You have a beautiful baby at home and yet you are getting ready to board a plane to travel to a meeting, conference, or other event for work. While this should seem super simple, you have one thing slowing you down, and that is how in the world you are going to maintain your breastmilk supply without being near your baby! If only your baby was traveling with you, you wouldn’t need to worry about 24/7 pumping and storing and you’d have tips on how to travel with a breastfeeding baby. But flying with newborn poses its own challenges as well so new moms don’t really have it easy whether traveling with baby or not especially when breastfeeding is involved.
This is more common that you could ever imagine, so do not let this get you down or worried, because those things will never help. Instead, consider what you can do to ensure that you continue to have enough breastmilk for quite some time.
Here are 9 tips to maintaining your breastmilk supply while traveling for work:
1. Take Your Pump with You
First off, you will need to take your pump with you when you are traveling. This will help you either pump your breastmilk before dumping it or pump it so you can safely store it until you return home. The best type of pump is a portable one, which normally comes with a carrying bag. Some of these pumps also come with a battery option and car adapters for even more convenience when you are on the go. It is important to know that the TSA does not count your breast pump bag as a carry on, so make sure that they do not try to tell you otherwise at the gate.
If you plan on keeping your breastmilk, you will need to take milk collection bottles, milk collection bags, ice packs, and a cooler with you, so you can get your milk home safely. It is also a good idea to have a pen or marker handy, so you can mark down when each bag of breastmilk was pumped. You may also want to check to see if there is a refrigerator in your hotel room, so you can store your milk safely before it is time to leave.
2. Feed Your Baby Before You Leave
You may be in a rush to leave for the airport on the day of your trip, but make sure that you take the time to nurse your baby before you leave. When you do this, your breasts will empty faster, and you will immediately start to produce more milk quickly.
3. Feed Your Baby Right When You Return Home
This tip is basically the same as the one above, because your baby can easily empty each breast a lot better than a pump can. This ensures that your milk supply will start growing quickly again, getting you back to where you were before you left.
4. Keep a Pumping Schedule When Traveling
You may not think anything of letting four or five hours go in between pumping, but your body will feel it and your milk supply will start to dwindle. It is best to have a pumping schedule for when you are traveling, as it will allow you to continue to build up your breastmilk supply. You can choose the schedule that will work best for you, but I have found that it is best to pump at the times when you would normally be nursing your little one. At the very least, you should be pumping every three or four hours, so that your milk supply stays consistent.
5. Start Pumping Extra During the Days Prior to Your Departure
One of the easiest ways to make sure that your breastmilk supply stays high is to pump an extra time or two during the day. The best time to do this extra pumping session is either in the morning, when your milk supply is normally higher, or later at night when your baby is in bed. You may not get a lot during these pumping sessions, especially at first, but it will help your milk supply over time.
6. Drink Extra Fluids When Traveling
When you are traveling, it is really easy to become dehydrated, especially when you are flying. If you want to make sure that you maintain your breastmilk supply when you are traveling for work, you are going to need to make sure that you are drinking enough extra fluids. This will ensure that your body can produce the milk that your baby needs.
7. Avoid Stress If at All Possible
Traveling can be stressful, and so can work, however, you need to avoid stress if you want your body to keep producing breastmilk. Even the slightest amount of stress during travel can significantly reduce the amount of milk you have, so if you do not think that you can stay stress-free, you may want to skip your trip altogether.
8. Video Chat with Your Baby
Sometimes it can be difficult to achieve letdown when you are away from your baby, so make sure that you video chat with them for the best results. If video chatting is not possible, then a photo, video, or an item that smells like them will work just as well.
9. Pump Approximately 45 Minutes Before You Land at Your Destination
When you are flying for work, I recommend pumping approximately forty-five minutes before you land at your destination. This will ensure that you will be finished prior to landing and you can easily get your rental car or a taxi and arrive at your event in time. You won’t need to delay anything, due to the need to pump, and you won’t need to worry about getting off schedule.
These nine tips will have you maintaining your breastmilk supply when you travel for work and for many months afterwards. If you are only going on one trip for work, you can easily do these things right before, during, and after your trip. However, if you travel more often, you may want to consider making these a permanent part of your life at the moment, so you can easily have enough milk for your baby. And when you do have to travel back with pumped milk, here are some tips on how to fly with breast milk, with or without baby.