Area Partner Patrick SFB, FL
As a military member or spouse, you may consider yourself a seasoned traveler. You may have traveled extensively domestically or abroad, navigating various forms of transportation like a seasoned pro. But after the birth of your baby, you may find yourself wondering how to navigate travel with your little one in tow, especially while breastfeeding. The thought of traveling with your breastfeeding baby may seem overwhelming at first, but with a little preparation and flexibility, you’ll soon be blazing new trails.
No matter how you plan to travel, having a flexible breastfeeding travel plan will help reduce your stress and set you and your baby up for success. Here are some tips and tricks for traveling with your breastfeeding baby:
- Stick to a routine: Babies thrive on routine. While times and location may vary when traveling, following a similar routine of feeding, sleeping and playing will help your baby find familiarity in the unfamiliar.
- Make a list, and check it twice: Consider items you may need to bring along with you to help make feedings easier while traveling. Wear a nursing bra or nursing friendly clothing. Bring your breast pump and milk storage containers, and have a baby carrier to help make breastfeeding easier while on the go. Be sure to bring extra diapers, wipes, pacifiers and a change of clothes for your baby.
- Wear your baby: Baby carriers keep your baby close while also keeping your hands free. Keeping your baby close helps you read their feeding cues and provides for discreet, on-the-go and on demand feedings.
- Know your rights: If you will be traveling in the US, all 50 states, including the District of Columbia (as well as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands), have laws in place to protect breastfeeding in any public or private location. You have the right to breastfeed anywhere and are not required to “cover up.”
- Lactation rooms/pods: While you are not required to breastfeed in any specific place, many mothers feel more comfortable away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds. Lactation rooms or pods provide a clean, quiet space with a locked door for uninterrupted breastfeeding or pumping. They also should provide a power outlet for powering your breast pump. Many airports provide lactation pods by Mamava that provide a clean, private place to pump or breastfeed. They can be easily located by downloading the app, which also unlocks the pod.
- Inflight feedings: If you will be flying, consider breastfeeding during takeoff and landing to protect your baby’s ears from changing cabin pressure. Sucking and swallowing helps clear their ears and prevent ear pressure and pain.
- TSA and breast milk: In the US, expressed milk is exempt from TSA regulations that limit the quantity of liquids that can be carried through security checkpoints and onboard flights. At the beginning of the screening process, notify the TSA agent that you are carrying expressed milk. The milk will be screened separately.
- Accept assistance: Whether it is checking a stroller at the gate or early boarding for families with small children, accept any assistance offered. Every little bit helps.
- Give yourself extra time: When traveling with a baby, expect the unexpected. Long lines, a last minute diaper change, a gate change or a tight connection can cause added stress. Try to give yourself plenty of extra time to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
I hope that you will find some of these travel tips helpful as you prepare to travel to see family and loved ones this holiday season. If you have any questions or travel suggestions, please comment on our Facebook post to connect with our community of military families.