Traveling, Pumping, and the Dreaded Nursing Strike


This blog post is from one of our #MamavaMonday mamas, Tabitha Allen, who shared her adventures in pumping...internationally! 


Friday morning we arrived in Madrid from Boston and got a hotel to relax before our next flight to Venice. It was our first vacation away from our 4-month old daughter who's breastfeeding—except during the day when my husband bottle feeds her my breast milk. So I packed my pump, but when I plugged it into the Madrid outlet, it began smoking. Thankfully I had a plan B and had brought a manual pump as back-up. I ended up using it for the rest of our vacation.


We walked the streets of Venice for more than 12 hours every day and I continued to pump as if I were feeding our daughter. I felt a strong sense of responsibility and love for breastfeeding, so I did not want anything to go wrong when I returned to her. On eight hour flights I pumped in the plane bathroom.


Here is the kicker: we returned home in the middle of the night after being away for five days and after that first late night feeding my daughter went on a nursing strike. Yes, this is real.


I was unsure why all my hard work from pumping on our short vacation was failing until I did research and saw all the forums telling me about a nursing strike. I was so hurt, emotional, frustrated, and angry that I'd left her too soon. I felt guilty that by leaving her I'd destroyed the most precious bond we had together.


My husband was very understanding and supportive, reassuring me that I had kept our daughter alive for the first four months of her life with my breast milk. I would feed when I was home and my husband fed her during the day when I was at work, so as a family we had the connection that Bethany described. I hadn't realized the bond I had with her meant so much until I started losing it.


The thought of buying formula to supplement was devastating to me. People kept telling me to keep trying and maybe she would start again. I began to lose hope and accept this new change and my new role as a bottle feeder. But last night an opportunity arose for me to try to breastfeed while my husband warmed a bottle and she latched--finally my prayers were answered. My husband came upstairs to find me breastfeeding our daughter and we gathered together in her quiet dark baby room watching her touch my face with her little hand.


I had treasured these moments since she was born, but had been missing them all week. I kissed her little hand, grateful for this moment with her as my husband stood and watched us. After I laid her back down in her crib we hugged each other in silence holding this moment in our hearts. 

This morning before leaving for work she breastfed again and I thought my day was complete, until I was pumping at work and reading Bethany's post.  I had not been able to pump more than three ounces all week and as I read her story I truly felt as if I had been living it. When I was done reading I looked down and I had pumped five ounces. I was overwhelmed with joy and knew I had to share this story with you.


I don't know if my little girl is completely back to breastfeeding, but I do know that I stayed determined during this struggle with the help of my husband. The bond that I formed breastfeeding my daughter has left me with a love for her so strong that even the thought of supplementing cannot break it. To the other moms who are breastfeeding, supplementing, and formula feeding, know that your babies will grow and change in many ways and taking them out of a normal routine may alter your schedule.  Be prepared to change with them and be patient because all you need is love.


If you’re a #breastfeeding mama (or know a fierce #breastfeeding mama), let us know & we’d love to share your story in our #MamavaMonday series--contact us via DM☺

Tagged: Breast Pumping