5 Travel Essentials for the Pumping Mom

If you've been following me on social media, you know that I recently had the honor of presenting at the ICAP conference in Toronto. It's not often that I leave my children and travel alone, especially since my daughter is still nursing. And since she is still breastfeeding, I had the pleasure of pumping while I was on my trip. 

You'd think a seasoned lactation consultant like myself, who helps moms with pumping every single day, would go on a trip SUPER prepared with everything she needs to pump! Well...if you thought that, you are sorely mistaken!! I left Phoenix at 2:00 PM and by the time all was said and done, I arrived at my hotel around midnight eastern time. I settled into my upgraded executive suite (yay!) and busted out my pump. UH OH. I forgot a key part of my pump!! 

A little back story to put this into context: my daughter is 2.5 so she doesn't nurse all throughout the day, which is why I can go several hours without needing to pump. I also have to use 17mm pump flanges to achieve a proper fit for my breasts. That means that I've "hacked" my pump and that requires additional parts.

So, back to my story. I had the pump (a Spectra S1), the tubing, the bottles, the gaskets, the backflow protector, the flanges...but what I didn't have was the tiny adapter to make the 17mm flanges work with my Spectra pump. Ugh.

I did what any lactating mom would do in this situation. I hand expressed my milk. Let me tell you--that was a grueling endeavor since it had been over 12 hours since I last expressed milk. I'll just say that it was a great workout for my hands! Finally I was done, so off to bed I went.

The next day, I hopped on to Amazon.ca and ordered the part I needed and had it delivered to an Amazon locker. Thank you, Amazon!!

After realizing that I forgot something so essential, I knew that I couldn't be the only one who needs a guide of what to bring along when pumping and traveling. Here are the 5 essential things you need to take with you when traveling and pumping:

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1. Your Pump

This might seem really obvious, but I have to include it. There's a possibility you could be so busy packing all your accessories that you forget the pump itself!

 

2. Pump Parts

You'll need all of these parts to make it work, so don't forget any of these! In fact, it's a great idea to bring extras of these things in case something is damaged in transit or breaks/wears out while you are away. 

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  • Tubing (both tubes)
  • Gaskets/valves (2)
  • Backflow protectors (2)
  • A/C adapter
  • Flanges (2)
  • Bottles (2)

 

3. Milk storage system

You'll need a way to store the milk. Will you be freezing it or just keeping it cold? Depending on the length of your trip, whether or not baby is coming with you, or if you'll be shipping your milk, your needs will vary. Many moms love milk storage bags since these can be laid and packed flat, they can be frozen or refrigerated, and they take up very little space. These are especially convenient if you are staying in a hotel with a tiny freezer compartment.

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4. Pumping Bra

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If you haven't already been using one of these, you are in for a treat! A hands-free pumping bra is your best friend if you ever need to pump. It will free up your hands so you can work on something else while pumping, or you can use your hands to massage your breasts while pumping for maximum milk output.

5. Remedies for Breast Problems

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While no one wants to get plugged ducts or mastitis during their lactating journey, it can happen. And it's much more likely to happen when you are traveling and won't be able to express milk as regularly as you would at home. Trust me on this--you want to have these remedies with you before you leave. I love homeopathics for so many reasons! They are safe, very effective, and work quickly. Phytolacca decandra 30C is what you would take for plugged ducts and Belladonna 30C is what would would take for mastitis. These are small, don't require refrigeration and will be a lifesaver should you get a clogged duct or painful mastitis.

I have some final tips for you that are optional:

  • If you need to ship your milk back home, Milk Stork is an incredible service that has it all figured out for you and makes that process so simple.
  • Pack everything you need for pumping in your carry on. You never know when your bag will get lost or damaged and it would be devastating to pack all the things you needed and they never arrive at your destination. That's a pumping mom's worst nightmare!!
  • TSA guidelines state that breastmilk is not subject to the liquid restrictions and can be brought in a carry on bag. You may be asked to have the milk screened separately so give yourself extra time to get through security.
  • Many airports have pumping/nursing rooms with outlets available. Some airports and public places also have private booths made by an awesome company called Mamava that have outlets and clean, secure spaces for you to express milk.
  • If you have access to an airline lounge or board room, use that privilege to reserve a room to pump! I flew on Alaska Airlines a couple of years ago and they were so friendly and accommodating by providing me a conference room all to myself to pump milk before my flight. Bonus: they have free food! It may even be worth it for you to purchase a day pass to one of these lounges so you can pump in style!
  • Pumping on the airplane is actually very easy, especially if you have a battery-powered pump. A nursing cover and nice scarf will do the trick to help you be discrete. I never recommend pumping in bathrooms since that is not the proper place to express milk. It is your right to pump in the seat on your plane. If you plan on doing this, a window seat is ideal so you don't have to get out of your seat for fellow passengers when they need to use the restroom. And pumping 45 minutes before you land is great timing so you can get off the plane, grab your bags and head to your destination without having to pump right away.

I hope you find these tips valuable! Please share and comment below with what has worked for you when traveling and pumping. 

Jacqueline Kincer