Breastfeeding & Pumping While Traveling
The first time I traveled while breastfeeding was when Safia was 2-months-old. My midwife told me breastfeeding would help the baby's ears and keep her from getting sick (immunity through the breastmilk). It was also a good way to get her to sleep through most of the flight.
Babies that young sleep a lot anyway, and the hum of the plane + breastfeeding knocks them out. I've never been one to use covers to breastfeed but for my first time flying I wore a shawl that I draped over part of Safia's head, creating a half tent so we could see each other.
Breastfeeding is not necessarily easy, but one thing I loved about it while traveling is you don't need anything at all, especially on a plane (no bottles, formula, water. Just wear breast pads for the leakage). You have food for your baby wherever. Note: Let's just get this out of the way before moving on, forget about "breastfed is best" if you can't breastfeed, fed is best. There's a myriad of reasons why some women can't, or choose not to breastfeed. Do what's best for you and your baby.
I formula feed now as Safia is 9-months-old and eats solids. I couldn't find the time to pump at work, she stopped demanding milk as much when I would come home, and I was mostly producing at night. I couldn't take her waking up every few hours still for comfort anymore, and it wasn't good for her to wake up so much (we co-sleep). But I do have nine months of breastfeeding + traveling under my belt, so I'll be sharing my top tips for that & pumping.
Breastfeeding while traveling
Breastfeeding while traveling presents the same challenge as breastfeeding anytime you leave your house – where to do it and how. Like if your baby is crying for milk in the middle of the street. I've breastfed while crouched on the ground of a crowded Starbucks while people stood all around me because we'd gotten out of a cab to a chilly, windy day near the Statue of Liberty ferry, Safia was crying for milk, and there were no tables available. I was wearing a sweater that I had to lift up for all to see. You gotta do what you gotta do!
I've had to breastfeed in bathrooms sometimes, sitting on the toilet seat. On that same trip we were at an Irish pub watching a soccer game with Usef's friends and I didn't feel comfortable pulling out my boob at their booth. That can be stressful. I would sometimes break out in postpartum sweats while trying to find a place to breastfeed as the baby was crying for milk. And then there were times later, when she was 4-months-old, where I was like IDGAF. Like when we were in the middle of sightseeing in Chichén Itza. This photo that Usef snapped went viral on Facebook, with so many mothers celebrating the moment. Baby's needs come first❣️
Here's what I recommend you carry if you're breastfeeding while traveling:
✔️ A shawl/nursing cover
✔️ Snacks and water at all times
✔️ Breast pads for leakage
✔️Travel size nipple salve (if you get sore)
✔️A hand pump for when you're too full
✔️Lactation supplements or cookies
I nearly always wore clothes with easy access to my breasts, whether a V-cut or off the shoulder dress or a crop top shirt or sweater. I never bought nursing clothes because they're overpriced and ugly but did use these nursing/pumping bras.
Pumping while traveling
There's moms who have to pump because they're separated from their baby while traveling, often for work, and have to send milk home. There's services out there to help you do that, like this, this, and this.
I always brought my travel pump with me in case I needed to empty full breasts or stimulate more supply, but rarely used it. I thought I might pump in the morning and bring a bottle when we'd go sightseeing, but that never really happened either. So I would pack my pump but never use it.
Alternatively the haakaa pump is amazing for two reasons: 1) It's even smaller to pack and easier to bring out with you for the day, 2) and you can suction it onto your breasts to relieve some pressure if you're too full, or if you want to collect the extra milk that drips out of your alternate breast while feeding, to bottle up for later. Don't let a drop waste!
I recommend you carry the things I listed above + these if pumping while traveling:
✔️Your pump and accessories (of course)
✔️A reusable wet/dry bag for your parts. I had this one
✔️Dishwashing block soap
✔️Milk storage bags
✔️A resusable cooler bag. I had this one
✔️A cold shipping package (if sending milk home)
Let me know in the comments below if you have further questions about any of this 💫