Travel Tips for a Breastfeeding Mama
Paging Margarita Marasigan, RN, CCE! Margarita, this week’s guest blogger, has some great tips for traveling mamas who are breastfeeding.
As the holiday season approaches and you travel with your baby to be with loved ones, here are eight helpful tips to make breastfeeding while traveling a smooth ride:
- Wear comfortable, breastfeeding-friendly clothing and have a coverup handy. Layers are key – nursing tanks and cardigans wear and pack easily.
- Bring along your breastpump. Car chargers, pumps that run on batteries and readily available electric sockets at hotels, airports and family lounges allow you to use your electric breastpump when you cannot nurse your baby. Also consider having a manual breastpump with you for those times when you cannot find a power source. They can be a quick, silent solution to relieve your filling breasts.
- Have cleaning supplies ready on the go. Airplane tap water is not safe for drinking or cleaning your pump parts and baby’s bottles. If you are traveling by car, you may not be able to clean your pump parts right away. Two of my favorite on-the-go products are from Medela: Quick Clean Wipes are a convenient way to clean your pump parts without soap and water. Micro-Steam Bags sanitize them in minutes in the microwave and provide storage between pumping sessions.
- Make sure you can store your breastmilk properly. You want to use containers that are sterile and airtight. It’s best to store in 2-4 oz portions. This wastes less milk and helps to avoid over feeding. Use the handy 6-6-6 rule to know how long you can keep pumped breastmilk. Generally, breastmilk is good for 6 hours at room temperature, 6 days in the back of a refrigerator, and 6 months in the back of a freezer. It is good in a cooler with ice packs for about 24 hours. Always use thawed breastmilk within 24 hours.
- When traveling by air, it’s helpful to know the TSA’s guidelines on traveling with breastmilk. Also, once on the plane, enlist assistance from your flight attendant and let her know that you will be breastfeeding or pumping in flight to head off any potential problems. If you plan to nurse, the best time to do this is during takeoff or landing as it helps to protect your baby’s ears from the changes in air pressure. The reverse is true for pumping, because during those times, you will not be able to use your electric pump.
- When traveling by car, it’s important to allow for extra time along the way for breastfeeding stops. No matter how tempting, never hold a baby in your arms for breastfeeding while the car is moving. It puts you and your baby at unnecessary risk for injury. Instead, wait for the next exit or rest stop so that while you nurse, you can also relax and have something to eat and drink. If for any reason you cannot stop, it may be a good idea to have a few bottles of breastmilk on hand in a cooler. Take it out about 20-30 minutes before an anticipated feeding to allow the milk to come to room temperature. There are also bottle warmers available that are powered by car chargers. (Those have saved me more than once on very long road trips!)
- Technology is your friend; take advantage of having information in the palm of your hand. One of the most popular and useful apps for finding a quiet place to breastfeed is Moms Pump Here. They go based on your location to help you find safe places to breastfeed or pump, that are also rated by fellow moms. So far they have a catalog of places in the United States, Canada and U.S. international territories.
- Stay hydrated. Not only do you lose a lot of fluids while breastfeeding, traveling itself is dehydrating so remember to drink and eat well throughout the day. You need to be well taken care of to take good care of your baby!