The past couple weeks have included a fair bit of traveling for me – two conferences in two different cities, plus a visit to see family. Previously the travel wouldn’t have fazed me a bit, but now I’m a new mom with a 3 ½ month old baby! Traveling with a baby is totally do-able, it just requires a little extra preparation. An important part of that preparation is making sure baby will be fed! I thought I’d share a few insights I’ve learned for breastfeeding and pumping while traveling.
Feeding & Hydrating Yourself
While this may seem obvious (we have to eat don’t we?) it can be a little more challenging when you’re away from the conveniences of home. Breastfeeding requires approximately an extra 330-400 calories per day. I know my typical eating routine always gets thrown off a little bit while traveling and there were several occasions while traveling that I was glad I had brought my own snacks when food wasn’t available otherwise. Be sure to pack a water bottle and a few of your favorite snacks, like granola bars or fruit and nut bars. My hotels were also located next to grocery stores, which made it convenient to stock up on a few other healthy snacks and breakfast items like fruit and yogurt.
Keeping Milk Safe
Breast milk can be stored at room temperature for 6-8 hours, in a cooler with ice packs for 24 hours, and in a freezer for 3-6 months. While making your travel arrangements, consider your options for storing breast milk if needed. I made sure to book hotels that had in-room refrigerators, and one of the hotels had an in-room microwave. Having a refrigerator to store milk was essential, but having a microwave made it very convenient to sanitize bottles and pump parts using microwavable sanitizing bags. For more information on keeping breast milk safe, see the CDC’s recommendations for storing breast milk and cleaning breast pump parts. Also, if you will be flying to your destination, be sure to review the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for traveling with breast milk.
Finding Quiet Lactation Spaces
Both of the conferences I attended were very accommodating, providing quiet designated spaces for lactation and even refrigerators. I also found a nursing room at the airport and at a museum while doing some sightseeing. Traveling can be stressful, so I found these spaces to be wonderful for a little bit of quiet time to nurse my baby and pump milk. Depending on where you’re traveling, you can find information about lactation spaces through websites and apps that have compiled lists, as well as directly on a website for an airport, tourism site, or in my case, a conference.
The next time I travel I will feel much more prepared!
Blog contributed by: Maren Wolff, MS, RDN, LD