From the practical to the frivolous, the banal to the fun and surprising... I hope these little nuggets will empower you to travel while breastfeeding. It deﬁnitely presents some unique challenges but ultimately it’s worth not sacriﬁcing any travel you covet and seeing a possibility beyond ‘pump and dump’...
What to bring with you...
Pumping while travelling require additional supplies that you may not need while you are at home. While it looks overwhelming at ﬁrst, over time, you will learn to leave most things in the hotel and only bring a very small part of the items below with you for your daily outings. I am able to ﬁt it in a small MUJI organizing pouch and put it in my large handbag when I travel around daily. I do not carry a separate diaper bag or Medela bag.
Here’s a checklist:
Pump and accessories
I use the Medela Freestyle because of its chargeable battery which can last me at least 10 pumps (about 2 days) without re-charging. Remember to bring the charger.
I bring along 2 sets of bottles, pump parts and breast shields.
If weight or suitcase capacity is not an issue, I recommend bringing along a hand pump for the rare instances you need to pump a little and quickly or as a backup for the electronic pump.
Medela Quick Clean Wipes for cleaning the bottles, adapters, shields and covers on the move. This is super handy for cleaning pump parts and bottles after they are used and you have no proper way of washing until you get back to the hotel. Medela claims that you can use it after you wipe it down and air dry it for 15 mins but I always see some soapy residue after wiping so I strongly prefer to rinse it with water before using.
If in the hotel, I like to do it the old-fashion style of rinsing it with just boiled water (every hotel has a kettle in the room) after the wipes.
Medela Microwave Disinfecting Bags are best for sterilizing the pump accessories. Some hotel rooms, most hotel restaurants, service apartment rooms and ofﬁces have a microwave. Throw all the parts into these bags, pop it into the microwave for 2 minutes on high and everything is sterile for their next use. I try to sterilize this way once every day but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it this often if the microwave is not always accessible.
Milk Storage Bags
On the average, I pump 4 -5 times a day. Please bring at least 20% more milk bags than you expect to use. Milk storage bags are light and there are many reasons why you would need extra: It is hard to optimize the bags capacity because sometimes you pump when it’s convenient rather than the ideal time and you may end up pump more times with less collection each time; you drop or dirty a bag outside unintentionally; you need to extend your trip unexpectedly.
Lasinoh and Pigeon have been my favorite brands because of its durability and genuine ability to store 200 ml of expressed milk. I recently discovered Boots and ﬁnd them even better and the much more affordable price is a big bonus (less than half the price of Lasinoh/ Medela), however, it is not available in Singapore and I buy it from Boots in Bangkok.
Whenever possible, freeze them ﬂat so you can stack them up on the return trip.
For labeling date and amounts in the milk bags; and for tagging your box of stored milk when you check in.
Shatoosh / Nursing Cover
I dislike pumping in public but have done it on the plane, in a car and even outside this Harley Davidson showroom when I had no choice. (Start imagining the stereotypical Harley burlies, there were 4 of them lingering about less than 50 m from me but then again, they were far more interested in admiring one another’s bikes than gawking at me). A nursing cover is a must for emergencies and for maximizing your time. Take comfort that there is a certain anonymity and you can get away with more things when you travel than when you are at home.
I always prefer to bring less things when I travel so I tend to only use my shatoosh with a tied knot and pump away.
I always keep packs of tissue handy for emergencies and for wiping any accidental drips or spills.
Bring 2-4 large Ziploc bags for packing the milk bags and/ or dry ice so they are not in contact with one another.
Bring some small plastic bags (Ziploc/ sandwich bags) for keeping ice to keep expressed milk chilled when you are on the move during the day. These are also handy when airplane staff give you dry ice or ice to keep any expressed milk fresh for longer.
Ice Packs and Small Cooler Bag
To store expressed milk when you are on the move during the day and on long or multi-segments ﬂights before you get to freeze the milk.
I use a Fridge-To-Go or a small Medela (freebie when I bought my Freestyle) cooler bag depending on the length of the ﬂight/ travel intensity.
For packing and sealing the box or cooler in preparation for check in.
Letter from OBGYN
Airport policies must be written by men. Strangely, if you are travelling with your baby (or a baby for that matter), you are allowed to bring your expressed milk with no issues.
However, if you are travelling without a baby, please make sure you carry a letter from your OBGYN stating that you are lactating and need to travel with your breastmilk.
If you are driving a rental car, consider buying a car adapter so that you can pump or charge the pump in the car if necessary. When I was in LA, I got one for $19 at Radio Shack and I realized how comfortable, discreet and time-saving it is to pump in the car.
For a prolonged trip, you may worry about a dipping supply from pumping without latching. Bring your galactogogues tea or pills. I brought 4 packets of Yogi Tea when I went to the US for 12 days, I don’t take it on a regular basis but keep it for standby.
Cooler Box (Optional)
To pack the frozen packs of expressed milk and dry ice for packing and checking in.
I have used small boxes from supermarkets or paper reel boxes before. Really, any clean paper or plastic box will do.