Solutions For Breastfeeding Concerns While Traveling

international breastfeeding symbol, breastfeeding friendly, breastfeeding while traveling

The International Breastfeeding Symbol

I’ve mentioned before that traveling with a breastfeeding baby is easiest, if only because you don’t have to figure out how to sterilize bottles in a hotel room. I also fully acknowledge that I waited to travel with my first child until we were done nursing, because of many personal concerns I had about travel and nursing, and breastfeeding while traveling. Because my mission here is to inspire, motivate, and help families travel with babies, toddlers, and young children, I was delighted when Bravado Designs got in touch so we could talk about breastfeeding and travel.

Sharing Concerns About Breastfeeding While Traveling…

In their on-going effort to support nursing mothers, Bravado Designs conducted a survey of over 500 mothers with the goal of better understanding the challenges of traveling with a nursing baby. The data was very interesting – and inspiring! – with 71% of respondents saying that they were definitely planning on traveling with a breastfeeding baby. There were concerns though – about milk storage, possible personal restrictions, as well as regarding nursing in public.
With regard to expressed breast milk, there was concern that stored milk may be taken at airport security, or that the stored milk may go bad. In spite of recent headlines (and now probably because of them) the TSA states that:

TSA has modified the rules associated with carrying breast milk through security checkpoints. Breast milk is in the same category as liquid medication and mothers parents flying with, and without, their child are permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as it is declared for inspection at the security checkpoint. Additionally, empty bottles and ice packs are permitted under these conditions.

When carrying formula, breast milk, or juice through the checkpoint, they will be inspected, however, you or your infant or toddler will not be asked to test or taste breast milk, formula, or juice. Our Security Officers may test liquid exemptions (exempt items more than 3 ounces) these items for explosives. Officers may ask you to open the container during the screening process.

With regard to storage, for healthy, full-term infants, breast milk can remain at room temperature for 4-6 hours, in a cooler with 3 frozen ice packs for 24 hours, or in a fridge for 3-8 days.

Some personal concerns about travel and breastfeeding were that it would slow down car trips, and restrict activities normally enjoyed while traveling (thus, not being able to enjoy the traveling). The thing with car trips with infants is, that regardless of breast or bottle feeding, the pace will be slower. In fact, all travel with infants is slower – and it should be! Plan for frequent stops when determining your road trip route, and prepare for emergency stops anyway for ill-timed diaper blowouts. Whatever you do, please don’t try to nurse your baby while the car is moving.

There are few activities that you can’t do when you’re nursing – traveling or no. If your destination is hot, make sure you stay hydrated, and help baby to do so by offering extra feeds. Over-exertion may lead to supply issues, so don’t overschedule your days. Enjoy a leisurely pace with your baby in tow – after all, it is supposed to be a vacation, right?

breastfeeding while traveling, madeira beach florida, gulf coast with kids, florida gulf coast, madeira beach, gulf coast with babies

Madeira Beach, Florida

I started traveling with our son when he was 10 weeks. We nursed on planes, trains, and in (stopped) automobiles. In restaurants, on park benches, and occasionally, in really nice nursing rooms. I was pretty surprised at myself, considering I had issues with my daughter, but nobody EVER gave me a weird look or said anything. I think it is important to note this, since we only ever hear about the bad stories in the media and online. Simply finding a place to sit means your baby can eat, although I do salute those mamas who can do it walking around with baby in a sling. I never used a cover, either. I always had a small blanket on hand, and would throw it over my shoulder mostly to cover my back. That’s why I highly recommend investing in a few nice nursing tops – keeping covered went a long way for helping me to feel both physically and emotionally comfortable. There are also VERY few destinations where public breastfeeding would be considered inappropriate. Most countries have laws protecting the rights of breastfeeding mothers, or else they don’t because laws are not necessary.

I fully understand the awkwardness of being a guest at someone’s home and nursing. We stayed for a week with my father-in-law when my son was 6-months-old. Luckily there was a comfortable armchair in the corner of the living room where we could sit and nurse, and when it was time to pump, I was happy to be relieved of baby-duty so I could take off to our room for a few minutes with my pump and a trashy magazine. Other than the requisite jokes about breast milk in coffee, my father-in-law was good-natured about storing the milk in his fridge. How could he not be? While it wasn’t really done in his day, nowadays it’s fairly common knowledge that breast milk is the best choice for babies, and of course he wanted the best for his grandson!

