Breastfeeding and traveling actually go together quite well–when you are bringing your baby, that is. When you are traveling WITHOUT your baby and you are still a breastfeeding mama, things get complicated. That is why I wanted to share my advice for how I managed to make sure Aurora was fed, to keep my supply up, and to safely bring all my milk back home while I was traveling.
Firstly, breastfeeding shouldn’t keep you from traveling. It is not easy but it is definitely doable, and as a breastfeeding mom, you rarely have breaks anyway so if a worthwhile opportunity comes along, I suggest you take it.
Leave a HUGE Stash
You need to first make sure that you leave your home with enough breastmilk to feed your little one while you are away. I produce enough but was never an “over producer” so for me, this was the hardest part.
To make sure that I had enough, I would wake up at 3am and pump in the middle of the night every night. This made the most sense for me because throughout the day Aurora drinks a lot and she also doesn’t like me to pump in front of her (it’s too interesting/she rips out the cords etc).
It is not ideal to wake up in the middle of the night but I would set up all the parts so it was ready to go, plug the pump in near the couch and just stumble out to pump in a half-asleep stupor. After, I’d pop straight in the fridge. Don’t worry about labeling/storing until morning. I found that the more things I did where I used my brain (like writing down the date and ounces, lol) the harder it was for me to fall back asleep.
It turned out that we JUST had enough because she was eating more than expected that weekend. Most babies need about 25 ounces per day around 6/7/8 months. Aurora was eating closer to 28 ounces, in addition to solids for breakfast and dinner, so our calculations were a bit off.
Moral of the story: the more you can leave, the better!
Make Sure you have a Fridge!
One thing to note is that you will need access to a refrigerator to store your milk while away, so I made sure to call our hotel (in this case, the Austin Motel) to make sure that they had one–they did!
Also, an in-room microwave is super handy for sterilizing, but not necessary. Check and see if they have one or can bring one in. I used just hot water in the bathroom and special, all natural dishsoap, which worked fine, but I would’ve loved a microwave.
Use Milk Stork to get your milk home safely
Milk Stork SAVED me! I am so happy that I found them and that a service like this even exists! Depending on the option you choose, they send a Pump & Ship or Pump & Tote package to your hotel that either allows you to ship your milk back (yes it’ll keep it all cold for 72 hours) or gives you a carry on tote to take with you on the plane.
I opted to do both so I could ship the majority and then carry on a day’s worth. This was ideal as it takes about a day for the milk to get there (it is overnighted via Fedex) so I beat my milk home. If you are going for longer trips, this would really come in handy as you can send your milk back home while you are still away!
I also really liked the customer service and how Fedex picks up the package from your hotel.
Note: in my situation, Fedex did NOT pick up in time so I actually carried the package to the nearest Fedex store. It wa not worth the risk of them forgetting that precious milk!
Until airplanes make a special room for breastfeeding moms to pump, trying to pump while up in the air will not be easy. You are forced to either make it work in the tiny bathroom or at your seat underneath blankets. I’ve done the latter on an overnight flight when everyone was sleeping, lights were off and it was only my husband and I in the row. Those conditions don’t happen often, so I would suggest thinking about the flying time when you are deciding if you are going on a plane without your baby. For me, the flight was to Austin from LAX, and only about 2 hours so I could make it work without pumping until the airport.
Airports have come a long way and now are some of the most well equipped locations for pumping! I am very thankful to have discovered Mamava, a female owned company that has created self standing lactation rooms and pumping pods. They are clean, uplifting and private–plus they are in a lot of public spaces.
To find one, download the Mamava app and you will be able to find out which terminal they are in and even if there are other breastfeeding stations in your area. This was a lifesaver for me all across the country!
Good Breastmilk Storage Bags
Now with all this time spent pumping your milk, you want to make sure that your “liquid gold” doesn’t leak! I have tried Lasinoh bags as well as Unimom Breastmilk bags, but for traveling, I recommend the heavy duty Booby Bags. These have a double ziplock and they are sturdier material. They also fit more (up to 8 ounces) easily.
You can pick them up right here. I am so happy that I did the research and found them!
Portable Mini Freezer Pack
So, how was I going to keep the milk chilled before I got it into my hotel refrigerator? I stowed a small freezer pack (like this cute one) in my purse before I went out. So handy!
Bring along Lactation Bites
Pumping all day long is not fun and many are worried that their milk supply will drop. To fight that and to fight my all day long hunger cravings, I packed a long a bag of Majka–delicious lactation bites. These are all natural, organic and full of stuff that is good for you and your milk supply. I love the taste of the chocolate bites and the protein powder is excellent too! I didn’t notice any drop in supply!
I pumped 4 times per day and ended up completely replacing my supply when I got back home. And my little daughter was happily fed the whole time. It can happen but just takes a bit of planning. Hopefully, these tips help make it a little easier!