You asked and I answered! If you or someone you know is a breastfeeding mama about to travel without the little one, this blog will have tons of #momtips for you before you go! I compiled a list of questions directly received from some mamas over on my instagram and added in some need-to-know tips, airline policies and personal experiences I had while traveling to Sedona last month.
Hope you find this helpful!
Q & A's:
Did TSA give you a hard time?
Not at all, I made sure to look up the TSA policy ahead of time and screenshotted it just in case. I informed the TSA worker that I had a cooler with an ice pack and breastmilk ahead of time to make things easier and more time efficient. When my bag was pulled to the side for a search I requested they change their gloves and they were very understanding. I was also warned that milk may be subject to testing however you can request for it to not be opened and then it will undergo some other sort of testing (I'm not exactly sure what but I know it's an option). If this is your plan I would suggest getting to the airport earlier than expected to allow additional time going through security.
What did you bring with you?
Elvie pump and extra parts
Medela pump for night time/in hotel room pumping
4-5 galloon size bags for dirty parts when I didn't have access to clean them
Bottle brush for cleaning
4 Medela bottles for storage until I transferred in Lansinoh bags
Rtic soft cooler and ice pack
Mini hand sanitizer
How did you plan your pumping around your vacation plans?
I thought this was gong to be a big issue with all the hiking and plans we had but we had a very good itinerary planned out ahead of time which allowed me to figure out a good schedule for pumping and figuring out when I needed to use the Elvie on the go or when I could wait to pump in the hotel room when I had an extra 10 minutes. It also helped that I traveled with one of my best friends and her husband who were very understanding! But I typically just woke up a few minutes earlier to pump before we left the hotel and stopped back in the room midday before our next excursion or pool time. It never got in the way of any of our plans.
What pump did you use?
I used my Elvie, which I know has a hefty price tag but if breastfeeding is something you are 100% committed to and plan to stick with for months while balancing a social life, I highly recommend it! It single handedly gave me my sanity back the first time after trying to only use my medela pump for the initial six months with Blakely. Now they even allow HSA/FSA funds to be used in purchasing.
Did you pump on the plane?
Yes! It was not bad at all! I timed pumping to be right before arriving to the airport and then once in mid flight. I had my galloon bags to put used pieces in until I had a place to wash them and my cooler was a carry on. I tossed the pieces in my bag and the milk in the cooler.
How and where did you store the milk?
If we were on the road or headed to a hike I brought my cooler in our rental car and filled it with ice and my freezer packs. When I got back to the hotel I put the milk in the mini fridge in our room and then stored in bags until we made flight home and transferred home in the cooler, again, filled with ice.
Did you freeze it?
You have 4 days before having to freeze freshly pumped milk. We left on Wednesday and came home Sunday, so probably a few hours over the technical 4 days but I didn't freeze it until I got home. I was too worried the frozen milk would thaw on the flight home. However, there are services you can use to ship home frozen milk and that might be easier if you are on a longer trip.
Was the hotel accommodating with any special requests?
Yes, they were very nice! They had just bought a freezer because they had so many requests from other moms and every room had a mini fridge so I had easy access to store my milk. On top of it they filled my cooler everyday with ice whenever I needed it. If your hotel doesn't have a mini fridge available for your room they have to allow you to use their own commercial one and you can label and store while staying with them. I would call ahead before arriving just to make sure it is all sorted out.
Did you check a carry on?
A pump and cooler is a medical device and does not count as your actual "carry-on". Once again I would save the policy to your phone you have it on hand if you are stopped by a flight attendant upon boarding.
Do you need special paperwork?
Not at all! Just researched airline specific policies ahead of time.
TSA guidelines here
Medical device vs Carry-on - Delta airlines policy
Shipping frozen milk services
Things I didn't bring but could've been helpful
Medela steam/sterilize bag
Wet Wipes for on the spot cleaning
Mini dish soap for bottle washing - I ended up using the hotel body wash lol
Other Breastfeeding Related Topics:
Milk supply & How to increase it
Supply is different for everyone! Even from one pregnancy to the next, you could produce a ton of milk one pregnancy and not be able to breastfeed for the next. THAT IS OKAY AND TOTALLY NORMAL! There are supplements, lactation boosting foods, techniques that can all help boost supply but nothing is a guarantee. That being said things that helped me:
pumping/ breast feeding at consistent intervals (4-5.5 hours is my sweet spot)
taking in enough calories
hydrate! hydrate! hydrate! (love using my liquidiv)
lactation boosting supplements (I love BoobieSuperfoods protein powder and snacks)
BoobieSuperfood is a great brand with many different options: protein powders, lactation bars, lactation and hair growth gummies, bark aka granola... I also swear that I can tell a big difference when I don't drink enough water (duh!) so I supplement with my Liquidiv.
Thoughts on wireless pumps
I know they are not the most affordable option (there are so many options now a days that are budget friendly) but I highly consider you to look into what brands might work for you. I CANNOT express the love and thankfulness I have for Elvie because without my pumps I would not have had a positive breastfeeding experience with Blakely and probably would've been less encouraged to do it again with Savannah. Many newer models that are less expensive are becoming more popular and I love to see it! Brands realize how much time women spend breastfeeding and pumping and any convenience added into our routine can make a huge difference mentally and emotionally.
Beginning tips and tricks
Don't hesitate to ask for help early on! Breastfeeding can contribute to postpartum anxiety and depression from day one because it can feel like there is this added pressure from society for women to have this maternal instinct and know-how but so many different factors can play a role on your breastfeeding experience with you and your baby. How's baby latching? Are they taking enough volume? Has mom's milk come in yet? Getting advice from a lactation specialist can calm so many nerves and frustrations from the get go. I had a rough start to my breast feeding journey as a FTM with Blakely. Nipples were bloody + super painful, she cluster fed from night one and I became severely engorged and it lasted for a full week.... I was miserable. I discovered a nipple shield and it saved my breastfeeding journey. It allowed Blakely to get a better latch and took away 90% of the pain/discomfort. I used a nipple shield for almost my entire breast feeding journey with Blakely and with Savannah I brought one to the hospital. I used it for the first 4 months and then decided to try feeding without it and had great success and no pain! Some specialist might tell me how bad it was that I used a nipple shield for that long with Blakely and that's just the point, everyone has an opinion but it's your luxury as the mother to decide what matters and what works for you and your baby.
My two cents on breastfeeding
Some women breastfeed some women don't. Some breastfeed for a year and others a couple months. Some produce in mass quantities and others, despite efforts to increase supply, simply can't. At the end of the day, if your baby is fed and healthy..... THEN WHO THE HECK CARES HOW THEY GET FED?! And if you are breastfeeding but your mental health becomes compromised, then mama, do what's best for YOU TOO! You get a say in this as well, even if you have no problems physically producing and feeding your baby, if you are too stressed about it and it's taking a toll on your ability to be the best mom for your family.... IT'S TIME TO STOP. Breastfeeding is the option I chose and am very fortunate enough to have done two times, but it's just that, an option... There is more than one way to feed your baby and as long as you remember that, everything will be okay!
This post has commissionable links throughout. I love being able to work with amazing brands that I specifically choose to partner with and then share ONLY brands I trust and personally use :) If you decide to use the links I thank you for your support!