I nursed both my kids but I only traveled while breastfeeding with my son. As a first-time mom who really struggled with breastfeeding the first time around, I purposely waited until my daughter weaned herself off of me until we considered travel. This has more to do with my (then) body issues than any hang-ups with nursing in public, but I managed to figure out how to sterilize bottles in a hotel room and just got on with things. To go travelling with breastfeeding baby was not something I felt comfortable with the first time around.
My son’s first trip was at 10.5 weeks – a mini-break to Quebec City – and there was no poutine or tourtiere for him! He was fully breastfed and the only discomfort I experienced on that trip was some unseasonably chilly temperatures. Bub has been nursed in several airports, on a number of different aircraft, on beaches, by pools, and in a square outside a high school in Morón, Cuba. I’m pleased to report that I received nary a stink eye on any of those occasions, and I learned a few things that made us feel more comfortable…
- Invest in a few nice nursing tops - Especially in those early days, I wasn’t exactly feeling my most glamorous. A few nice tops that fit well and concealed my post-partum figure made me feel a little bit more human and kept me covered while Bub nursed.
- Hoodies and men’s undershirts are your friends – Nursing tops can be pricey, men’s undershirts are not. For my day-to-day wear, a few men’s undershirts in size XL gave me the length I needed to conceal what I wanted to keep covered, and a few favourite hoodies kept me able to just zip down to reveal what Bub needed.
- Taking care of baby means taking care of mama - Breastfeeding and traveling is comparatively easy, but that doesn’t mean that nursing is not hard work. It is. To ensure your milk supply stays plentiful you have to eat properly, rest, and not overdo it. Enjoy a fun umbrella drink but maybe not ten, and don’t push yourself to do too much. You’ve just had a baby, that’s already a lot!
- Don’t take the heat - If your destination is hot, you will need to drink more water. And baby will need to nurse more to stay hydrated, so you’ll need to drink even more water!
- Technology is your friend - While there is no app that will actually nurse your baby for you, there is one that will help you find places that are breastfeeding-friendly. Technically that should be anywhere and at any time, but if you feel awkward nursing in public or would like to find somewhere that will actually welcome you and your nursling, check out http://mobile.bravadodesigns.com/ to find a breastfeeding friendly location near you, add your favorite breastfeeding friendly location, and rate, comment, and share locations with other breastfeeding mamas.
Travel with a breastfed baby, especially an exclusively breastfed baby, is probably the least amount of effort you could make in ensuring your baby is well-fed while you’re traveling. No bottles or feeding gear to pack or wash means less work for everyone, but you will still need to be present. If you’re hoping for or expecting to have some nights off, you’ll have to bring your pump and some bottles. Travel with a breast pump is still totally doable (no thanks to the TSA), but obviously not as convenient.