Pumping while Traveling

October 21, 2016

I took my very first trip away from the kids! Flew out to New Orleans for a weekend. It was only for 3 days, but it was a pretty big deal considering it was my first time away and I was still nursing my 9 month old. Since I was still nursing, I had to pump throughout the trip. I had never done that before. There was so much to consider and think about before leaving for my trip. What to pack? Will the airport allow this? Where will I pump? Is there a fridge? Should I freeze or refrigerate the milk? and so on.

The pump I'm currently using is really compact and it can be battery operated, which is perfect for traveling! You won't always have an outlet to plug into. I use the Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Pump.

Here's what I packed for my trip:
  1. Breast pump
  2. Large cooler bag (I purchased the black one shown below. Simple, big and inexpensive)
  3. Small cooler bag (gel lined) (This small one was to use in case I was out long and needed to pump and store the milk immediately)
  4. Ice Packs (3)
  5. Milk bags (25)
  6. Milk containers (4)
  7. Pump/Accessory wipes
  8. Bottle soap
  9. Ziploc bags (large and small) 
  10. Nursing cover
  11. Tote bag
  12. Extra pump parts
  13. Nursing pads 
  14. Extra Batteries

You're allowed to carry on your breast pump and supplies. It doesn't count as your one bag and one personal item. I purchased a fairly large tote bag and put the pump, supplies and small cooler in it for the departing flight. I knew that I'd have to pump once before boarding the flight so I packed my small cooler with ice packs. I had no problems going through security with ice packs even with no milk in the cooler yet. They didn't ask me any questions and I went through rather quickly.

LAX has designated "nursing" rooms for mother's who are breastfeeding and/or pumping. Kool right? These rooms have a baby changing table, outlets, chair and sink. They also lock so you have some privacy. It was actually really convenient and I was able to use this room right before boarding my plane. I pumped for about 15 minutes and put the pumped milk into the small cooler with the ice packs (milk will be fine in a cooler for up 24 hours).

I was pumping every 4-5 hours during my stay in New Orleans. I had to make plans knowing I couldn't be without a pump for more than 5 hours. There's just so much cleaning when it comes to pumping. Pumping seriously takes a lot of work and lots of washing! By the end of my trip, I had almost 50 oz of milk to take back home. I distributed it into 3-4 oz milk baggies and labeled them. I was going back and forth about whether or not to freeze or refrigerate the milk, but since freezing milk kills some of the good nutrients and I didn't want to risk the milk thawing at all on the flight home, I decided to keep the milk refrigerated. Refrigerated milk stays good up to 5 days. If my trip had been longer than 4 days, I would have frozen the milk.

The day of my return flight home, I packed my large cooler with all the ice packs and milk baggies. It was just big enough to fit everything. I was unsure whether TSA would give me a hard time about the milk, but I had no issues. They didn't even ask questions and I didn't have to get swabbed or anything. MSY has designated "nursing" rooms as well. I pumped one last time and boarded my flight. Once I got home, I put all the milk bags in the freezer.  Hooray!

Some tips:
  • Print out the TSA rules pertaining to breast milk just in case someone gives you a hard time.
  • Don't forget to bring a nursing cover. I had to pump in a restroom one time and needed the cover.
  • Keep some Ziploc bags with you. I kept gallon and sandwich sized bags in my purse. At the airport you can ask a store to fill it with ice so you can put in your cooler.
  • Do some research on the airports you are flying from and into. I mapped out where the designated nursing rooms were so I didn't waste any time trying to find them. 
  • Keep some hand sanitizer with you. Might not be able to wash your hands properly all the time.

I have to admit, I was quite glad when I reunited with the family and with Ava specifically. Missed nursing her and I was happy to have a break from having to clean tons of tiny pump parts. Oh, and the kids were great with Ken while I was gone. They went down each night with no problems and both were well behaved. Perhaps that means I should get away more often!

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