Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pumping while Traveling

I have just returned from my first out of town trip since returning to work from maternity leave.  I traveled to Minneapolis for 3 days for work and then met my husband in Boston for the weekend so I was gone a total of 5 days.  I have traveled before when my older daughter was still nursing, so I have a little experience with traveling while pumping, so I wanted to share what has worked well for me here.

One of the most important things is preparation, knowing what to bring, knowing where you can pump, and knowing how you are going to store and transport your milk.


For my trip I brought my Medela Freetime, this pump was perfect for travel because I could easily stick it in my purse or computer bag.  It is very light and does not take up a lot of room.  I also brought along my strapless pumping bra, 25 storage bags (I actually used 24), 6 bottles, one freezer pack and a bottle brush.  I wish I would have put some dish soap in a travel size container, but I had to make do without.  I was able to put all of this in my suitcase for the flight and then I transported my supplied between the hotel and office in my computer bag. 

Location, Location, Location!

About a week prior to my departure I did some planning to make sure I would have access to a pumping location.  I contacted the office that I would be working in to inquire about the lactation room location and how I could get access to it.  I also did some research on if the airports I would be going through had facilities for nursing mothers (check out this listing for airport accommodations).  I was really impressed with the private facilities at the Minneapolis airport but less than excited that a lot of other airports only offer “family bathrooms”.  At the Boston airport, it was suggested to me to use a wheelchair in the bathroom to sit in, which made it slightly less awful.
Storage of Milk

Prior to my trip, I made sure that the hotel either had a refrigerator in the room or was able to provide one.  Most of the time they will provide it for free but some hotels do charge a fee (you could also maybe use the minibar for storage).  Any milk that I pumped in the hotel stayed in my hotel fridge and any milk that I pumped in the office stayed in the office refrigerator.  After pumping each time I transferred all milk into storage bags.  I put less milk in than the bags could accommodate so that I would not have any problems with the pressure change while in flight.

Transporting your Milk

I also requested assistance from an administrative assistant in the local office to procure the supplies necessary to ship my milk home.  I am very fortunate to work for a company that will pay for all reasonable costs to transport my milk back home.  For me this means that I was able to ship in an insulated box with dry ice and send the box overnight.  The assistant contacted UPS who provided both the box as well as the dry ice.  It can get expensive depending on if the delivery is a weekend, etc. so I am grateful to have a company that is very supportive of nursing mothers and will pay for it.  If you are organizing the shipment on your own, using a Styrofoam cooler and buying dry ice from a local grocery store is a good option (I would call around to local grocery stores before leaving to ensure this is a viable option).  If you can’t get dry ice while out of town, using freezer packs is also an option.  For the second leg of my trip I transported my milk back by putting it in a cardboard box with the freezer pack.  I checked the box with my luggage and when I got home (8 hours later) the milk was still cold and the freezer pack was mostly frozen.  
First Shipment of Milk
 Know your rights!

This trip I did not go through TSA with milk but I have in the past.  One of the most important things is to know your rights about traveling with your pump and milk.  The most important things to remember are:

1.      You are not limited in the amount of breast milk you can carry on
2.      Let an agent know that you have breast milk on you
3.      You cannot be required to show them how the pump works
4.      You cannot be required to have you or your baby taste the breast milk
5.      They may perform a test for explosives on your milk

A little preparation will make traveling while pumping easier and ensure that you are able to continue to provide your baby with breast milk.

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1 comment:

  1. Ok, the wheelchair in the handicap bathroom is genius. I def sat on a toilet in a tiny little stall in the denver airport (with my first) with my pump hanging on the purse hook on the door. It was awesome...

    That same trip the hotel (actually the whole town- small town) also lost power so I sat in the car in the parking deck pumping one morning with my car adapter. (I only had so many batteries and wanted to save them for the bathroom stall on the trip home)

    The things mother's do...