Pumping on the Road
I recently interviewed Sarah Ponder, a working mother who travels 6 to 8 days each month. Her youngest is one-year-old and she is still breastfeeding. This amazed me. Being a work-from-home/stay-at-home mom, I was impressed by her commitment to continue nursing for so long when she travels so often. So I asked her how she does it. The following is her step-by-step advice on how to keep her supply going even when she’s on the road:
- I bring 2-9oz bottles to pump into, then a whole stash of Lansinoh breastmilk bags (I find them to be stronger, hold more, & cheaper than Medela bags). I have a car charger, battery pack, lanolin cream & 3 oz container of Dawn dishsoap. But most importantly I have my Thermos brand soft sided lunchbag cooler. It is the best cooler I have ever used for storing my breastmilk. It keeps ice intact for 8+hours & the milk cold for 12+ hours. I typically carry a gallon Ziploc bag with me & put all my milk bags inside the ziploc bag & then inside the cooler with ice on the bottom, sides & on top.
- When going through airport screening make sure to tell the scanner you have a breastpump in the bottom of your suitcase. This will prevent them from pulling you for additional screening. When in the airport, I always look for the family bathroom because it has an outlet where you can plug in your pump to get the best power & suction. If the airport does not have a family bathroom I go into the handicap stall in the women’s restroom & hang my pump on the door & pump with the battery pack, which takes longer because it is not as strong, but gets the job done.
- Once I get to the hotel I always make sure my room has a fridge in advance. It is considered a medical necessity, so they have to provide you with one at no charge. I then make sure to wash my pump & parts in hot soapy water & hang them up to dry.
- While onsite visiting a client, I am usually able to take a lunch break to pump. But if not, I make sure I pump in the car right before I go in, using my car adapter (I am usually in a parking garage & cover up with my suit coat). I have my cooler full of ice in the trunk & can put my milk in before I go in for the meetings.
- I try to pump as many times as I normally feed Louis or when he has a bottle, this way I do not get too full or have issues with my milk supply diminishing, while I am away. This means waking up in the middle of the night, even though there is no baby to feed, which is probably the hardest thing. But well worth it.
- When I am flying back home, I pack up my cooler with all of my pumped milk & ice & make my way through security. You are able to keep your ice on your cooler & there is no limit to the amount of milk you carry with you. Because it is considered necessary, it does not apply to the 3 oz rule. Milk will always get you chosen for additional screening, this is where I get very particular. I have read the FAA regulations regarding breastmilk, so I know what they can & cannot do to your milk. When they take your bag, they have to wait for you to be present before they touch your milk. So make sure you gather all of your belongings from the belt & then follow them to the screening area. Then they are able to open the cooler, but they are not allowed to open your bottles, touch your milk inside the bottles or test the milk in any way. They can take your bottles & place them in a machine that scans them. But that is it. If they try to open my milk, I remind them of the regulations & if they continue, I ask for a supervisor right away.
- Because of new research from La Leche League, I understand you are able to keep breastmilk refrigerated for more than 3 days, so most trips I am able to carry all my milk home & don’t have to dump the liquid gold.
- Sometimes after a long trip away I notice that my milk supply has gone down a bit, which is normal. If extra feedings/pumping, oatmeal, more water, etc., don’t help to boost my supply, I supplement with Mother’s Milk tea or the More Milk Plus pills.
What has been your experience? Have you had to pump on the road? Have you been able to save your “liquid gold” or did you have to pump and dump?