If you are a new mom hitting the road for the first time, there are certainly some things to consider. Road trips and flying in an airplane are a headache by themselves, but pumping or nursing while on the go is a whole new beast. There isn't always a private place to nurse or pump, and sticking to your pumping schedule may seem like a chore. Take a look at these simple pumping while traveling tips and make your trip easier. Consider when, where and how you are traveling and check out these handy tips from our friends at Hello Postpartum.
A Hands-Free Breast Pump
While you are traveling, one of the last things you want to do is hold onto your pump while you express milk in an airport or public space. A hands-free pump allows you to hook up and do your business without thinking about germs. Not to mention, you can manage other things (toddlers, luggage, and even driving) while you pump.
You might consider using a hands-free breast pump like the Willow. It fits directly into your bra, so you can wear it around the airport. You won't have difficulty carting your luggage because you will be completely hands-free. Not to mention, it means one less thing to lug around (diaper bags, carry-on, stroller, etc).
Milk catchers are another great idea because they catch milk from one breast while you nurse on the other side. This will also save you from having to change your shirt if you do leak.
A Leak-Resistant Bra
We all know that while breastfeeding, leakage happens. It's a fact. Prevent wet spots on your attire as you travel with a leak-resistant bra. The padding keeps the excess milk contained, so you don't have to worry about looking like a fool.
Use The Dairy Fair Pumping and Nursing Bras to stay protected and comfortable while you use your electric pump out and about. They accommodate all breast pump parts and give your breasts easy access.
A Nursing Poncho
There are tons of nursing cover-ups on the market. These nursing ponchos aren't only for nursing mothers but for pumping people as well. If you don't feel comfortable letting your boobies free in public, use a poncho or nursing cover to keep things private. Some airports and public areas have lactation rooms or nursing rooms, but it's rare. Look for nursing or pumping pods or rooms just in case.
A Travel Pump Cleaning Kit
At home, it's easy to clean your pump parts and hang them up to dry on your kitchen counter. While traveling, you won't have this luxury. Use a travel-sized drying rack or sanitized dish towel to dry your parts once in your hotel room or at your final destination. It's the best way to keep things clean while traveling without packing the whole kitchen sink.
Pump Wipes for a Quick Clean
Depending on where you are while traveling, you may be unable to rinse or wash your parts with soap and water. If this is the case, use Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes to quickly wipe things down and prevent bacteria build-up. Most of these wipes are unscented and alcohol/bleach free. You'll be able to clean your pump shields, valves, and membranes super speedy without searching for soap and water. Not only are they great for pump parts, but they also work well to wipe down changing tables, high chairs, and toys.
A Cooler Bag
This is by far one of the most important things you need to have on hand when pumping on the go. Once you have pumped, you need somewhere to store your fresh milk. If you are staying at a hotel, call ahead and ensure your room has a mini fridge you can access and store your milk supply. The cooler bag will allow you to pump and store your milk next to ice packs or cold packs until you can get them in a fridge. Many cooler bags are built with an ice pack in the seam, so you can fold them flat and freeze them overnight for the next days use.
Check out these guidelines about milk storage if you are curious.
A Way to Ship Milk Home
If you have a short trip planned (about 4 days), it's best to keep your milk refrigerated instead of frozen. If your frozen milk thaws during travel, you'll have to use it up within 24 hours. For longer trips, you might consider packing it up with dry ice and shipping it home. A company called Milk Stork has a convenient way to ship your milk straight back home. They send you a cooler, you pack your liquid gold in it, and send it back with a pre-paid label. The cooler has 72 hours of refrigeration without relying on gel packs.
Bring an External Battery Pack
If you can, purchase a battery pack that you can plug your portable breast pump into. Some pumps require a charge, and others use batteries. Having an external battery pack will ensure you always have some type of energy to run your pumps. If you're nervous one of them won't work along the way, don't hesitate to bring a manual breast pump for emergencies.
Pack Extra Pump Parts
Depending on where you are traveling and for how long, you might want to bring spare pump parts. This is a good idea in case some of your parts break or stops working. It's also helpful, so you don't have to clean the parts as often. Alternate between two sets of flanges and membranes (the circle or duckbill part) to make life a little easier.
This is a friendly reminder to replace your pump parts if you haven’t done so recently. If you’re an exclusive pumper, you will want to replace your flanges and membranes every two months to maintain optimal milk retrieval.
In case you’re wondering, TSA will allow more than 3 oz of breastmilk, as well as a pump and cooler bag, and diaper bag, without them being added as carry-on items. This may vary depending on your airline, but TSA will allow the breastmilk and pump since the pump is considered a medical device.
Whether on a work trip or headed out on a family vacation, use these tips and tricks, so you don't have to pump or breastfeed in an airplane bathroom. Hopefully, these tips make cleaning pump parts and using them a breeze during your pumping session on the go.