 

My thanks to Bravado Designs for sharing this data with me…

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33 Responses to Solutions For Breastfeeding Concerns While Traveling

  1. Jennifer at 06:23 #

    Great post, Corinne! Glad to see you dispelling myths about BFing & travel. It’s SO easy, particularly on long plane flights! We took our kid to France (our dream destination) when he was 4 months old and still exclusively BFing. I didn’t get any strange looks or asked to cover up. In general, I got wistful comments about how most French women wean at about 3 months when they return to work and that they wish they could have nursed for longer, knowing the health, emotional and practical benefits!

    • Sarah at 00:06 #

      Jennifer- thank you for your comment and sharing your experience. My husband and I plan to travel to Spain in a couple weeks with our 6 month old who is exclusively breast feeding. She’s a great traveler and wonderful in planes but I have concerns about the time change. How did you deal with the time change in terms of your nursing schedule? Did you and baby adapt to feeding in the European time zone or did you end up feeding based on n your US schedule? I suffer from recurrent clogged ducts as well and am worried that if my BF schedule is off I will end up with clogged ducts… Not fun while on vacation!! Did you have any of these issues? Thanks so much!

  2. Erica at 07:39 #

    We’re planning to take my husband’s 3 months of unpaid parental leave to travel around Asia. Our baby will be 6-9 months old during this time, so hopefully we can have a healthy combination of breastfeeding and introducing new foods. I love figuring out how to be a mobile family and always appreciate the tips on this website!

  3. Carly at 11:36 #

    Great post! I am going to be traveling next week with a 4 week old. Also my dream destination is Turks & Caicos.

  4. Kristie at 11:38 #

    Italy!!!

  5. Sandra O at 11:58 #

    We went to Cuba with my first at 9 mths and I was still BFing. I never got any looks, anywhere! We’re planning on going somewhere in the carribean again maybe when my 2nd DS is 6 mths. I’m hoping to still be BFing, but I don’t have too many concerns as I always BF anywhere, any time. My family is very supportive of my decision and that has helped tremendously.

  6. Heather Snyder at 12:12 #

    Definitely sesame place in Pennsylvania. I don’t think I could handle more than right now with my four children. Lol…

  7. Cathy at 12:13 #

    My dream travel destination would be Orlando, FL. So many theme parks to explore!

  8. Ashley Wright at 12:36 #

    We are planning a trip to Disneyland with my nursing one year old!

  9. Becky at 12:49 #

    We took our then three month old to NYC, it was so easy not having to worry about bottles and formula. I nursed her while waiting for a table and a restaurant and I don’t think anyone even noticed! She’s now nine months are we are just back from visiting friends in Ottawa Ontario, she is busier now so the flight was a little more work but I nursed her when needed and only had warms smiles from others. Happy to say I have never had any negative experiences while traveling and nursing.. We hope to take a family vacation to Europe some day when our kids are older. 🙂

  10. amy at 13:00 #

    I’d love to go somewhere nice and warm when it’s an middle of January here!

  11. Tricia at 13:20 #

    My dream trip destination is pretty much anywhere out of Alabama, specially during the summer! 😛 So far I have two trips planned that I will be taking my daughter with me on (if she EVER decides to be born), first a trip to Colorado to see my parents & travel with them up to Canada to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving in October, and second, a trip to Disney World in February next year to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon (well, I will be running, her daddy will be on baby duty). One trip will be via aircraft, one will be a road trip. I am eager for all the travel tips I can get!

  12. Abbey Bridges at 15:21 #

    When baby gets here in February we are going to take it easy until the summer! But when summer comes along after my best friends wedding, we are going to make our favorite trip to mountain view, AR. Sounds crazy i know! it is so peaceful and lovely. Just relaxing. Cannot wait! It is one of our favorite places to go! Thanks so much for this article. I am planning to breastfeed and am so excited about it! This article is so helpful!

  13. Jennifer Weaver at 15:29 #

    My little guy is now 3 months old and will happily breastfeed anytime, anywhere!
    We just returned from a trip to Newfoundland where we were visiting his Poppy for the first time, and my baby was wonderful on the flights! He’s exclusively breastfed and I can’t imagine having to deal with bottles, steralization and storage… what a hassle that would be!
    After he did so well on that trip my husband said we should take him to Paris! What a dream come true that would be!

  14. Natalia at 02:02 #

    Well, we are going to Japan in Dec til Jan to visit with his Babci (grandma) & my brothers wife will have had their first child!!! So, it’s almost my dream travel, except that his Daddy has to stay here for work =( So, our Hope is to make it back out there with the three of us.

