A Lactation Consultant's Guide To Traveling: With Or Without Baby
As someone who values travel and has traveled around the world with children, I know first hand the stress and anxiety it can produce along with an increased risk for clogged ducts and mastitis. I am going to guide you through different stages and situations of travel and give you some tips and tricks to make travel with and without baby easier so you feel more at ease and more prepared.
Traveling with baby
If you plan on traveling with your breast/chestfeeding baby, there is no need to pack a pump unless you foresee needing to pump for any missed feedings during your trip. All you need to do is come prepared knowing how to hand express to relieve any engorgement you may encounter from changes in schedules. If no one has every taught you how to properly hand express, ask your local IBCLC or check out this video:
-Try to nurse baby during take-off and while the plane descends into your destination to help baby's ears pressurize appropriately.
**Keep an extra pair or two of clothing for you and baby and lots of extra diapers and wipes. Sometimes, when the plane takes off and pressurizes, babies will have blow-outs, and no one wants to remain covered in poop for the remainder of the flight. (I'm speaking from personal experience here.)
-Try to keep baby on somewhat of a normal feeding schedule to make sure your breasts aren't at an increased risk for clogged ducts or mastitis.
** If you tend to be someone who is more prone to clogged ducts, it may be a good idea to take a supplement preventatively while traveling. I like this one best because it is Choline-based and Lecithin free.
-If you find yourself engorged and uncomfortable because baby is off of their schedule, you can pump, if you brought your pump, or hand express, if you didn't, to comfort. We don't want to pump or hand express until empty or we will be telling your body to make more milk. This technique is also useful so that your body can start to regulate your milk supply to the new schedule.
Traveling without baby
-Bring your pump, pumping supplies, and extra supplies just in case.
-Bring a cooler for expressed milk
-If you can, bring along an extra set of pumping supplies in case you can't wash them. If bringing an extra set along isn't possible and don't have a way to wash the parts, you can use the refrigerator or cooler trick: by keeping that parts nice and cold in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator or cooler, they can be used for one more pumping session.
**Not recommend for premature or immunocompromised babies
-Pump right before your flight takes off. (Airports typically have pumping/feeding stations specifically for lactating parents.)
-If you're on a long flight and will be missing a feeding, you can bring either a wearable pump or use a battery operated pump in the bathroom on the plane if pumping in your seat is uncomfortable.
-In a perfect world, when separated from baby, you would want to pump or express milk in the same frequency your baby would be eating.
-Freshly expressed milk can stay cold in a cooler bag for up to 24 hours.
-Frozen expressed milk can be re-frozen as long as there are still ice crystals in the milk.
-In the USA TSA will allow you to carry all expressed breastmilk. When going through security, let them know that you are carrying breastmilk and separate it from any other liquids.
-Having a printed copy of TSA's rules on expressed milk can help decrease anxiety going through security.
Traveling doesn't have to be put on-hold just because you are breast/chestfeeding and can be enjoyed with or without your baby present. Preparing for travel and knowing your rights when traveling can help ease anxiety and make travel more relaxing.
I hope this guide helps and as always reach out with any questions to me or your local IBCLC.
Kelsey RN, BSN, IBCLC