How to Deal with Breast Milk while Traveling
Traveling after having a baby is definitely a whole new kind of adventure. The first concern that should come to mind is how to feed your little one, especially if you’re pumping. Whether you are exclusively pumping, traveling without your baby and need to keep up with your supply, or just want to bring a bottle or two for the ride: here is what you can do to make your traveling (particularly flying) experience easier.
Don’t check your pump.
It is not worth the risk! Airlines are notoriously hard on checked bags and having a broken expensive pump will cause unnecessary stress. Even with it as a carry on, it is always safe to bring a manual pump with you (just in case!). The best news is that a pump does not count as a carry-on item but rather a medical device, so you can still have a normal carry on and personal item if it’s part of the airline’s policy. It may be smart double check what you’re allowed to carry on with your specific airline since this is always changing.
Invest in good accessories.
Accessories are key. Things like a good pump carrier, cooler, ice packs, extra bottles, a water kettle (if you need to heat milk for your little one), and storage bags will keep you on top of your breast pumping game. What exactly you will need depends of course on how long of a trip you are taking. You’ll need a much bigger cooler if you’re gone for a weekend versus a week!
If bringing milk, try to only bring what you need. However, flying can be unpredictable so also be prepared. Try to find a balance so that you don’t have milk that goes to waste but you also keep your baby fed if needed! Try to bring your milk frozen (unless you plan on using it immediately), as this will cause less of a hassle with security. Plus, it can be refrozen when you arrive at your destination as long as there is one piece of ice left in the bag!
Allow extra time in security.
Security can be tricky. Make sure you declare your breast milk and your travels will definitely have a better start! You will most likely need to go through some extra screens, which is totally normal. However, don’t let anyone claim they need to open your milk bags and request that they use gloves to keep your items sanitary. There are always horror stories about women going through security, so if you can remember bring TSA guidelines with you (a screenshot on your phone can work too) to reference. Some employees simply aren’t aware of the rules so it helps if you know your rights!
The 3-ounce rule.
Quantities of your breast milk can be more than 3 ounces per container. There is no specific restriction here. TSA only states that it should be a “reasonable” amount. On the other hand, if you bring ice or an ice pack in your cooler they ARE subject to the 3-ounce rule, so plan accordingly. You can even have dry ice if it is specifically for breast milk. Some people don’t want to deal with ice at security and simply ask for ice at a restaurant when they get inside the security gates. If you are returning from a trip with milk and don’t want to deal with any of these rules, look into courier options like Milk Stork to overnight your milk back home.
Find a place with a freezer.
When booking a hotel make sure they have a freezer you can use. Call ahead if you aren’t sure. Ideally, there will be one in your room (some fridges can even get cold enough). However, you may be able to use the hotel’s main freezer if there is no other option. If you’re struggling with hotels, booking an entire place on sites like Airbnb may be a great option since the majority of them would standardly provide a freezer in their kitchen.
Stay calm and carry on.
You’re an awesome mom for being committed to your baby’s health by providing breast milk! Follow these steps, do the best you can, and all will be good! Traveling can be stressful, which can affect your supply. Being prepared will make your trip significantly more enjoyable. If you are struggling with supply, use of your pump or any other details related to breastfeeding don’t hesitate to check out other blog articles here or talk to a specialist at Spectra Baby USA.
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