Key West, New York, Georgia, British Virgin Islands…I’ve lugged a breast pump and these hard working ladies on a LOT of trips, haha! I’m feeling seasoned in the traveling-pumping-mom department enough to be able to share a good blog post worth of ideas and tips for those who needs to hop on a plane and travel while being a breastfeeding mom away from their baby. If I had my nursing baby with me while traveling, I wouldn’t even need a pump obviously..but I’ve been a lot of places and had my bag looked at strangely enough during security check to know what the best way to haul it around is by now!
From the beginning, invest in a good pump. I wasn’t really aware until after I bought one that insurance will cover all or most of your pump, but I LOVE my Medela pump. It’s fast and that’s what you need when you’re on the go or shooting weddings and only getting a tiny break between shooting! You need something that’s going to be dependable and this pump has ALWAYS been that for me.
Make SURE you have portable battery option. You’re not always going to be able to plug it in! Mine comes with a small battery pack that takes 8 AA batteries and if there is no plug option in sight, that’s what you’re going to need! It’s ALSO very worth bringing back up batteries for because they can wear the batteries out really really fast. Additionally, pumps don’t really pump as hard with batteries, even new ones, so if you have an option to plug it in definitely take that!
Consider bringing a manual back up. Manual hand held pumps are very small and can fit right inside your electronic pump bag and you don’t want to be on an island and not have the option to go and buy another pump should yours break. If you’re working, being engorged and risking mastitis and clogged ducts is not a good idea!
Bring hot/cool packs and lanolin in case you feel a little pain/clogged. These also can fit right in your pump and are so worth it just in case! Also, you may think you’re past the lanolin stage but once that plastic is wearing on your boob time after time, you may end up wishing you had lanolin again for soreness!
Bring a clear freezer bag to house the accessories. When you’re going through airport security, it’s best to have a clear bag for them to see efficiently what you’re packing in there. The tubes that hook from the pump to the shields, some wipes, milk bags, the lanolin and the hot/cool packs, etc are all in there and they can hold it up and see it fast and get on with the check that way.
Don’t forget breastpads!!! You’re going to be leaking without that baby nursing all the time! Don’t forget those little mama!!!
Even though they make the square cooler to fit in the back, you may not wanna bring that. The cooler that fits in the Medela pump with the perfectly shaped ice pack is SO cute and convenient for shorter trips, but if you’re gone for a few days…think about how much milk you’re going to actually be bringing back! WAY more than four little bottles that fit into that small cooler! We have a thin, long rectangular ice pack we tuck in the back of the pump in a freezer bag with all of the milk in regular breastmilk bags that we froze LAYING DOWN FLAT in the freezer wherever we stayed! They kind of work as ice packs and keep cold for a very, very long time and fit so well in the back of the pump! 🙂
You gotta carry it on. Even if you have to throw your wallet, cell, important things on and make it a purse, you HAVE to carry that pump on! If you had delays and were engorged and in pain, you would be in a little of a panic not having that with you!
They will probably pull it aside during security check. And they have the right to test it, too actually. You have the RIGHT to bring your pump and your milk back with you! The security guard at JFK was just so awesome about reiterating that to us recently. I think it’s awesome that it doesn’t have to go to waste, it’s extremely hard work and it’s liquid gold. Know that you have the right to keep it!
Consider making alarms on your phone to remember to pump. I don’t personally have to do this because Autumn is 8 months old now and I’m not nursing around the clock, and she’s additionally not solely depending on breastmilk anymore but if you need to keep up supply and demand, you have to pump enough to remind your body to keep making it plentifully!
Hang in there! It’s not easy to pump on a trip. I’ve pumped in a NYC Starbucks bathroom before when I was out of options but it’s worth it to keep going if you’re determined to do so! 🙂