Tips for Longer-Term Breastfeeding and Pumping While Traveling
When the time comes to travel overnight without your little one, we have a few tips to help you balance breast milk feeding with occasional time away. You've got this!
Best Practices for Pumping While Traveling and Continued Breastfeeding
By now, you’ve probably perfected the art of balancing breast milk feeding, working, and other responsibilities in your life. However, even a longer-term breastfeeding mom may suddenly feel thrown for a loop if and when the time arises that she needs to travel overnight without her little one – whether for work, an occasion or event for a loved one, or even a parents-only weekend away. Though you may have already greatly reduced your pumping sessions in an effort to wean from the pump while maintaining a nursing relationship with your little one, your breast pump will come in especially handy when traveling without him or her. This is because your milk is produced on a supply and demand basis, so the more that it is expressed – whether by nursing, pumping, or a combination of both – then the more that your body will make to keep up with the demand. So, if you’ve already mostly weaned from your breast pump but still nurse your little one, being away from him or her for an extended period can pose a unique challenge! While your breasts are amazing, they don’t know how long it’ll be before your baby nurses again, so they’ll continue to produce milk that you’ll need to express to avoid engorgement and discomfort.
Here are a few ways to manage pumping while traveling, so you can maintain your milk supply and continue nursing your older baby or toddler:
- Pack a manual breast pump for small jobs. A handheld breast pump like the Harmony® is a super-convenient, travel-friendly option for occasional pumping while away from your little one. Best of all, it’s manual (non-electric) for easy pumping on a plane, in the car, or in a pinch if there is not an outlet readily available – and it doesn’t need to be charged ahead of time. Harmony also comes with a PersonalFit Flex™ breast shield, which is designed to optimize pumping comfort and milk flow - giving you more milk faster!
Be sure to have plenty of supplies on hand and easily accessible, such as breast milk storage bags, a cooler set (if you’re not near a fridge or freezer), and Quick Clean™ wipes or spray for convenient clean-up. And remember, once you get to your destination, it’s important to continue following the CDC guidelines for cleaning your breast pump parts whenever possible.
Be sure to also brush up on the most current breast milk storage guidelines in English or Spanish, as well as travel recommendations for breastfeeding parents from the CDC and the TSA’s procedures for traveling with breast milk. Knowing policies ahead of time and what to expect when flying with pumped milk can help you be extra-prepared, so there’s no confusion at the airport and you don’t lose any of that precious liquid gold!
- Find out if milk shipping is an option. Depending on the length of your trip, how far you are traveling, and the accessibility you may have – such as to a freezer, which can make it easier to store your pumped breast milk and then bring it back with you on your trip home – you may consider milk shipping as you continue pumping while traveling. Milk Stork makes the process as convenient as possible and may be a great place to start, if this is an option for you. Finally, if you are traveling for work purposes, find out if milk shipping is something that can be expensed or reimbursed as part of your travel obligation.
- Temporarily nurse more frequently once back at home. If you’re concerned about your breast milk supply dipping – even if you’re pumping while traveling – or if you’ve noticed a decrease despite your best efforts to avoid a reduction, be sure to temporarily increase your one-on-one nursing sessions with your little one after returning home. Though it may take a few days or longer for your body to catch up, frequent and consistent nursing is one of the best ways to get your breast milk supply back to where it was before your trip. It’s also a great way to reconnect with your little one after some time apart! Best of all, you can feed him or her any pumped milk you were able to ship or bring home with you during your travels, so he or she is still getting plenty of your liquid gold as your supply catches back up.
Longer-term breastfeeding is a unique time, with especially unique challenges – but with a little preparation and the tools you need, traveling and maintaining your milk supply can be done! Even if you’ve mostly weaned from your breast pump, keeping one on hand – giving you the ability for pumping while traveling – can help you maintain your milk supply while away, so you can continue nursing your little one for exactly as long as you choose.