How to pump when traveling for work

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?

Get the pedicure

Last weekend was nuts.

I was pumping multiple times a day, working ahead on some projects for the following week, and trying to find clothes that fit my postpartum body to pack for an out of town event.

This work event just happened to be in Destin, Florida, and I desperately needed to get a pedicure for my soon to be exposed toes.

But I had a million other things to do and the thought of leaving my kids alone with my husband for even one extra hour before heading to the beach days later seemed so unreasonable.

This is a situation I’ve found myself in many times before.

I need to do the laundry, take the kids to get a haircut, go to the grocery store, finish client projects, sweep the floors, strategize some upcoming business initiatives, and clean the toilets…

Seriously, who has time to get a pedicure?

That really got me thinking.

I need to do so many things. {At least I think I do.}

But what about what I need?

In this case, a pedicure to bring my feet out of hibernation. But sometimes it’s lunch with a friend, time to exercise or just a quiet moment alone.

Why do we, as mothers, hesitate to do things for ourselves?

Mom guilt.

Surely it would look bad if I went a did something for myself before every tiny thing at home is wrapped up, right? I mean, I’m leaving town for crying out loud.

Except here’s the thing – the long list of to-dos is never really done. And by not taking care of numero uno, we just ware ourselves down with all of the other stuff. Even the flight attendants remind us before take off that we need to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others.

Full disclosure: I’m writing this post from a 3 bedroom penthouse suite at a resort in Destin, Florida.

And I absolutely refuse to feel guilty about it.

Why?

Because it’s great for my personal and professional development.

I have a husband whom I trust completely with our three children.

Everyone will be alive and well when I return home. After a week, they won’t even remember I left in the first place.

And I would have a lot more regrets if I’d chosen not to attend.

So while I acknowledge that mom guilt is definitely a real thing, I’m also declaring it only as powerful as we allow it to be.

So before my trip, I decided to kick mom guilt to the curb in four easy steps.

  1. It’s easier said than done, but stating that you refuse to let guilt take over is the first step. Like most things in life, it’s a choice.
  2. Address why you felt it in the first place. For me, it was the idea of asking my husband to step up one more time right before leaving town.
  3. Find a way around it and make your own reality. I could have filled my day with housework and packing, and then been upset about my ugly feet later. I could have resented my husband for “not letting me go” even though I’d never asked. Instead, I ditched the housework, waited until the older kiddos were napping {aka pretending to sleep while quietly destroying their bedrooms} and took the baby with me to the nail salon.
  4. Give yourself grace. Did I get to every single thing on my list before heading out of town? No. But it’s been a week and I still haven’t. But I did give myself a pat on the back for doing something I normally wouldn’t have done for myself and for feeling really good about it. For the record, my toes look fabulous, the baby slept the entire time we were at the salon, and my husband barely noticed I’d left the house, let alone the remaining chores.

Mom guilt, be gone!

Who’s with me?

Go out and be an awesome mother, wife, colleague and friend. Just please remember to fasten your own oxygen mask first.

“I try to give equal parts of myself to all things that are important to me.”

traveling working mom

 

As I get back in the swing of things {in case you missed it, 2016 was a tad eventful}, I’m excited to bring back my #workingmomwednesday series.

Last year I interviewed over two dozen working moms. Many owned their own businesses, but all shared a particular passion for their families and careers.

Today I’m chatting with an old college friend, Megan Manguso. One thing that sets Megan apart from any of the interviews I’ve done before is that she travels…a lot. I couldn’t wait to find out her tricks and what was just plain tricky. Read on to become an expert in jet setting with a baby and a briefcase.


Self promo time. Tell me about yourself.

I currently live in central LA {just South of West Hollywood} with my husband Nick, my son Maddox {11mos}, and my FURst baby Oliver {terrier mix}, affectionately known as Ollie Bear. I am the Head of Strategic Partnerships for onefinestay – a start up company which provides upscale, serviced/managed short term rental accommodations in London, Paris, New York, LA, Rome and Miami {think airbnb and a boutique hotel had a baby}. I’ve always been in the travel industry so naturally travel is part of my job, and I love it.

So how often do you travel for work?

Pretty regularly… after my son was born last February, I went back to work starting mid May. Since then, I have been to Europe 3 times for work. But I travel domestically pretty regularly, too. Since June I have been to Miami, Paris, London, Rome, Las Vegas, Vancouver, New York, and the South of France.

How have you been able to balance being a new mom with such a demanding job?

When I had to go to London and Rome, I brought my son. I had my mom come with us and we rented apartments/houses. My husband joined us for the Italy leg and we had some vacation time, too. It has to be said that I couldn’t do this without him. I had to fly straight to Vegas after Italy and so he flew home to LA from DC {6 hours!} after nearly 24 hrs of traveling and the baby had probably had only a few hours of sleep. For Vancouver, we rented a home there, as well. I love the whole idea of “beliesure” {extending business travel for leisure travel}. I really want my son to experience the world and feel comfortable traveling from the moment he can remember. Plus, got to take advantage of free flights before he turns 2!

What is your best travel tip for moms?

Embrace the fact that you are going to have A LOT of stuff and get the gadgets you need. I am and have been a pretty regular traveler. I pack light. A carry on for 7 days is no problem for me. So when I had my son, I had to accept that there was no more carry on only. I did a lot of research {I’m big on mommy research} and found the best gadgets I could to make it easier. Stroller bags, bouncer chairs, travel toys, etc.

It sounds like you have a great support system. Who helps you when you aren’t on the go?

We have an au pair. The au pair program is amazing for us, because it allows for flexibility. It’s also significantly more reasonable in price compared to a full time nanny. In Los Angeles, it ends up costing a little bit more that traditional day care, and since I work from home 30-50% of the time I get to see Maddox during the day which makes being a working mom much more bearable.

How do you stay focused when working from home?

Obviously, you need to have the space for it. We have a detached 1br/1ba studio and it works perfectly. Garage conversions are very popular in LA – so we bought the house with this intention.

What is your best piece of advice for working moms?

Balance, flexibility, and focus. Basically, when I am working, I try to be as efficient and effective as possible. It makes the day go by faster, and if I am going to be away from my son, I need to make it worth it. Also, then I have less pressure to stay connected to work when I am with my family.

At the same time, flexibility and balance keeps me going. I work from home a lot and my son is with his au pair in the house. So I will work for a few hours and then go out to see him for 15 or 20 minutes, or for lunch, and then go back to work refocused. I am a big believer that the 9-5 thing was built for the industrial, manufacturing age. I can’t sit still for 8 hours doing the same thing regardless of being a mom or not, so being able to break up my day and find a job/superior that allows me to do that has been key.

What keeps you sane?

Back to balance. I couldn’t be a full time mom. Not because I don’t think I have the capability, I think that I would be so over the top about it, and my type A personality would drive my family crazy! I am pretty sure I would turn my family into a business {Martha Stewart, Leave it to Beaver style}. So having something else to work on keeps me sane and the right balance between the two is the ultimate goal.

I embrace that I am type A and need to control things, so I plan everything out long before I need to start worrying about it. For example, I put my son on lists for school over year before most because I know the stress it can cause {especially in a place like LA} if you wait until just a few months before. I always have an action plan when it comes to parenting, marriage, and work.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

Ahhh having it all! So, I actually believe you can’t have it all and that it’s OK. I am realist, and it’s simple math: you only have 1 of you to give. So I try to give equal parts of myself to all things that are important to me. I don’t believe my son, my job or my husband need the whole me, I think they need the best me, and the best me is balanced and present.


Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.