Traveling with kids of any age can be trying on parents, and the added “bonus” of getting through airport security is always a treat. But for breastfeeding moms, all of this can be doubly stressful. Not sure what to do? We’ve answered the most common questions moms ask when preparing to travel with breast milk.
Traveling While Breastfeeding: What to Know
Can I fly with breast milk?
The 3-1-1 or liquids rule for carry-on luggage requires that any liquids must be less than 3.4 ounces or 110 millimeters and fit in one quart-sized resealable bag to be screened when you go through the security checkpoint. However, formula, breast milk and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces is permitted with additional security screening. Have your formula, breast milk or juice separated from any other liquids under the 3.4 ounces and inform a TSA officer that you are carrying these items at the beginning of your security screening process.
What happens during the security screening?
TSA officers will need to conduct additional screenings on your breast milk, formula or juice for explosives or prohibited items. The officers will likely use an X-ray machine to test the items or ask you to open the container and have you transfer a portion of the liquids to a separate, empty container in order to test it.
You can inform the officer that you do not wish for the container to be opened, and additional steps can be taken to clear the liquids. Those additional steps could include a pat-down or screening of other carry-on property.
The Food and Drug Administration and CDC state that an X-ray screening of food or drink does not adversely affect the product, nor does a breastfeeding mother walking through.
How can I store my breast milk when traveling?
You are permitted to store your breast milk, juice or formula with an ice or freezer pack or frozen gel pack. But if the storage packs are only partially frozen, they are also subject to the same screening process as the actual breast milk, formula or juice. Once you’re at your destination, you can use the fridge to store all of your milk, and pack it back up in your cooler before traveling home, or pack it up to ship.
Can I bring baby food and toys?
Does my breastfeeding baby need to be with me when I travel?
Breastfeeding moms who are flying without their child, but with breast milk, are permitted to follow the same additional security screening rules for the liquids.
Should I ship my breast milk?
If you want to eliminate the additional security screening process altogether, consider shipping your breast milk to your destination ahead of time. Frozen breast milk can be packed in a cooler with dry ice or ice packs and shipped overnight to your destination. Make sure there is someone to receive the package, however, since it will need to be stored properly upon delivery. Companies like Milk Stork will ship your milk for you, and save you the hassle of shipping anything yourself.
Can I pump in-flight?
Check with your airline and airport to see if there’s a private place to pump, such as a family room. If you’re an airline rewards member, some airlines offer lounges that could provide a bit more privacy, as well. You can also carry on your breast pump, but it will be considered one of your two personal items (such as a purse) if it doesn’t fit within another carry-on bag. There are no laws regarding breast pumping in U.S. airports, but if you’re flying internationally, do your search, as rules may vary by destination.
Can I breastfeed in-flight?
Mothers are permitted to breastfeed or pump during a flight, either in their seat or in the restroom. It’s a good idea to make the flight attendants or your seatmate aware that you will be breastfeeding during the flight in order to make sure everyone feels comfortable.
How do I handle traveling without my breastfeeding baby?
It may seem daunting to leave your baby while you travel, especially if you haven’t been pumping much. But there’s a simple rule: pump whenever your baby would nurse. If your baby is nursing every two hours, you should pump every two hours. If your baby is nursing less, and you were pumping in-between sessions, make sure to add those sessions in, too. Getting engorged is no fun, and you don’t want it to happen while you’re away from home and your doctor/lactation consultant. If you’re traveling for work, remember that it’s federal law that employers must allow time for mothers to pump, so no matter where you are in the U.S., they are required to accommodate you (and to give you a safe, clean space to do so). If you’re traveling internationally for work, you may have to be a bit more adaptable about where you pump.
Traveling While Breastfeeding: What to Pack
Traveling with breast milk can add stress to what’s supposed to be a vacation—especially if you’re a first-time breastfeeding mom. But having the right products for traveling while breastfeeding can minimize your worries. Consider these useful products for traveling with breast milk when planning your next getaway.
1. Electric Breast Pump
The breast pump may be your most important luggage item. The Bellababy Double Electric Breast Feeding Pump is ideal for moms on the go, as this electric breast pump is lightweight and easily portable. It’s powered by a USB cable, which is included. It has four phases of pumping and nine adjustable settings.
2. Manual Breast Pump
If having a power source isn’t going to be convenient for your travel plans, consider a manual travel breast pump. The Medela Manual Breast Pump is ideal for travel and easier to pack since there are no heavy cords. It’s a hands-free pump that’s lightweight and quiet. It uses a dual-vulcanization process with a flexible silicone pump, which creates a tight seal. The pump comes with a protective lid for storing milk, as well.
3. Breast Milk Travel Cooler
The Medela Breastmilk Cooler Set is the ideal breast milk travel cooler bag to keep your breast milk on ice while traveling. The small cooler bag can store up to four breastmilk bottles with lids. But the best part is the included contoured ice pack, which fits easily between the bottles and keeps them cool. Considered to be one of the best coolers for traveling with breast milk, the Medela cooler set is compatible with the Medela double electric breast pumps.
4. Nursing Cover
This nursing cover from Fair-E-Trade is multifunctional: you can use it for some privacy while breastfeeding and also as a carrier cover. It comes with a travel bag for easy storage, and is available in a variety of colors.
5. Nipple Cream
While breastfeeding is super rewarding, there are some rough side effects that go along with it. Sooth your chapped, sore nipples with this lanolin nipple cream by Lansinoh. It’s safe for your baby, so no need to wipe it off before a feeding.
6. Disposable Nursing Pads
Individually wrapped and so perfect for moms on the go, these disposable nursing pads from Hey Mama are a perfect addition to your carry-on bag. They’ll provide added protection in case you leak, or some extra comfort if you’re chapped.
7. Breastfeeding Nipple Shield
If your baby has a hard time latching, has started biting, or you experience pain for any reason during breastfeeding, a nipple shield like this one from haakaa will be a game changer. It’s made of 100-percent food grade silicone and is BPA-, PVC- and phthalate-free, making it super safe for your baby.
8. Breast Pump and Accessory Wipes
Trying to find a sink and keep things sanitary can be difficult while traveling. These quick clean breast pump wipes will clean your pump parts when water isn’t available. With 24 in a pack, they’ll also come in handy if you have to wipe down a table, high chair or a toy that falls onto the floor.
One thing breastfeeding is not? Predictable. Whether you always leak while breastfeeding or not, a milk-saver is important to have on hand. Don’t lose a drop of your precious milk with these! It collects milk from your non-nursing breast, and fits into a bra or tank.
10. Breast Therapy Gel Pad
Stay comfortable with these breast therapy gel pads. They can be heated up, or chilled depending on your needs. If you’re engorged, heat them up to assist with milk flow; if you’re sore, they help ease any pain. They’re small, lightweight, and portable pain relief for breastfeeding moms on the go.
11. Breastmilk Storage Bag Adapters
Ideal for when you’re traveling and storing your milk in bags, these breastmilk storage bag adapters attach storage bags directly to your wide mouth flanges. With these, there’s no need to transfer from a bottle into the bag, saving every last drop of your milk. It’s a huge space saver, eliminating the need to pack any bottles while you travel without your baby.
12. Breast Pump Travel Bag
Being a mom doesn’t have to mean you have to sacrifice style. This chic breast pump travel bag will carry all of your breast pump parts and accessories, plus it has a padded compartment for your laptop.