The Breastfeeding Mom: Traveling Without Baby
By Sheena Sy Gonzales Some moms give up on breastfeeding when they need to travel without their baby but this shouldn’t be the case. Although it’s not easy and requires a lot of hard work, it can be done. So whether you’re going on a business trip or a short getaway with your girlfriends (even moms need a quick break, right?), here are four tips on how you can keep your milk supply up when you’re not traveling with your baby.
#1 Prepare your milk stash
Start preparing for your stash months before your departure. Keep in mind that your body works via supply and demand. Try pumping after a direct feed or pumping a few extra minutes more than usual. This will tell your body that it needs to make more milk so you’ll have enough extra to store. You should also start prepping your baby as well. If he has never consumed breast milk from a cup or bottle, he'll need time to practice this skill before you leave.
#2 Express your milk regularly
To maintain your milk supply, make sure you express milk as often as your baby nurses at home; if he nurses every three hours, you must religiously pump every three hours as well. When you’re traveling, you might not always find a nursing station where you can express milk. But you can try looking for a quiet corner or a secluded area where you can pump in peace for a few minutes. Make sure you wear nursing tops or button-down shirts for easy access. Don’t forget to bring your nursing cover!
Even if you notice a dip in your supply, just keep at it. Most of the time, you'll find that your milk supply will soon return to normal once you are reunited with your baby.
#3 Storing and bringing home breast milk
Keep in mind proper handling and safe storage while you’re on the road.
According to the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), expressed milk must be stored in clean, tightly sealed containers and transported in refrigeration, or frozen in dry ice. It's important to keep track of the milk's shelf life. It may be stored in an insulated cooler bag with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours. When refrigerated, it can be stored for five days.
Do your research. Different airlines have varying regulations on bringing breast milk on board if you’re not traveling with your baby. Some allow you to bring it with you in your hand carry. Others require you to separate your milk into small containers. There are also some who allow you to transport breast milk only if you check it in with dry ice. Also, ask your hotel if they have an in-room refrigerator or freezer for storing the milk that you express. And don’t forget to bring all your cleaning and sterilizing equipment too.
Storing and bringing breast milk home involves a number of factors. You not only have to bring ice packs, you'd have to wash and sterilize your pump and bottles as well. If these are not possible in your destination and if there isn't a safe and reliable means of storing your milk, then you may have to discard your expressed milk. But you still need to keep on expressing your milk nonetheless until you are reunited with your baby.
#4 Remember to drink a lot and rest!
Traveling is often fun but physically tiring and when your body is exhausted, you produce lesser milk. Keep yourself well rested by taking frequent breaks and getting a good night’s rest. Also, don’t take your liquid intake for granted. Drink up and stay hydrated throughout your trip.
Sheena Sy Gonzales is an illustrator and travel writer. She hasn’t traveled with her baby just yet (link: http://sheenalovessunsets.com/dear-son-you-havent-traveled-yet/), but she continues to breastfeed her baby even after three trips without him. She blogs about her life and travels at www.sheenalovessunsets.com