  15. Gloria at 08:43 #

    Our friends are getting married in Thailand next March right after we celebrate our daughter’s first birthday. We hope to be able to make it, it’d be quite the dream for us.

  16. Kathleen at 17:31 #

    My dream destination would be Holland to see the family

  17. Sarah at 19:17 #

    Definitely Greece! I just had to travel WITHOUT my 4 month old for a week overseas. While storing up milk beforehand was SUCH a challenge the big surprise was how few options there are for travelling mothers who need to pump. The options are so much more limited than breastfeeding mothers… pumping in public restroom stalls feels SO un-hygenic.

  18. Erin at 16:07 #

    I can’t really pick just one dream travel destination; I think traveling with a newborn is easier in a lot of ways than travel with my still-nursing now-two-year-old, though we’ll see how things go this time around. I’d love to go somewhere in the Caribbean this winter with both kids, though!

  19. Danielle at 18:32 #

    I am so pleased to see a post that encourages travelling mothers to keep breastfeeding. It is also the safest option for families travelling to areas where they are at risk of travellers diarrhoea. One of the main problems is that jet lag interferes with milk production so breastfeeding mothers need some good strategies to deal with this. My favourite destination with my baby (who is really a toddler now), given that we live in the tropics is anywhere that would allow us to celebrate a white Christmas. I am going to say Lake Tahoe.

  20. Becca Branton at 14:24 #

    We have already done a few small road trips with our 4 month old son but my dream place to visit would be a trip South somewhere!

  21. Kelly at 01:28 #

    We’re on our way to Italy shortly – Sardinia, Rome, Umbria and Marche (yay!). We’ll spend a month there with our toddler and 4 month old. Having nursed babies now for over 2 years I’ve mastered the walking-sling-nurse but I still prefer a nice park bench. 😉

  22. Laura at 22:28 #

    Italy for sure. We went just before getting pregnant and I’ve always wanted to head back with kids and babies.

  23. Angela at 23:07 #

    I’d love to go to the beach with my baby.

  24. Paige at 23:51 #

    I’m tempted to try to take my next one (arriving in 4 weeks) to Hawaii while on maternity leave. We’ll see!

  25. Sarah at 02:12 #

    We will hopefully be taking a family trip to Costa Rica next February…. my little guy will be 8 months old. Frankly I’ll be more concerned about his twin sisters who will be almost 3!

  26. I’m already headed out on my dream trip. I am headed to Europe for 5 weeks in October with a toddler and still breast feeding 6 month old in tow. By myself. Hubby will meet us halfway through. Needless to say staying covered up while on the go is kind of crucial. I’d rather not expose myself to the whole continent no matter how funny the toddler may find it 😉

  27. Tara at 06:43 #

    I live in Kenya with my 15 month old, and we travel everywhere, and breast feed everywhere! I love nursing tanks, and I layer them under all my shirts for easy on-the-to nursing. This week we went to Lake Elementeita in the Rift Valley – beautiful!!!

  28. Caitlin at 11:25 #

    Thanks for this great post Corinne! So informative and full of info I’ll be able to use when our little one arrives shortly. We’re already planning lots of travel for next summer and these tips will come in handy then too, no doubt!

  29. Marie at 13:49 #

    Great post, it’s nice to see you getting the word out there about how breastfeeding is really becoming accepted nearly everywhere! I travelled a lot with my first, and never had any issues with nursing – it really was the easiest thing to do. Dream destination with next baby would be Thailand! We had some friends that took their 10m/o and they had an amazing time!

  30. Aran at 23:12 #

    I’d really like to take the twins to Italy and Greece.

  31. Emily at 21:43 #

    I have to travel for work, and in the almost one year since I had my little guy I’ve pumped in eight airports (often in nursing rooms, but they weren’t always available), countless public restrooms, on 5 airplanes, including one over the middle of the Pacific ocean, one cardboard tent in the middle of a university faculty lounge, plus countless cars and hotel rooms. While things have gotten better, I can’t tell you how much stress this all caused, whether it was from forgetting a part, finding space to clean things, tying up a bathroom for 20 minutes at a time, or having the TSA open and test 30 bags of breastmilk while a queue of precheck passengers watched. I’m grateful not to have weaned at 12 weeks when I returned to work full-time, but there’s a long way to go to really supporting breastfeeding moms who work/travel.

    • Corinne at 16:46 #

      Wowza, Emily. That is amazing. Pumping is quite a production even in the easiest of circumstances.

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