5 Tips for Pumping While Traveling

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I have completed more flights than I can count on two hands (and two feet) in the past two and half months since I returned to work from maternity leave. I am in the air and on the road A LOT and am so blessed that I have not had to give up nursing and breast feeding my baby due to traveling. 

I had so much anxiety returning to work on how I would manage all the logistics of carrying breast milk, pumping in air, transporting milk, keeping milk cold, etc. while on the road every week but am happy to say I think I have it figured out. I did a ton of research and talked to a ton of other moms who are doing it to learn the tips and tricks of the trade & now feel that I owe it to any future Mommas wanting to do the same to share what I have learned. So without further ado here are my tips for flying and traveling as a breast feeding Mommy:

1. Purchase all the chargers. 
Seriously I recommend a battery charger, car charger, and normal outlet charger and always carry back up batteries. Unfortunately often times flights get delayed and it can become impossible to find an outlet. Your best back is to have a car charger and battery charger ready to go as backup. That way you are always prepared. 

2. Use the Magic Words "Medical Device" a lot with TSA.
Ok ladies...here is the thing about TSA...they will either be great and it will be no issue at all or they will be awful and pat you down and run your bag approximately 5 times after searching it in person. I have had both happen often. Here are my TSA tips...use the words "medical device" often, also, don't be afraid to say "breast milk" it's amazing how scary those words can be to some people (men especially) and how questions can stop when you mention those two simple words. If they do search your bag ask them to change gloves before doing so. 

3. Time is your friend.
I recommend arriving approximately 45 minutes earlier to the airport than you would arrive normally. That way if TSA gives you a hard time or you need to pump before departing you have time to do so. Also, don't forget time to get ice once you go through security from a restaurant.

4. Your coolers matter.
Let's talk logistics. For me the easiest thing to do is to check an empty cooler with ice packs (no ice is allowed on flights) on the way there. Once I get to my hotel I ask the hotel to refreeze my ice packs over night. On the way back I check all the milk I have pumped previously in my cooler with ice packs. I use a soft Artic cooler I bought off of Amazon and it works great. I have never had an issues with milk not staying cold when stocked with ice packs and milk. Remember you must have ice packs as the airlines won't allow ice. I also brink a small soft cooler that fits in my pump bag through security (empty) that way I store milk that I pump once I go through security and on longer flights, on the plane, in it during the flight. If you pump on the flight I recommend pumping in the airplane restroom and then asking the flight attendant for a cup of ice. If you pump at the airport you can go to any restaurant and ask for a bag of ice. Bring lots of Ziploc baggies with you and just hand the restaurant a bag and ask them to put some ice in it. I do this all the time and have never had anyone not say "sure," no questions asked.

5. But where do I pump?
Great question. Most airports have these great things called "Mothers Pods." I love them because they are spacious and have outlets. The bad news? Lots of people use these Pods to take naps. If you are one of these people PLEASE STOP. There is no way to reserve these and often times you may not have time to wait if it is not available before your flight leaves. If a Mother's room or pod is not available at your airport my second favorite location to pump is a Family Restroom. Often times they also have outlets although they will not have a seat and you may have to pump standing up over a sink. Lastly my third option is a restroom stall where you will need to use your battery charger. Not ideal but push comes to shove this is what I use as my last option. Also, if you have to pump on the plane it can be done. Take it from someone who had to fly to Seattle and had no other way. 
 
I hope you have found these tips helpful. I praise  you sweet Mama for loving your babies enough to make this sacrifice for them. I commend you and remember this too is only a season. If I can ever answer any questions please don't hesitate to reach out. Happy to pass on anything I have learned. 

Happy travels and happy pumping! 

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