Whether it’s your first or fourth baby, you’re tired. Depending on your circumstances and/or level of desperation, you may finally be ready to get away… (gulp!) without baby. Luckily, with a little bit of advanced planning, choosing to breastfeed does not have to render vacationing a thing of the past. Whether for business or pleasure, here are a few tips to make your getaway while nursing a smooth one.
1. Stock Your Freezer
Perhaps you’ve already stored enough milk to feed an entire daycare, but if not, start now. Depending on your supply and timing, you will likely need to add a few pumping sessions to your pre-trip prep work. Remember, due to circadian rhythms and hormone fluctuations, it’s always easiest to express milk in the morning, so that’s the ideal time to start stocking up.
2. Empower Your Babysitter
Whoever said don’t cry over spilled milk, never pumped. To help ensure your stored milk lasts throughout your time away, have the babysitter “pace” all bottle feedings. Baby should be (1) fed upright to slow the flow of milk from the bottle, (2) allowed to control the bottle and not have the nipple forced into his mouth, and (3) encouraged to pause frequently between sips. Paced feedings allow baby’s brain the time necessary to register the “I’m full” satiation signal, preventing unnecessary wasting of valuable resources.
3. Keep Time
Pump according to your body’s clock and not the one in your hotel lobby. Your pumping schedule needs to mimic baby’s feeding schedule back home. A 9 PM feeding in New York becomes a 3 AM pumping session in Paris, so keep time zones in mind when planning your trip.
4. Keep Frequency
Don’t miss a pumping session! Of course, it’s easy to lose track of time when having fun, so set a timer. To protect your milk supply, you must express your milk at least as often as you do back home. Your baby is much more efficient at removing milk from your breasts than the pump, so if you see milk output starting to dwindle, add another pumping session to the day’s itinerary. If possible, consider using a hospital-grade breast pump while at the hotel and a personal pump while on the town.
5. Bring the Gear
Don’t forget your pump, an adapter (if necessary), milk storage bags, an insulated tote bag with ice packs, a backpack for your pump, and extra nursing pads—you’ll likely leak more often while away from baby. Discreet and waterproof, Lily Padz are a great option for vacation.
6. Learn Hand Expression
Mommy brain happens: You travel across town only to realize that you left your pump and storage bags back at the hotel. And your boobs are about to burst! Don’t fret. If you have learned hand expression (YouTube is a great teacher), emergency averted. Simply open a sealed water bottle and dump the water (don’t worry about a few water droplets remaining), then hand express into the bottle, close it, throw it in your purse, and off you go!
7. Don’t Pump and Dump, EVER!
You worked way too hard to waste your milky goodness. Speak to your hotel in advance about providing freezer storage for your milk. On the road, use an insulated tote bag with ice packs. Your milk is sturdy: Even at room temperature, freshly pumped milk is safe for up to 6 hours.
8. Bring Milk Home
To get your milk home, advance planning is key. If exclusively breastfeeding, expect to collect between 25-30 ounces (almost 2 lbs) of breastmilk per day, plus the weight of the ice packs. Depending on your mode of travel and the amount with which you are traveling, your milk may travel with you or be shipped separately.
Don’t give up on breastfeeding just because it doesn’t work with your lifestyle. Breastmilk is powerful stuff! With a little bit of advanced planning, you can even get away without baby. For more travel tips for the nursing mom, please contact Ybreast at firstname.lastname@example.org