How to pump when traveling for work

  • The Free Mama
  • Tagged , , ,
  • March 8, 2017
  • If you read my last post, you know that I just took a work trip to Florida.

    It was fabulous!

    But having never traveled for work before, this veteran working mom of 3 sure felt like a rookie when it came to pumping on the go.

    I remember when I went back to work after my first was born. I was fortunate enough to have little trouble breastfeeding and wanted to keep it up. While it took a few weeks to adjust to a pumping schedule at work, my Medela bag carried everything I needed to get from 9am-5pm each day.

    But from Tuesday to Sunday?

    Without nursing in the mornings and evenings?

    That was something entirely different.

    I learned a thing or two about the best ways to pump when traveling. Hopefully they help you out in the event you find yourself living the jet setting life soon after baby arrives.

    Do your research

    I’m a planner, so this was a no brainer for me. Find out where you’re staying and what amenities will be available to you. I knew I’d have access to a full kitchen, which meant I would have a freezer to keep my ice packs and breast milk frozen. Also, understanding your rights traveling with breastmilk will give you confidence when you travel. You can brush up on those here.

    Pro mom tip #1: if you haven’t started pumping yet, you’ll want to leave yourself plenty of time to store up breast milk bags prior to your trip. Don’t have a breast pump yet? No worries. This site helps match your insurance with a manufacturer that will get you one for free!

    Practice makes perfect

    Getting myself prepared was one thing {think a lot of extra pumping to store up for my time away}. Preparing your little one is quite another. And if you’re a nursing mom, especially one who works from home like I do, your baby is going to be less than thrilled when your breast is replaced with a bottle. Make the transition on her easier by letting her practice with dad, a responsible sibling {Daphne loves to feed Audrey!} or another care taker.

    Pro mom tip #2: leave the room! That baby can hear and smell you and thinks it’s pretty unfair that she has to have a fountain drink when the tap is parading around the place.

    Pro mom tip #3: stay calm. If at first you don’t succeed, try another bottle/nipple. The truth is, when she’s hungry enough, she will eat. Change is hard for us adults, too.

    Pack early and accordingly

    The week before I left, one of our cats CHEW THROUGH THE CORD TO MY PUMP. Yup. I totally panicked. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime’s two day shipping and replacement parts. The moral of the story, make sure you have everything you need and tuck it away safely days before you leave. Triple check you have everything you need to make your breast pump function properly. And, depending on how long you’ll be away, you may need to invest in some additional storage supplies. I was fortunate to have a mom friend who let me borrow her ice packs and cooler.

    While you’re packing, consider throwing in tops that are easy to nurse/pump in.I didn’t pack to pump, and since I wore a lot of dresses and ended up having to strip down completely. Luckily, my event was held close to where we were staying, so I could return to my room to pump.  If you’re going to be on the go, definitely put some thought into what you’ll wear.

    Pro mom tip #4: invest in a car charger converter. There are products that turn the cigarette lighters into outlets or converters for the breast pump to plug in itself. I own the former and it’s been a lifesaver on several occasions, including the two times I had to pump in a car this trip.

    Relieve yourself

    Literally. When you’re on the go and childless, it’s super tempting to run around like a normal person. I would frequently wait until I was fully engorged to go pump, because I didn’t want to miss a thing!

    The bad news? I ended up getting Mastitis the last night we were there. If you’ve never had it before, consider yourself lucky! I never got so much as a clogged milk duct with my first two children, and have had two since my third was born. You’re more likely to get this infection while pumping, especially if you do not fully drain the breast. So go on ladies, relieve yourself.

    Pro mom tip #5: don’t stop pumping or nursing when you have a clogged duct. It’s painful, but it’s also the best way to get rid of it. Hot showers, heating pads and ibuprofen don’t hurt either.

    Be upfront

    As soon as I got to the airport security line, I let them know I was traveling with breastmilk. They were very helpful in walking me through the process:

    1. Run the cooler through the X-Ray conveyer belt with my other carryon items.
    2. Escort me to the back to inspect cooler further.
    3. Only the liquid bags greater than 3.4 ozs had to be examined. Luckily, all of my bags were frozen solid except the two I had made that morning. These liquid bags were run those through a special screening machine {no bags were opened}. Had all of the bags been frozen or under the ounce requirement, I would’t have been inspected at all!
    4. I got bonus points for having everything in clear bags. There was no award for this, but it’s highly recommended.

    I’ve heard horror stories from other mothers who had less than positive experiences, but this was mine. Again, be prepared and know your rights as a nursing mom. Knowledge is power!

    I hope this helps you the next time you’re leaving your baby, whether for work or for pleasure. Being a working mom is hard enough, but committing to nursing and pumping is no easy fete!

    Tell me, have you ever traveled while pumping? How did it go?

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