You probably already know how to fly with a newborn and agree that traveling with a baby is always a challenge since they require feedings and changings regularly. However, when you are breastfeeding, there are a few additional challenges that you need to be prepared for when you are away from home including how to fly with breastmilk!
Here are 14 tips for traveling with a breastfeeding baby:
1. Always Do What is Best for Your Baby and You!
The top tip that I always like to give out in situations like this is that you must always do what is best for your baby and you! You are breastfeeding your baby, because that is what you feel is best for the both of you. Therefore, do not let anyone shame you or tell you that you cannot feed your baby in certain locations.
2. Consider the Altitude Changes
When you are flying, you know that your baby is going to experience pain in their ears during the altitude change, as the plane goes into the air and eventually descends. However, your baby is also going to feel that same pressure as you are driving through the mountains.
While you cannot breastfeed your baby while driving, you can breastfeed them when the plane is changing altitudes, so that their ears do not pop and cause them as much pain. A pacifier will do the trick when you are driving, or you can pump some breastmilk and feed it to them in a bottle.
3. Bring a Breastfeeding Cover or Wear a Breastfeeding Shirt
The clothes that you wear when you are traveling should always be comfortable, but you will also want them to be easily accessible for breastfeeding. If you do not want to wear a breastfeeding shirt, then you should bring a breastfeeding cover to ensure that you have a little bit of privacy when your baby is eating.
You may not have a problem if your breast is showing a little, but unfortunately, other people are not as oblivious to that fact and may start making comments. These items may come in handy depending on the destination you are visiting as well, because some cultures do not perceive breastfeeding in public the same way as others.
4. Consider Finding a Private Breastfeeding Area
Some babies do not mind being around the hustle and bustle when they are breastfeeding (this normally occurs with babies in larger families), but some will refuse to eat because they are too busy trying to see what is going on around them. If this sounds like your baby, then you may want to consider finding a private breastfeeding area, so that they will eat quicker than they would out in the middle of everyone else.
These areas are popping up everywhere nowadays and you will find them inside airports, amusement parks, and many other places that families visit. Please do not feel shamed into using these breastfeeding areas but know that they are there for your comfort and your baby’s comfort. If you do not want to use one of these areas, but still want a quiet location, you can simply walk around to see if there is an empty gate that you can sit at inside an airport, or a quiet spot at an amusement park, while you are breastfeeding or having some alone time with your baby.
5. Stay Hydrated While Traveling
As a breastfeeding mom, you must stay hydrated when you are traveling. It is so easy for a regular traveler to get dehydrated quickly and you will find that your hydration level gets depleted much faster since you are sharing the liquid with your little one. The best way for you to stay hydrated is to continuously drink water, whether you are in the airport or up on the airplane. I recommend staying away from soda if possible, because it has a tendency to make you even more dehydrated.
6. Eat Well While Traveling
Nothing will deplete your breastmilk faster than not getting enough nutrients when you are away from home.
You may think that you are still full from breakfast and do not have time for a real lunch, but you need to take the time to eat healthy foods for both you and your baby.
7. Get Some Rest Every Day
When you are traveling, you want to see so many things every single day, which usually results in staying up later than you normally do. However, as a breastfeeding mom, you need your rest so you can maintain your supply of milk. So, try to take a short nap during the day and make sure you get in bed early enough at night to grab your six to eight hours!
8. Consider Breastfeeding on Demand
If your baby is still little, under six months old, you may need to breastfeed on demand for part of your travels. You must remember that travel is still new to your baby and the one way that they feel comforted is when they are breastfeeding.
Therefore, plan to nurse at even the most inopportune times and just be thankful that you do not need to juggle bottles and all the other supplies that you would need if you were not breastfeeding.
9. Consider a Baby Carrier or Sling
Depending on the age of your baby, you should really consider taking a baby carrier or sling with you when you are traveling. Your baby will feel most comfortable all snuggled up to you, which means that their cranky times will be minimal compared to what they would be if you had them in a stroller all day long. Plus, these items keep your hands free, so you can use them whether you are in the airport or an art gallery or simply strolling along a street. You can also breastfeed your baby in the carrier or sling, which means that you will not need to stop what you are doing when they are ready to eat.
10. Consider a Window Seat when Flying
There is very little room within the seats on airplanes nowadays, but the window seats will give you a little extra room for your baby when they are breastfeeding.
The window will also give you a little more privacy, as you will only have the person next to you, instead of the person across the aisle or on both sides.
11. Ask a Flight Attendant for Assistance
Most flight attendants have had to assist a mom or two during their career, so do not be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it. This tip can come in quite handy when you are traveling alone with your baby and need to use the restroom.
Airplane bathrooms are quite small, so even placing your baby inside a baby carrier or sling may not allow you to take them into the bathroom easily so you can go. You may not think that this tip has anything to do with breastfeeding a baby, but since you need to stay hydrated when you are traveling and breastfeeding, you will love it when you realize that you need to use the bathroom a little more frequently!
12. Consider Your Pumping Options
Pumping is always tricky when you are traveling, because you need to decide what to do with the breastmilk that you just pumped! Since you will be with your baby all day and all night, you probably can get away with not pumping when you are traveling with them. This is always best, because then you will not need to worry about how you will store the breastmilk and how you will get it home. You may still want to take your pump with you though, just in case your little one doesn’t eat as much as you think that they will, and you need to pump out a little of the excess for your own comfort.
13. Talk to Your Doctor Before You Leave
Some destinations will require you to have certain immunizations before you travel there, and while many of those immunizations are safe for your baby, you should always check with your doctor first.
Let your doctor know that you are breastfeeding and see if there are any risks that you may be taking with or without the immunizations.
14. Time Feedings with Rest Stops When Driving
For those times when you are driving to your destination, I recommend choosing rest stops that will meet your needs when it is time for your baby to eat. After all, there is nothing worse than being out in the middle of nowhere, with no bathrooms or shade, when your baby needs to breastfeed. Therefore, choose your travel times accordingly, so that you are near places that are helpful when it is time to breastfeed your little one.
You can easily travel and breastfeed your baby at the same time, especially if you follow the fourteen helpful hints that are above as well as know these tips for flying with your baby. Just remember that breastfeeding your baby is much easier, because you do not need to lug around bottles, nipples, formula, and every else that is required for a bottle-fed baby. So, while you may think that you are struggling a little bit with breastfeeding while traveling, think of all those moms who do not have that option and need to have everything else with them. Their struggle is real as well, so if you see another mom during your travels, give her a smile and let her know that you are in this together!