Pumping & Flying with Breastmilk
What should you pack? Will TSA hassle you about breastmilk? Where will you pump?
What about pumping and flying?
Have no fear – many breastfeeding moms have been down this road before. Here is some of the favorite advice for breastfeeding moms who need to pump while traveling:
- Pump on baby’s schedule: The key to a successful trip is replicating baby’s nursing schedule. Review your travel itinerary and build in extra time before departure or during layovers to pump when baby would have nursed.
- Pack smart to avoid anxiety: Prepare for the worst case scenario. Bring extra pumping supplies, extra batteries, and extra clothes.
- Do pre-departure preparations: Two weeks before the trip, prepare by squeezing in some extra pumping sessions so you have extra expressed milk to leave behind. Leave more milk than you think the baby will need.
- Find a place to pump: Try to nurse baby at the breast before you leave for the airport. If you would normally breastfeed when you’re at the airport (either checking in, on layover, or when you’ve landed), find out if the airport has a nursing lounge. Sometimes airlines will offer day passes to their lounges, giving you a clean and discreet place to pump. Do your research BEFORE you get to the airport, and don’t be afraid to ask airport employees once you get there.
- Arrange for a window seat: Using a nursing cover and a manual breast pump, or a double electric breast pump with batteries, you will be able to discreetly pump without other passengers or crew even noticing.
- Storage: Small coolers with ice packs are great for short trips. Once you arrive at your destination, store the milk in a fridge. (Ask in advance if your hotel room has a mini fridge). While traveling back, keep the milk on frozen cooler packs.
- Stay healthy: Drink plenty of water, eat as well as you can, and get enough rest while you are away.
- Check the TSA Guidelines: Know the TSA regulations about flying with breast milk. Build in extra time to go through security with pumped milk. Be prepared to answer questions about how long you’ve been away and how often you’ve pumped so agents can verify you’re telling the truth about the amount of liquid you have.
What about breastfeeding and flying?
According to our resident expert Molly Petersen, Certified Lactation Counselor, "consider breastfeeding during takeoff and landing. The change in air pressure when taking off and landing in an airplane can cause your ears to pop and even discomfort. The same goes for little ones. Breastfeeding during takeoff and landing can help ease this potentially stressful situation. Breastfeeding is soothing for baby and is likely to help them stay calm. Also swallowing while nursing can help equalize the pressure in baby’s ears."
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