How To Travel With Breastmilk
Unless you are a ‘throw it all in a suitcase’ type of traveler, it is hard enough to move from one place to another with babies and small toddlers in tow, who may still be dependent on ‘mothers milk’.
There are ways to make life easier, it’s just a case of a little bit of organization and understanding about the cultures of overseas lands if traveling abroad – they are not always as liberal as Western nations, nor necessarily have the facilities that developed countries have.
Airports, service stations, restaurants and bars often consider lactating moms, and provide adequate and often private facilities for breastfeeding, or breastfeeding in public is widely accepted.
In some more ethnic countries unfortunately, with a strict religious code, this natural act is considered a ‘no-no’ so caution has to be taken in this event and advance preparation or ‘expressing’ your milk will need to be top of your list.
If your babies are under immunization age, breastfeeding will always be the better choice to protect your little ones.
A few things to consider:
- Travel in light clothing so that your breasts are easily accessible. There is nothing more difficult than trying to breast feed in a skinny top in a cramped environment!
- Keep the skin and nipples on your breasts well-lubricated particularly if flying, as dehydration does occur rapidly.
- Keep yourself hydrated with plenty of liquid – dehydration can affect the production of breast milk.
- Consider one of the many non-electric breast pumps, the smaller versions for traveling (in case you cannot get electricity supply). Take some extra batteries with you as well!
- Carry disinfectant wet wipes for cleaning equipment, and ensure you have clean and sterilised bottles or bags for the overflow after feeding.
Preparing For Travel With Breast Milk
You need to consider the conditions under which you are traveling – this is of paramount importance due to the ‘shelf life’ of natural breast milk and the potential dangers of it not being fit for consumption, however hard you try to keep it fresh.
You also need to consider where you are staying and the relevant conditions around you – are you camping, in a hostel or luxuriating in a 5-star hotel, the latter of which should present no problems!
In the situation if you are camping, particularly if you are still partaking in night feeds, you may like to consider being able to see properly in the dark, and make feeding or pumping stress-free.
There are plenty of ‘clip-on lights that you can attach so you can actually see what is happening!
Breast Milk Storage
If you are traveling with breast milk that has already been pumped ready for bottling or storage, there are several things to consider, particularly the mode of transport.
Are you traveling by plane? If so, there are certain regulations you need to check out before departure.
If not, then basically you can take what you like, and how you like for ease of transportation.
Traveling By Plane
In this day and age with increased security between all airports, you will be subject to scrutiny and checks.
Certain other transportation hubs may also have strict security, so it is best to adapt the same principle of making your stored breast milk easily accessible for viewing.
Airport security tends to look favourably on breast milk that has been frozen in plastic bags, as opposed to bottles.
This is also a good way to transport breast milk anyway, as these frozen bags can be used to keep other milk well cooled, bottled or not, as the frozen bags will act similarly to ice packs.
In some ways they are more effective, as the likelihood is that they should not leak, unlike big packs of frozen ice.
You can store milk in bottles between the packs, and simply run under hot water in the rest rooms aboard the aircraft, before letting your baby drink it.
If you choose to use dry ice, take note of the quantity you are allowed to take, which at the current time of checking, is 5½ lbs, and must be packed in a container that allows carbon dioxide to escape (i.e. something like a polystyrene container or a foam one).
Frozen milk will last for a long time, but once defrosted, never refreeze, but place into a refrigerator as soon as you can.
Fresh breast milk can last at room temperature for up to 4 hours before having to be placed into a refrigerator, due to the stability of this form of milk.
Any frozen milk, that has been defrosted, should be consumed within 24 hours, or subsequently thrown away.
How to pack
It is worth investing in small size airtight ziplock bags, that will carry 2-4oz of milk. This way, you have very little wastage and can use more if you require for one feed.
Also worth buying are small cloth-based lined cool bags to store your milk. You will already have lots of bags and baggage, so one of these should slot easily into your hand luggage.
If storing milk in bottles, make sure the lids are tight, and the bottle nipples are packed separately.
You can still place them into plastic bags to prevent any leakage, but if you screw the tops on tightly, this should not occur.
Try to remember to label your bags, so that you know the date and time they were prepared.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
If you feel you need more ice for cooling, always ask flight attendants or other transport attendants for ice.
Give them a couple of empty plastic bags to fill with ice then pack your remaining breast milk in between the bags to keep cool.