Traveling without your baby when you are breastfeeding

Traveling while breastfeeding doesn’t have to get you down.

A woman in a face mask sitting between luggage at an airport.
Photo: Pexels/Raven Domingo.

If you are a breastfeeding parent, it is important to plan accordingly if you are going to be traveling without your baby. It is important that breastfeeding is well established before any long separations from your baby, that you feel comfortable expressing milk and have built up a supply for use while you are gone. It is also important that your baby takes a bottle of expressed milk well. This is an important skill for your caregiver to practice with your baby before you depart on your travels.

Before you leave for your trip, make sure you pump enough milk for all the days you are gone, plus a few extra days in case you run into delays in your travel. If you are attending a conference or event, contact the event organizer to ensure there is a good place to pump. Inquire with the hotel you are staying at if it is possible to have a refrigerator available to store your milk. If you are traveling by air, call the airline to see what they have for pumping accommodations. Many airports have mothers' lounges or other accommodations for pumping mothers. It is important to not miss any of your pumping sessions even during the time when you are traveling. Make sure to carry your pumping equipment with you so you can pump when needed, regardless of delays or changes in travel plans. Before leaving on your trip, make sure to pack your charger and extra replacement parts in case something breaks or is lost during your trip.

Make a plan for how you will store your expressed milk while you are away. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), expressed milk and freezer packs are not limited by the regulations governing liquids on airplanes. Both pump and expressed milk may need to be x-rayed during the security process. This will not change the nutritional properties of the milk or make it unsafe for your baby to consume. The CDC has additional information related to breastfeeding and travel.

When you arrive at your destination, try to stick to a pumping schedule, one that follows your babies feeding schedule. Pumping regularly is very important to maintain your milk supply. Even if you are unable to squeeze in a full pumping session, try to pump for a few minutes to help maintain your supply. If you plan to bring your milk home, make sure to follow the guidelines for proper milk storage.

As you plan your trip home, make sure to be familiar with the rules for transporting your milk. Airlines generally post these rules on their respective websites. Make sure your milk stays at the necessary temperature to keep it safe and ready for your baby when you get home. Hurry home and give your baby some love!

For more information about healthy tips and tricks, visit MSU Extension's Food & Health website.

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