Oh hey, Mamas! The whole pumping thing is something that I never did research on before becoming a mother. I probably should have. I knew that I would breastfeed and return to work but I never thought about pumping while traveling. Don't fret! These tips will help my fellow mamas who have to travel and pump on the go.
1. You may be uncomfortable. I know this is a hard thing to come to terms with but pumping outside of your home or a comfortable setting will always be a bit... strange. You kinda have to get over it. You have to ignore the knocks and comments that people make when they hear the wheezing cow sound that is your pump's machine. Try very hard to not feel guilty when you take up a space that someone else may need. You NEED that space, too. You have every right to be there and while it isn't the best accommodations, just know that you'll be done before you know it.
2. You don't HAVE to pump and dump. With my first, when I traveled, I would pour that precious liquid gold down office and hotel drains. It killed me but I didn't want to have to deal with the hassle that was getting around and flying with breast milk. It really isn't THAT difficult if hotels and offices can accommodate your request for a fridge (or freezer) and if you adequately pack a cooler for the trip back home.
Another option? Donate to a mama in the city that you're in. On Facebook, Human Milk 4 Human Babies has pages for just about all areas. Share a post about your available milk, and find another mom in the city that you're visiting who’ll be sure to appreciate your bounty. Everyone wins!
3. You HAVE to set reminders. Between traveling, events, meetings and getting all out of your normal routine, it is so easy to forget to pump. Setting reminders is A MUST for me and I like to set them at least 30 minutes before I need to actually pump. That way, it gives me enough time to head back to my pump.
4. If you plan on refrigerating your milk, reserve a fridge before your trip. Never assume that your hotel or office has them available.
5. Learn how to hand express. If you aren't able to get to your pump and you've got to relieve some pressure, hand expressing may be your next best bet. I don't always like doing it in public but I find a nice and quiet area, get an empty water bottle and express away!
6. If you're flying, know what TSA has to say about traveling with breast milk. It's soooo important to know your rights because you can't expect the agents to know them. If you can, print off documents and put them in your pump bag before you fly. That way if someone wants to hassle you a bit, you can present them with facts. BOOM!
7. Mamavas exist! I found one of these glorious pods in John F. Kennedy Airport and it was like seeing an oasis in the desert. They aren't everywhere (yet) but your best bet is to download the app to see if they'll be in the area you plan on traveling to. I hope to see them all over in the near future.
8. Some hotels may let you freeze milk. I recently asked this and they were happy to do it. The next day I had frozen milk in my cooler that remained frozen all the way home. WIN!
9. Your output may not be what you "think" it should be. With my first child, I exclusively pumped and had no problem filling up 2 5-ounce bottles. It's a bit different when you're nursing directly. Don't feel discouraged if you aren't able to pump a ton. Your baby is so much more efficient at emptying you than any pump is. Stay on a schedule and pump on!
10. Carry extra pumping parts/bags. Traveling is crazy enough. Be sure to pack extra breast milk storage bags, bottles (with lids), pumping membranes and even tubes if you have a space for it.