The ultimate guide to pumping while traveling
Today’s post is sponsored by Motif Medical. As always, all opinions are my own.
Looking for tips on pumping while traveling and traveling with breastmilk? Read the ultimate guide below!
I’ve now been on 6 work trips while breastfeeding my youngest and therefore, I’ve pumped on 6 work trips since she wasn’t with me. It is NOT easy and I seriously applaud any mama who travels for work regularly while breastfeeding/pumping. It’s legit a challenge and there are so many moving parts to ensure it goes smoothly. But since I’ve done it 6 times I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to make it easier, not only when it comes to the actual pumping part but also traveling back with the milk.
Bring a frozen ice pack from home. You may not have time to find one or find the kind you need (I learned this the hard way in NYC) so by having one from home, you know you will have one when you go to head back. If you do not have an ice pack but do have a freezer and therefore have frozen milk, the multiple bags of frozen milk will act as ice packs and keep each other cold in lieu of an actual ice pack.
Locate areas to pump. Most airports have a Mother’s Room or space for lactating mothers to pump. You can locate those prior to arriving so you know where you’ll be able to go. You can also use the Mamava app to locate designated areas as well.
Bring your pump and a cooler in a separate bag. A breast pump is considered a medial device and therefore does NOT count as your carry-on or personal item. So I have a bag that includes my pump, tubing, parts, bags, hands-free bra, etc. I put all of my pump parts in a freezer bag and then use sanitizer wipes or spray when I am traveling since I don’t always have access to dish soap or water. Then place them back in the bag and they’re clean for next time! Here are two different options; a backpack and tote style.
Request a refrigerator. If you do not have a refrigerator/ freezer in your room, ask the front desk. Most hotels will provide a pumping mother with one if there is not one in your room already.
Leave the milk refrigerated and then freeze it the night before you leave for home. If your unit does not have a freezer feature, it’s okay. You can travel with milk that isn’t frozen (you’ll still want to have ice packs to keep it cold) but the process may vary. On one of my trips where my milk wasn’t frozen, they literally had to open every single bag and waive a strip over it. On my most recent trip, he just picked up each bag and looked at it. I combine my milk from each day’s session so there are less bags and they take up less space in the cooler should that need to happen. ALWAYS REQUEST THEY PUT ON FRESH GLOVES BEFORE HANDLING YOUR MILK.
If you don’t want to go through the process of traveling back with your milk, look into Milk Stork. They offer a variety of options to help you get your milk back home via shipping!
Get a compact travel pump. This Motif Medical Duo pump is SO small but don’t let that fool you! It still gets the job done and is so compact that I can take it with me anywhere, especially helpful when traveling. I loved that it could be charged (and last up to 2.5 hour) and used without an outlet because that’s not always available to you. You’d be surprised some of the places I’ve had to pump without an outlet (a restaurant storage room, the dreaded bathroom (avoid at all costs but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures).
I also love the Luna because it’s quiet and mimics how a baby nurses (massage mode helps stimulate let-down and then expression mode helps get the milk out quickly and efficiently. My baby is also a fast nurser so this was more on par with how my baby actually nurses. It also has a backlit display and is only 2 lbs, so is also a great travel option! The Luna also has a car adapter so you can pump while on car trips, commuting, whatever!
I’ve linked them both so you can check out the specifications and features!
Schedule time to pump. Anytime I’ve been away, I’ve scheduled my activities and meetings around when I need to pump. My personal schedule varied depending on how old she was when I was away. The first trip was around her 4 month mark and I pumped when I woke up and every 3-4 hours after that. This last trip she was 14 months so I pumped closer to every 5-6 hours. If you know you’ll only have breaks at certain points during the day, I recommend pumping sooner than you have scheduled if necessary. It’s better to pump earlier than later to avoid engorgement, clog ducts, and a drop in production.
Bring a hands-free bra. Any pumping mama should have this anyways but especially when you’re traveling. Just makes it SO much easier.
Stay hydrated. Being away from baby can be stressful and can affect your milk production. So make sure you are drinking enough water so that you can keep up production and pump as much as possible. Don’t worry if it seems like you’re not pumping as much as normal, as soon as you get back near your baby or they start nursing again, your supply should return to normal.
I hope these tips help any traveling mamas out there! It’s not easy pumping while traveling but it can be done. And you are ROCKSTAR for doing it! You should be so proud of yourself…it’s hard work but you CAN do it!
Jen4 years ago
I love this post! So relevant to my life right now – I travel a decent amount for work and am still exclusively breastfeeding my 6 month old. It can seem like you are the only person in the world going through the hassles when pumping while traveling and it great to see you aren’t with posts like these! Thanks Mama! (P.s never thought of the sanitizing wipes! Great idea)
Alexandria4 years ago
Seriously the best post I think you’ve ever had! As a pumping mom who has six weddings to go
Too and then traveling next summer this is great!