We know that breastfeeding in itself is no easy feat, so breastfeeding while traveling presents even more obstacles for feeding your little one. From people, vehicles, airports, equipment, cleaning and more, we’ve compiled a list of what to expect and tips to ensure smooth and safe travels for both you and baby.
What to Expect with People
We’ve all heard horror stories or seen videos of strangers trying to shame moms for breastfeeding their babies in public, and while it would be wise for strangers to keep their opinions to themselves, some don’t. That said, be mindful that different states and different businesses have different regulations on breastfeeding. If possible, try to look these up ahead of time and plan accordingly.
As long as you are not breaking any regulations, no one has the right to tell you where you can or can’t breastfeed your baby. If you will be sitting next to someone on a plane or somewhere else, let them know ahead of time that you intend to breastfeed—this will allow them time to make a seat change if there are any issues.
Breastfeeding in Public: Basics
If you have experience with breastfeeding, you’re probably well-acquainted with what to wear and what to bring with you to ensure you and baby are comfortable throughout your trip. However, if this is experience is new to you, you may want to bring something to cover you to provide you and your baby privacy while breastfeeding. It can come in handy when trying to minimize distractions from nosy people and crowded places. The material of blanket or shawl should be light and breathable enough to provide you and your baby comfort.
Layers are nice, but be sure you can easily remove or open the front portion of your blouse, shirt or sweater to allow your baby access to your breasts. Button-down blouses or ones with zippers are particularly useful. Some moms may use traditional bras while others prefer special breastfeeding bras or nursing camisoles which unclasp so that top removal is not necessary.
Our advice is to experiment with different types of bras and tops prior to decide what you’re comfortable in prior your trip. Pack your favorite breastfeeding bras, camisoles and tops so that you have clothing options that you know will be most comfortable when the time comes to breastfeed your baby.
What Else to Bring
Although cumbersome, traveling with your breast pump and breast milk is allowed in the United States. If you’re traveling by plane, alert security that you are traveling with a pump and/or milk and place these items in their own carry-on bin to make the process as smooth as possible.
When packing, be sure to make a supplies checklist of all the items you’ll need to pump and properly store breast milk. You may want to include extra batteries, ice packs and milk storage containers in your carry-on in case of travel delays and damaged or misplaced luggage.
Take-Off on Planes
Plane take-offs can be extra harsh on little ears. If possible, try to time your feedings so that baby can eat while you take off—the swallowing action helps to relieve ear pressure. If your baby is still fussy upon landing, try breastfeeding to relieve any remaining pressure.
Traveling by Vehicle
If you plan on pumping breastmilk in a vehicle during your trip, we recommend purchasing an inverter for electric breast pumps. Before purchasing, be sure to check the voltage needed for your specific breast pump. Some inverters connect directly to your vehicle’s battery offering a higher amount of voltage, and others that offer less voltage can be plugged into the car’s DC power socket.
If you don’t want to pump while in your vehicle, try to map out locations ahead of time where you can stop along your route. Be prepared to stop often to breastfeed or pump so that your milk supply doesn’t dwindle.
Traveling to Foreign Countries
If you’re planning a trip abroad, research foreign laws on breastfeeding ahead of time. Different cultures have different attitudes on breastfeeding. Also, be sure to bring an adapter or converter for your breast pump so it will work at your final destination.
Try to avoid using tap water from public bathrooms to clean your breast pump or supplies. Instead, use bottled water to clean all of your breast pump parts and store them safely inside a sealable bag. Paper towels can help with drying the parts before putting them in a bag. When you are able to properly clean your breast pump, use hot, soapy water and allow it to air dry in a clean area.
Ameda electric breast pumps feature the only FDA approved viral barrier designed to keep your breastmilk contaminate free and purely yours, so that you never have to worry about cleaning or drying your breast pump tubing.
At the Airport
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), there is no limit on the quantity of breast milk you can bring aboard; however, they do encourage traveling mothers to only bring the amount of breast milk necessary for that particular trip. Be sure to notify security of both your breast milk and breast pump at the security checkpoint. Research ahead of time to make sure you are within all regulations about transporting breastmilk.
- Bring extra parts for your breast pump—these can come in handy if you haven’t had time to sterilize other parts.
- Bring extra batteries for your breast pump in your carry-on.
- Special microwavable sterilization bags can help sterilize your breast pump accessories in a pinch.
- Bring hand sanitizer.
- Most fridges in hotel rooms can freeze ice packs and your breastmilk.
- Bring extra resealable bags to store whatever you need and to prevent spillage—cabin pressure changes on a plane, causing things, like your breast milk, to open.
- Bring a small cooler with you to store your breastmilk.
Now that you know what to expect, we hope you feel better prepared to take on the world—baby, breastfeeding and all. Bear in mind that regardless of how people may react, the choice to breastfeed is a personal decision between you, your baby and your doctor. Whether in the comfort of your own home, on a plane or in a hotel, Ameda is here to provide support and resources throughout your breastfeeding journey.