Whether traveling with baby or away from baby, nursing mothers often have questions about the best way to store and transport breastmilk. Here, WanderLittles presents the 411 on traveling with your liquid gold:
pumping and transporting
The good news: breastmilk is considered by the TSA to be a "medically-required liquid," so no worrying about that 3-oz liquid nonsense. Security may test your milk, or you can take it through frozen and get ice from flight attendants or airport restaurants, or even bring along dry ice. Don't forget a good cooler (consider a backpack one if your hands will be full, or one that is designed to fit inside some pump bags), and to check that your hotel has a mini-fridge or that your vacation rental does have a refrigerator.
Medically required liquids, such as baby formula and food, breast milk and medications are allowed in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight. It is not necessary to place medically required liquids in a zip-top bag. However, you must tell the Transportation Security Officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the screening checkpoint process. Medically required liquids will be subjected to additional screening that could include being asked to open the container. We recommend, but do not require, that medication be labeled to facilitate the security process. Many airports have designated lanes for families and individuals with items requiring additional assistance with screening. "
Pumping and traveling in other countries? In the UK, you cannot carry on without a baby unless bottles hold 100ml or less and no more than 1000ml total.
If you will be pumping on the road or in the airport, don't forget to get a good power source such as this to avoid outlet-finding issues, or bring extra batteries if yours uses them.
For pumping mamas flying internationally who need a power supply, before you leave, read the info printed on the piece you plug into the wall. The USA uses 110 voltage but most other countries, especially SE Asia, Pacific and Mid East use 220 voltage. The power cord will say what voltage your pump can handle. If it can't take 220, hop on Amazon and get yourself a converter. This will "step down" the voltage to your pump and save it from burning out. Also don't forget to get a universal adapter to fit all the funny plug configurations you'll find when you are traveling around. Here is a good one for UK-EU-Australia.
If you will be away from baby (for work or for, JEALOUS GASP!, fun!) consider taking a lecithin supplement as pumps often do not empty your breasts like baby does, and lecithin may help prevent clogged ducts. Per Kellymom, it should be noted that high doses of lecithin (the max dosage is 50 mg/day) may cause depression.
If you need to pump on board the plane, you can use a nursing cover so as not to feel exposed. And don't worry about the embarrassing loud noise that a pump makes!! I was very concerned about this but found that it couldn't be heard at all above the sound of the engines :-)
JoDee says: Be sure to look up the TSA guidelines for bringing medically necessary baby items. Expect to spend more time than usual at security. They will wipe your items and put through a special scanner in order to determine if they are permissible.
You may also want to take a look at a travel bottle warmer for heating bottles. I like the Philips Avent travel warmer. It is a large plastic cup with a lid that contains a thermos. You have the flight attendant fill the thermos with their boiling water, then you can pour some in the plastic cup, insert bottle and close the lid. This item was a lifesaver on our Singapore/DFW trip with our 12 week old. Another product recommended for forumla moms are the Tommee Tippee individual formula dispensers. You do not want to be scooping powder while you're holding boiling water in your lap.
Finally, don't expect the flight attendants to put your breastmilk in the plane refrigerators. I've heard of it happening, but had no luck with it myself. Cooler bags are permitted by TSA, so plan to bring one if you have expressed milk. I froze my milk for our long haul trip and kept it in a cooler. By the time one had thawed, it was ready to eat. The rest of the time, I gave her formula.
SECRET WORD FOR THE TRAVEL NURSING PILLOW GIVEAWAY: COMMUNITY. :)
Mel says: I think if you are nursing while travelling you are actually at a great advantage! No bottles, sterilizing equipment or formula to lug about with you . . . not to mention there's no risk of running out!!! The biggest issue to face is the risk of unsympathetic fellow passengers, or feeling embarrassed about nursing in a public space. To avoid both of these, I would choose my outfit carefully so as not to feel exposed. Nursing tops are great as you are readily accessible and also discreet, or you could use something like the Undercover Mama Nursing Tank. I would also pack a scarf and nursing cover so that baby can nurse privately on board the plane.
WanderLittles is also proud to soon be presenting our exclusive WanderLittles airport nursing room locator! It is still growing, especially with your help, and we hope to be adding more information daily!
WanderLittles has WanderBIG love for
Mamava, the design company launching "comfortable lactation pods" in airports across the country (goodbye, days of sitting on a toilet!). Here is a great article on the subect.
JoDee says: Singapore is outstanding when it comes to baby care. See here an index that ranks all of the malls and their facilities: http://bumblebeemum.net/nursing-rooms/
Changi Airport: Very family friendly. You'll find outlets, internet access, hot water dispensers, changing tables, nursing rooms, and super clean toilets.
JoDee says: Incheon International Airport: Excellent baby care room that includes: a weighing scale, a nursing room, a bottle sterilizer, 2 changing tables, a boiling/cold water dispenser, a sink, a breastfeeding pillow and a long bench that is perfect for laying your stuff out. Its open 24h/day and is free of charge.
Argentinian Parliament member Victoria Donda Perez may be our hero for nursing her baby on the job, but not every country is so open. WanderLittles is hoping to compile its own first-hand guide to nursing etiquette. So far, we can tell you:
"In Dubai, breastfeeding is highly encouraged (they tried to pass a law requiring mothers to nurse their babies for 1 year minimum) however please consider that the culture is extremely modest. If you are out and need to nurse most major attractions have lovely nursing rooms despite typically being located in or adjacent to bathrooms. The ones at Dubai mall have large velvet couches for example. I know in the USA public nursing is a hot issue but please consider the customs and values of the culture of the area, and if you aren't able to nurse in the privacy of your own room please excuse yourself to nurse and keep covered out of respect."
Steph tells us, "No issues with breastfeeding in Hong Kong but generally try to avoid open public areas, like parks. And be as discreet as you can be out of respect for the locals. I rarely nursed in public (hello, twins!) but if absolutely necessary I always used my cover and tried to be indoors."
Australia: Cally tell us that they are very open about breastfeeding in Sydney, so feel free to nurse baby anywhere (within reason), with or without cover.
What can you all add to this? Let us know in the comments!