One of the top concerns for breastfeeding moms who travel away from their baby is whether or not they will relatch when they return. Another valid concern is if they’ll be able to keep their regular nursing routine. As a mom who has traveled apart from her small nursing baby, I can tell you that I too shared those same concerns.
Back when I first started researching tips and suggestions for this area of life, the results were few, far, and between. Fast forward a decade, and there are tons of resources and support – including this post. Here are my best tips for being away from your baby while breastfeeding.
Related: Breastfeeding Tips to Encourage Breastfeeding Moms
Best Tips for Breastfeeding Moms Who Travel Away from Their Baby
Before diving into my tips for breastfeeding moms who travel, I first want to say that the overall goal is to maintain your level of milk production. Stress can often cause your supply to deplete, so remaining calm and comfortable should be a top priority. With this in mind…
Stock your freezer.
Since you’ll be leaving your little one in the care of someone else, make sure your refrigerator and freezer are stocked with milk. You don’t want your caretaker to run out and be forced to use something else. Start pumping and storing bags of milk well in advance to prevent a shortage or stress to try and have enough set aside for the duration of your travels.
Related: Maintaining Breast Milk Supply While Traveling Without My Breastfed Baby
Keep your trip schedule and itinerary in mind.
Knowing where you are going, the mode of transportation, how long it will take to arrive, and what your schedule will be like when you arrive will help you plan for times to pump. This will also give you an idea of how and where to store your pumped milk.
Make sure you have all the necessary gear.
To keep your breastfeeding schedule smooth and ongoing, make sure to pack your pump, the adapter (if necessary), milk storage bags, insulated bags, a nursing cover, and whatever else you’d normally use. Keep all these items in their own designated bag so they do not get lost or misplaced. Clearly mark the bag both for your reference and just in case it does get lost.
Related: Breastfeeding Tips: Know the Basics of Pumping Breast Milk
Stay consistent with pumping while you’re away from your baby.
You may have heard of the “pump and dump” method, but I highly recommend staying clear of that (unless it’s for medical reasons). You can continue saving and storing your milk even while you’re traveling. Try to commit to the same schedule as if you were with your baby. This means packing plenty of breastmilk storage bags and having the resources to keep them stored properly.
Research and gather your storage solutions ahead of time.
Speaking of storing your breastmilk properly, make sure you bring lots of ice packs. In addition, make sure your place of lodging has a refrigerator and/or freezer for storing your milk. Some places will provide an extra refrigerator. If not, be prepared with a small to a medium-sized cooler.
Be prepared for bringing your milk home.
If you will be traveling via airplane, research the airline policies regarding breast milk. You may also need to print documentation to show the TSA agents. Take into consideration the extra weight you will be traveling back with, such as cooler or bags filled with ice packs, full breastmilk bags, and the like. Depending on your mode of travel, you may be able to keep your milk with you or consider shipping it home. If you’ll be traveling with your breastmilk, make the frozen milk the last thing you pack before you leave to return home.
Whatever you do, remain calm. Take extra measures to keep you and your baby from getting overwhelmed. Consider face-timing with your baby at least once a day. You can also carry a picture of your baby and give one to him/her to hold onto while you’re gone. Also, give your baby a piece of your clothing so he/she can have your scent. Use the tips mentioned above to keep your milk supply intact and the time apart stressless.
Please note: For the latest travel health information, please view your State Department’s website at travel.state.gov and the CDC’s information at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.