Nursing (or breastfeeding) is a beautiful thing. I feel fortunate to have been able to feed my baby with my boobs for over a year. I would like to put out in the universe though, that this post is NOT about breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. Did you feed your baby? Are they growing? Congratulations mom, you did it 🙂
This post IS however meant to be a “how-to” for people who are using their breasts for the sustenance of their little ones and would still like to be able to go on a road trip, go camping, on a plane, or for God’s sake just to the grocery store from time to time.
You might think for a minute, “Why do I need a how to when breastfeeding is God’s natural plan for women and children? It’s just food on the go, it couldn’t be easier.” My response is that you’re full of literal horseshit, as nursing can be incredibly complicated and a lot of women either breastfeed or pump or any combination of the two, making it absolutely anything but easy. So let’s dive in.
If you are nursing currently and plan to travel by plane, boat or car, my number one recommendation would be that you invest in a few versatile pieces of nursing friendly clothing and bras. My personal favorite brand is Love and Fit. All of their stuff is designed for exercise, but it’s mainly just sturdy and cute, so it’s a win-win for me.
If you are flying with your kiddo, plan on trying to nurse at takeoff and landing. This will provide your baby with the suction necessary to keep their ears acclimated to the elevation and pressure change. It will also potentially lull them to a tiny amount of sleep, giving you the breather you need and possibly enough time to order that mini bottle of white wine you’ve been eyeing. Don’t forget to board with “Family Boarding” with your airline and snag that window seat for some extra arm support.
In the airport itself, you will have several options for places to nurse. Most airports will have gates that are less busy than others where you can stow away in a corner, or even family restrooms if it’s privacy you seek. But do some research ahead of time because it is becoming more and more common for airports to have designated nursing rooms, or even lounges. For instance, in Southern California, there are nursing specific lounges at LAX, Long Beach, Ontario, Burbank and Santa Ana at least.
Aside from that, it’s pretty much business as usual when you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby and taking them with you on whatever adventure you seek.
Brace yourself. Here is where it gets complicated. Sure, free the nipple is all well and good when you are sweetly nursing a tired newborn, but it’s a lot less acceptable when said nipple is being pulled repeatedly through a funnel squeezing drops of milk out of your tits like a cow. Simply figuring out HOW or WHERE to pump when you are out and about is a challenge.
I would highly recommend that you invest in one or both of the following adapters for your breast pump (options linked are for Medela brand), depending on how you are traveling
By Air - Battery Adapter
By Car - Cigarette Lighter Adapter
Finding a place to pump in an airport is a real challenge for the aforementioned reason of… it’s weird and terrible. You can sometimes lock yourself into a family restroom that has an outlet, but you might risk having to sit on the bathroom floor, which is terrifying in and of itself. Instead, if you purchase a battery adapter for your pump, you can sit calmly atop your throne (read: toilet) in any stall in a public restroom and zone off to the sweet humm/buzz.
Now as mentioned previously, make sure you do your research because perhaps there is a more glamorous option for you at the airport you are visiting. In addition to lounges and nursing rooms, there is a company called Mamava that supplies “lactation pods” to work and public places… like airports. As a Phoenix native, I can proudly tell you that there is a Mamava pod across from gate A22 in Terminal 4. Use their app to find a location near you, and if you happen to be in Terminal 3, then thank the Lord you have your battery adapter.
As far as getting through airport security with your breast pump, it should not be an issue. I would pull it out of your bag and put it in a bin for screening to avoid any hold up, but I have flown with mine many times.
If you are on a road trip or camping and need to get your pump on, then the car adapter for your pump that plugs right into the cigarette lighter will be your best friend. Please pump responsibly though and stick to pumping while in the passenger seat.
Breastmilk and Flight Regulations
While this can sometimes feel like a huge hassle, I found the TSA to be extremely understanding of traveling with breastmilk, even large quantities, with or without my child. I have several times had to travel for work while my kiddo was still nursing, only to fly home with 50+ ounces of frozen breastmilk in a cooler bag and no baby in sight.
TSA guidelines can be found HERE, but in general, here is what I would recommend:
- Store it in clear containers or bags
- Freeze it if possible just to avoid it hitting room temperature during travel time
- Pull all of your milk or milk related items out of your bag to be screened separately
- Be patient, as they will likely need to test the outside of your containers
As with lots of things, traveling with your little one while they are still on the tit can seem like a reason to just stay at home. Don’t let it be. Nursing and even pumping on the go can be very feasible with a little preparation. You got this mama!