If you’re a working mom who travels for business, you’re well aware of the challenges that come along with balancing home life and work life. If you’re a new mom who’s nursing and heading back to a job that involves business travel, the challenges are even greater. So, how do you manage?
While breastfeeding may be one of the most natural things in the world, there are still lots of swirling opinions on the subject. If you’re about to travel for business and have to either nurse your baby or pump milk on the go, here are some tips to help you navigate this sometimes-tricky territory.
At the Airport
Before you leave on your trip, you’ll want to do some research and find out what the rules are at the airports you’ll be traveling through. If you’ve pumped milk in advance, find out how much you can bring through security with you and what the rules are in terms of how you transport it.
The TSA offers advice here about traveling with breast milk. You may want to print this out and keep it with you when you’re traveling. You’ll also want to find the same information for international airports you’ll be visiting. In the U.S., breast milk is subject to screening but you can tell a TSA officer if you don’t want the milk X-rayed and they’ll take different measures. You can also ask them to change their gloves before inspecting any breast milk storage containers, which should be kept as sterile as possible.
Some women are perfectly comfortable pumping or breastfeeding their baby in public. But if you prefer a bit of privacy, consider paying for lounge access if you don’t already have it—you can find the nearest lounge with LoungeBuddy right in the TripIt app. And find out if the airport you’re in has a dedicated space for nursing mothers. Philadelphia International Airport, for example, has a Mothers’ Nursing Station, which is a private room free of charge for the first 30 minutes, perfect for breastfeeding or pumping.
On the Airplane
If you’re not sure what to expect on the airplane, you can start by calling the airline and finding out what their policy is on breastfeeding on the plane (most will say it’s up to the discretion of the passenger) and what the carry-on rules are. For instance, are nursing mothers allowed extra carry-on items that contain your pump and stored milk?
Hopefully, you’ve chosen your seat wisely in advance. A middle seat is not ideal for breastfeeding or pumping. If you’re stuck in the middle, set up a Seat Tracker alert with TripIt Pro and we’ll let you know if a better option opens up. While a window seat might give a bit more privacy, an aisle seat will make it easier for you to get up, use the bathroom and will give you more elbow room to maneuver your baby or your pumping equipment.
And speaking of equipment, you’ll want to book a seat with an electrical outlet if you need to plug a pump in. SeatGuru.com identifies seats with outlets on almost every airline and aircraft. Otherwise, a manual pump or a rented hospital grade pump that you can charge in advance will eliminate the need for electrical power while flying.
When you get on the plane, let a flight attendant know that you’ll be breastfeeding or pumping and chances are, they’ll be happy to help facilitate the experience for you. If there’s an empty row, they may allow you to move so you can have more privacy. And don’t forget that breastfeeding your little on takeoff and landing can help to reduce earaches caused by the change in air pressure.
TIP: Remember to drink lots of water while you’re flying because both flying and breastfeeding can really dehydrate you. Ask the flight attendant for an extra cup of water when the drink cart comes around or bring a refillable bottle with you that you can fill once you go through security.
At your Destination
Nursing and pumping at home is one thing. But on the road, you may really miss the comfort of the familiar and your support system. While you’re on the road, you can reach out to local organizations for support if you need it. La Leche League International is an organization whose mission is to support, encourage and educate about breastfeeding and they provide La Leche ‘leaders’ in countries around the world who can provide assistance if you need it.
Download the app Mamava, which will help you find breastfeeding- and pumping-friendly locations around the world as well as “Mamava Suites,” modular suites that offer breastfeeding mothers a clean and beautifully designed space to pump/breastfeed when they’re away from home or at work.
Using a baby carrier like an Ergobaby not only makes it easy to get around with baby when you’re traveling but also provides a discreet way to nurse your baby while you’re in public.
And don’t forget to bring all the right adapters you’ll need for your pump if you’re traveling internationally. Your hotel should be able to supply the correct ones or you can find adapters in local shops, but why take the chance because when a mama needs to pump, she needs to pump!
6 Essentials for Nursing Moms on the Go
The Willow Breast Pump will turn you into a multitasking machine and help you pump discreetly while doing other things. It’s not available yet, but this revolutionary new pump is worth the wait!
The Ergobaby carrier is the comfortable and stylish way to carry your baby around, especially when traveling but is also ideal for discreet nursing when you’re on the go.
This pretty nursing cover is perfect if you’d prefer a little privacy when you’re nursing in public. Best of all, it has a patented rigid neckline that allows baby to get some air and for you to make eye contact with baby.
A nursing pillow like the Boppy will make feeding comfier for mom and baby, especially in cramped quarters, like on an airplane.
This stylish black and white top doesn’t look like a nursing top but it makes nursing easy and discreet. Pairs easily under a blazer or with a pair of jeans!
If baby is bottle-fed, you know how messy that can be. Protect baby’s outfit (and yours, too!) with these handy and super-stylish and lightweight muslin cotton bibs.