Whether you’re taking your first solo trip or traveling as a family for the holidays, there can be a myriad of concerns that come to mind, as you think about maintaining a healthy milk supply while away.
Last year as I arrived by myself in Korea’s bustling Incheon International airport, I immediately began searching for a place to pump. I was able to find a lactation room quite quickly, but as I began looking for an outlet, there wasn’t one. Little did I know, throughout my trip, I would learn the hard way that being a breastfeeding and travel-loving mum requires a bit more planning and nuance.
To help you in your journey, I’ve taken my traveling experiences and my expertise as a lactation professional to compile a list of need-to-know pumping and travel information. Here are 7 tips to make pumping while traveling as easy as can be.
1. Bring along a double electric breastpump. These pumps are more efficient and suited for regular pumping use. If you’ll be separated from your little one on this trip, you’ll want to pump every 3-4 hours with a reliable breast pump. Some electric breast pumps, like this one, can run on rechargeable batteries too, which means that you don't have to plug them in as long as they are charged.
2. Carry a manual pump as backup in your purse. This is useful if you travel with your baby as well. Once you arrive at your destination you may want to go out with friends and leave your little one with grandma. Manual pumps are great for infrequent pumping needs, like once a day, or for times when you find yourself out on a long road trip without electricity or in need of pumping a quick bottle while out. What's more, manual pumps are quiet, discrete, easy to clean, and they can even be used under a nursing cover while at a restaurant without drawing lots of attention.
3. Bring an appropriate a universal converter for your final destination and layovers. The last thing you want is to be stuck in an airport waiting for your next flight, but about to explode. Converters are tiny and can easily fit in a cosmetic pouch. Buy more than one to store in your checked bag and purse, just in case.
4. Pack plenty of snacks and stay hydrated. It can be quite drying on airplanes, and you may forget to eat if you’re running between events and meetings. Stashing a few nourishing snacks in your bag and a foldable water bottle that can be easily emptied and refilled before boarding can help avoid dehydration and make pumping more productive.
5. Start building your stash a few weeks out. Set aside a small stock of milk before you leave for your partner or childcare provider to feed your little one if you’ll only be gone for a few days. Begin by adding a pumping session in the morning when you typically have more milk. Store the milk in small 1-2 oz. increments in the freezer section, separate from your refrigerator, and it can last up to 6 months.
6. Use Milk Stork delivery. You can ship your precious freshly pumped milk right to your front door. If you’ll be traveling on short notice and don’t’ have a chance to build up a freezer supply before you leave, you can use this amazing service to ship up to 72oz. at a time of breast milk, from wherever you are in the United States.
7. Have your caregiver use the pace feeding style while you’re away. I know many mamas worry that giving their baby a bottle while they’re away will cause their little one to prefer it over the breast. But thankfully there are a few strategies your child’s caregiver can implement to limit this from happening.
Once you and your baby are reunited or back home, offer unlimited access to feeding at the breast, and increase your times of skin-to-skin. A really great way to do this is by using a baby carrier with your baby only in a diaper and you without a top on. This stimulation will help your body return to its appropriate milk supply level if you’ve experienced a dip while away.
Anjelica Malone is a former Third Culture kid turned Global Mama. She is the author of Milk Boss 101: The Modern Breastfeeding Journal and Guide. She is a Lactation Educator Counselor, a birth and postpartum doula, and a Childbirth Educator serving women in the Seattle area, where she lives with her husband, two Little Women, and their mini-dachshund, Aoki. Visit www.AnjelicaMalone.com to book her services or read her writings, which focus on encouraging women to embrace their passions and equipping them to navigate motherhood in the way that’s most natural to them.