. My aden + anais swaddles are some of my favorites. I use them for literally everything. They are also light and roll easily, so they barely take up any room. On this trip, they doubled as a discrete pumping cover and also a smock of sorts for my clothes to avoid milk leakage and stains. And, obviously, they're beautiful. I’ve also used them as a cute bathing suit cover-up. They tie like a sarong.

Tip: the silky ones tied better in a knot around my neck when I was using as a pumping cover.

3. Disposable placemats

Unfortunately, pumping on the go means having to do the deed in some pretty questionable places. Frankly, gross places. So I packed disposable placemats that I normally use for my toddler to lay down first on any surface.

This way I knew I had a clean place to lay my pump parts or transfer milk. It greatly reduced the ick factor. And when I was done, I threw them right in the garbage. I also packed individual gallon-sized Ziplock bags. And labeled them accordingly: tubing, CLEAN parts, DIRTY parts, milk storage bags, paper towels, etc. It helped me stay organized and move quickly.

4. I spoke up

I could not believe how many times I used the word "breast" during this trip. ? When you get to TSA, tell them right away "I am carrying a breast pump, freezer packs, and breastmilk in this bag." Ninety-nine percent of the time, they are super accommodating. But allow extra time, because they may want to check each of the milk storage bags.

Also, call the hotel ahead of time. Tell them you will need a fridge to store breast milk. Request one in your room. They should NOT charge you for this since it's technically a medical need. If they don’t have individual refrigerators for rooms, ask how they can accommodate you by storing your freezer packs in the freezer and your milk in the refrigerator, perhaps in their kitchen. Make sure to bring Ziploc bags labeled with your last name, so you ensure they do not get thrown out.

5. Outside help

There are great services out there with mamas in mind. Milk Stork is one of them. They will ship refrigerated boxes to your hotel and allow you to ship milk back overnight to your little buddy at home. This takes the stress out of traveling with milk, and make sure you have days worth of milk stored up in the fridge or freezer. It’s a little pricey, but definitely worth the peace of mind!

Now go ahead mama, plan that escape. You can do it! ?

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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