My husband and I took a five-day vacation without our 16-month old, whom I was currently breastfeeding. I was nervous leaving my Sugar Plum for such a long time, and I was also fearful my supply would suffer. Before my trip I researched online about other moms, mainly moms who traveled for business, maintaining their supplies while away from the baby for days at a time. Although I did not come across many women who took trips away from their breastfeeding child for a period longer than 2-3 days, any insight into the matter helps.
What I Learned About Traveling Without My Breastfed Baby
- Pumping consistently and as frequently as you would if you were nursing your child
- Drink lots of fluids
- Take galactagogues (fenugreek tea or capsules, Mother’s Milk tea, More Milk Plus)
- Relax & try not to worry
- Carrying pictures of the baby
- How to store the milk to bring back
What Hurt Me the Most?
Being away from her wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. I was sad of course the first few days. I wasn’t at all worried because I knew she was in good hands, that is, of course until two days into my trip we learned my father had passed. That is when I began to worry. Good thing I have a pretty good network of family and friends who were able to step up and step in when I was out of the country.
Back to what hurt me the most while traveling without my breastfed baby… Throwing away over 40 oz per day of milk!!! There were times I hesitated pouring the milk into the sink after I had pumped. Before I had left, I searched to see if I would be able to donate my milk while in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and was basically shut down. I had no other option than to discard it.
How Did I Manage to Pump So Often & Where?
Okay, in the beginning, I tried sticking to our normal schedule, which is 7 a.m., 11 a.m 2 p.m 5/6 p.m, and so on. When you are out and about, and there were sometimes nowhere I would be able to pump in peace, I’d have to wait until we returned to our condo. Otherwise, I would pump in a bathroom. I’d say I didn’t go more than 4 hours in between each session. Thankfully, my supply did not suffer (too much).
Breastfeeding Tips: Know the Basics of Pumping Breast Milk
On the plane, I used my Medela Harmony. Lord! Using my Medela Pump Instyle Advance has spoiled me so. The handwork that goes into getting what would normally take me 10 minutes to get out took what seemed like forever!!! I was able to discreetly use the Harmony, hidden under my jacket. It made no noise, unlike the Pump Instyle Advance. Plus, during the early flight, everyone was sleeping. Also, sitting near the window helped with the level of discretion.
Bringing Back Breast Milk
I was nervous about bringing milk back. I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to bring, and whether or not the TSA would give me trouble. Fortunately, I ended up bringing back a ton of milk. I would say I saved milk from the last 2 days in Puerto Vallarta, as well as the day we spent traveling back. I had a lot!
Breastfeeding: Tips For Maintaining your Milk Supply
Storing the milk was pretty easy. Instead of leaving them in the bottles, I brought storage bags with me since they take up less space. I had a cooler and two of the Medela icepacks, as well as some Ziploc freezer bags just in case I needed to fill them with extra ice.
I placed the milk in between each bag, making sure the bags stayed as close to the icepacks as possible. Added some ice to the ziplock since all of the milk wouldn’t fit into the bag. After it was packed I put it in my carry-on. We were off.
I had no trouble at the airport. I had written a note on my cooler bag that read “Esto es la Leche de materna.” That’s it. The only issue I had was at LaGuardia airport when the TSA agent wanted to look through my pump bag. That’s when I made him change his gloves. He obliged. No, sir, you are not touching what I make my daughter’s food with, with those gloves you’ve touched who knows what else with.