Pumping Breast Milk on the Go

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Pumping Breast Milk on the GoPumping breast milk. Just hearing those words can make a lactating mother sigh with exhaustion. Pumping isn’t fun, but is often necessary to help women reach their breastfeeding goals. But, when it comes to pumping milk, there are a lot of factors to consider, especially when a mom is pumping on the go. How do you keep the milk cold? How do you get breast milk through airport security? As a lactating woman, what are your rights in hotels and airports? Thankfully a veteran mom shared her insights as to how to be successful when pumping, while traveling.

Sarah Ponder is a working mother who travels six to eight days each month. Her youngest is one-year-old and she is still breastfeeding. That’s an impressive feat for any mother, but especially one who travels so frequently. So how does she do it? The following is her step-by-step advice on how to keep her supply going even when she’s on the road:

  1. I bring two nine-ounce bottles to pump into, then a whole stash of Lansinoh breastmilk bags (I find them to be stronger, hold more and cheaper than Medela bags). I have a car charger, battery pack, lanolin cream and three-ounce container of Dawn dishsoap. But most importantly I have my Thermos brand soft-sided lunchbag cooler. It is the best cooler I have ever used for storing my breast milk. It keeps ice intact for eight or more hours and the milk cold for 12+ hours. I typically carry a gallon Ziploc bag with me and put all my milk bags inside the Ziploc bag and then inside the cooler with ice on the bottom, sides and on top.
  2. When going through airport screening, make sure to tell the scanner you have a breast pump in the bottom of your suitcase. This will prevent them from pulling you for additional screening. When in the airport, I always look for the family bathroom because it has an outlet where you can plug in your pump to get the best power and suction. If the airport does not have a family bathroom, I go into the handicap stall in the women’s restroom and hang my pump on the door and pump with the battery pack, which takes longer because it is not as strong, but gets the job done.
  3. Once I get to the hotel I always make sure my room has a fridge in advance. It is considered a medical necessity, so they have to provide you with one at no charge. I then make sure to wash my pump and parts in hot soapy water and hang them up to dry.
  4. While onsite visiting a client, I am usually able to take a lunch break to pump. But if not, I make sure I pump in the car right before I go in, using my car adapter (I am usually in a parking garage and cover up with my suit coat). I have my cooler full of ice in the trunk and can put my milk in before I go in for the meetings.
  5. I try to pump as many times as I normally feed my little one or when he has a bottle, this way I do not get too full or have issues with my milk supply diminishing, while I am away. This means waking up in the middle of the night, even though there is no baby to feed,  which is probably the hardest thing. But well worth it.
  6. When I am flying back home, I pack up my cooler with all of my pumped milk and ice, and make my way through security. You are able to keep your ice in your cooler and there is no limit to the amount of milk you can carry with you. Because it is considered necessary, it does not apply to the three ounce rule. Milk will always get you chosen for additional screening and this is where I get very particular. I have read the FAA regulations regarding breast milk, so I know what they can and cannot do to your milk. When they take your bag, they have to wait for you to be present before they touch your milk. So make sure you gather all of your belongings from the belt and then follow them to the screening area. Then they are able to open the cooler, but they are not allowed to open your bottles, touch your milk inside the bottles or test the milk in any way. They can take your bottles and place them in a machine that scans them. But that is it. If they try to open my milk, I remind them of the regulations and if they continue, I ask for a supervisor right away.
  7. Because of new research from La Leche League, I understand you are able to keep breast milk refrigerated for more than three days, so on most trips I am able to carry all my milk home and don’t have to dump the liquid gold.
  8. Sometimes after a long trip away I notice that my milk supply has gone down a bit, which is normal. If extra feedings/pumping, oatmeal, more water, etc., don’t help to boost my supply, I supplement with Mother’s Milk tea or the More Milk Plus pills.

What has been your experience? Have you had to pump on the road? Have you been able to save your “liquid gold” or did you have to pump and dump?

{Photo credit @iStock.com/ChepeNicoli.}

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4 thoughts on “Pumping Breast Milk on the Go

  1. She has it down to a science…very helpful though.

    If you are traveling via car and don’t have access to soap and water but want to clean your pump pieces, Medela makes some cleaning wipes.

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