Breastfeeding while traveling
Breastfeeding doesn’t take a break just because you are traveling. Baby still requires food, I still require relief and if we are being specific, breastfeeding is the ultimate budget friendly source of nutrients for your growing little one. Breastfeeding while traveling can be a chore, mainly because mom and baby doesn’t have the same comforts at home that create the ideal breastfeeding environment. But there are ways to adapt to this frustration and I am here to tell you my story.
Don’t get me wrong, there is more than one way to feed a baby and I have been blessed with the time and ability to breastfeed both of my children. I have had numerous friends and family go the formula route; this is a valid choice (or by necessity) and I am not here to make judgement, shaming or anything else other than to entertain and educate.
If you are considering traveling before baby is one years old and you just can’t see how it is possible to do both, see what Breastfeeding while traveling really looks like. Don’t forget to click on the image for the caption.
Tips for traveling with kids
On demand feeding
Feeding on demand will always be your best bet. Find a comfortable spot, quiet and relatively low traffic, and hunker down for a session.
Plan in advance
Choose a restaurant or eatery that will give you the privacy and space to breastfeed in peace. If you aren’t sure, call ahead of time, possibly making reservations before their peak time to avoid stares and comments.
Know the local laws and cultures
Not everyone is OK with breastfeeding in public, and some countries may even deem this illegal. If you must visit these countries and cultures, have a back up plan during breastfeeding sessions. Will you escape to a public bathroom, return to the hotel, pump and serve in a bottle, or just postpone this destination for another time.
When we went to France, Lonely Planet suggested that Breastfeeding in public would have me shamed and ridiculed. Turns out, the beach and surrounding cities did look at me funny but not a soul spoke to me about it. I did, however, have a nursing cover – which Baby Girl hated – out of respect for the French culture. I also saw lots of topless ladies at the beach itself so I did ditch the cover at one point.
Breastfeeding can calm everyone down during travel
The act of breastfeeding, not necessarily the nutritional value of it, has a habit of calming everyone down. This is especially important during take off and landing when baby’s ears just won’t pop. The sucking motion will help relieve the pressure, as well as calming baby down. Also, being stuck in your chair, unable to tend to hubby or older child is a little calming as well, “sorry, can’t help you, ask someone else or do it yourself”. Unless baby is brand-new, they should be used to this phrase by now and give you at least a few minutes of peace. In theory.
If baby is just too interested in everything going on and doesn’t feed as often as usual, you may need to pump. Make sure you have the proper equipment and always ask for a room with a fridge.
Declare milk at the airport
Always declare milk before heading through airport security. Even in my broken German, I was able to tell them I had 4 bags of 8oz breastmilk in my diaper bag. The poor young man had no idea what I was saying, “what is muttermilch, I don’t understand”, his supervisor quickly ran over, pushed my bag aside and let us pass.
You are still bound by the 100 ml per package limit, but they allow a fair number of bags through security, as long as the baby is with you.
What to pack when Breastfeeding and traveling
Breast pumps are considered medical devices and should be allowed as a carry-on item. Check with your airline before packing as a separate bag, or simply placing it in the diaper bag.
A manual pump will get the job done, either for immediate relief or top up breastfeeding for another time. They don’t, however, stimulate the glands for further production. It is not recommended that a manual pump be used for full-pump or long term pumping.
The Medela Swing is the least expensive stimulating electric pump that I have found. Either plug it in or use a new set of batteries to pump anywhere, anytime.
Milk Storage bags
Once you have expressed a sufficient amount and baby doesn’t want it right away, you will need to store it. I have used a handful of different brands (when they are on sale, of course), and much prefer the Medela milk bags. They seal nicely like a Ziploc bag, I can write the date and time so I never forget when I expressed, they are also reusable.
Most importantly, they are “hackable”. There is a little yellow strip across the top that will secure to the pump nozzle and collect milk straight from the pump, no need for a bottle. This makes one less step in the preparation process and one less item I need to clean.
It doesn’t take an engineer to properly place baby in a carrier to have full access to breastfeeding on the fly. I discovered this quickly when I was trying to clean up and Munchkin just wouldn’t settle down for his nap. Pop him in the carrier, lower the straps and voila, feeding vacuuming at the same time.
Breastfeeding friendly top or nursing cover
There is nothing worst than stretching a good shirt so baby has access to feeding. Usually I would just pull my shirt up, but full-tummy exposure is not high on my list during a vacation. Having a nice, new nursing shirt for feeding (and for vacation photos) is always a nice treat for mom.
A nursing cover works well when a baby gets easily distracted by the sights and sounds of the surrounding area. I hate when hungry baby keeps wiping their head around at the smallest distraction. This will also help in the more modest cultures, keeping some of the comments and stares away.
It is not just nursing mommy’s and their partners that have supported me and my public feeding. I have had complete strangers encourage me. I was walking my son to school one morning and baby girl needed to nurse, and I did not have a bottle prepared – she was supposed to be sleeping. So I dropped him off, plopped ourselves on a park bench and nursed. Usually this path doesn’t have much foot traffic, thankfully, because I had not brought a cover – talk about being prepared. Anyways, this older gentleman walks by and starts talking to me. It’s in German. I don’t know German. But he talks anyways. From the few words I caught, he was congratulating me for feeding her, in public no less. He went on to say he had x number of children, all breastfeed, and they all went on to be top professionals. I thought this was great. I hear horror stories online about women being shamed for public feeding, by fellow mothers, fathers and the elderly, and here I am being encouraged by a gentleman at least 80 years of age.
There are naysayers in this world, I won’t deny that. But no one ever talks about the good people. The nice, kind and encouraging people that make your day a little better. I’d like to hear more stories of people being accepted, encouraged and supported with their various forms of breastfeeding. Leave a comment below. Even add a photo, it’s all good. We are adults.
Plan Your Trip – Stay and see everything
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