Even if you’re a mom who strictly breastfeeds, sometimes pumping is just necessary. For busy moms, pumping gives you the opportunity to store milk if you’re leaving your baby for long periods of time with friends or family. Pumping is also especially useful for women who are going back to work, because it helps alleviate the uncomfortable pressure of breastfeeding and allows your breasts to heal. Another great reason why you might want to pump is if your baby is having trouble latching and you still want them to benefit from nutritious breast milk.
Many women choose to both breastfeed and pump as it gives them flexible options that align with their individual lifestyle. Although pumping can be done in the privacy of your own home, you may find yourself in situations where you’ll need to pump on the go, especially while traveling.
Here’s what you need to know about pumping on the go while avoiding the mess and inconvenience that usually comes with it:
If you’re going away for a couple of days, you’ll want to ensure you have a stash of milk at home in case you have trouble lactating away from your baby. For mothers who frequently travel, check with TSA about its policies on transporting breast milk, equipment, and other accessories through security. You may also want to check with your hotel to see if there is a mini fridge in your room so you can store your freshly pumped milk right away.
Invest in the right equipment
Your pumping experience can really improve with the right equipment. Mothers who pump don’t necessarily just invest in one specific item, rather they have several options available depending on where they are and what’s appropriate for their needs. Here are some useful pumping items that’ll help you on-the-go:
- Manual breast pumps: These don’t require a power source and are great for traveling light as they don’t require electricity.
- Portable pumps: These are useful for longer trips or car rides because most have options to run off battery power or your car adaptor.
- Hands-free pumping bra: This device lets you work or relax while pumping and holds your bottle securely while you focus on other things.
- Breastmilk storage bags: Perfect for traveling, milk storage bags are less bulky than bottles and can also be frozen for storage.
- Backup or spare parts: You can’t predict the future, and it’s always best to be prepared! In addition to investing in your pump, pick up an extra set of parts. It’s more convenient than constantly washing your pump parts, and you can even leave them at another location if you’re traveling between places.
Plan time for pumping
Finding time for pumping can be a challenge when you’re constantly moving, but it’s important to maximize peak production hours. The morning tends to be the best time for pumping as your milk production volume will usually decrease during the day. Speak with your physician to work out a pumping schedule that will work with your travel arrangements. They should also tell you exactly how much milk you should be pumping while you’re away.
Find a private place to pump
While most states allow you to breastfeed in public, you may just want to find a private place for your own peace of mind. Airport bathrooms, your car, and rest stops are all good options, however, you can always use a helpful app to help you find an ideal location.
Pack accordinglyPacking properly not only helps you avoid messy encounters, it can also help stimulate letdown. Some helpful items to bring with you while traveling are:
- A photo or video of your baby
- An item that smells like your baby
- Milk storage bags
- Hands-free nursing bra
- Nursing cover or button-front cardigan
- Nursing shields
- Cleaning wipes
- Re-sealable plastic bags
- A soft cooler and ice pack
Have a transport plan
You can always bring your milk home with you (choose direct flights so your milk stays cool), but if you’re taking an especially long trip then you might want to look into shipping your frozen milk home. Traveling for work? Ask your employer for your company’s UPS or FedEx account number to help with expenses.
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The Lytle Center for Pregnancy and Newborns at Swedish First Hill provides, in addition to its clinical services, a resource and retail center offering breast pump rentals, nursing bras, lactation supplies and other supportive resources for mothers and babies.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.