5 Tips for Flying and Traveling with a Breast Pump

tips for flying with breast pump

Flying with a baby whose only mode of communication is loud crying isn’t easy. People in the flight are going to roll their eyes and mumble “could you please make him stop?” a lot in their minds.

But you, the mama bear got to be strong and handle the situation calmly. Lugging around a breast pump with, pumping and storing milk in a flight or car is not going to make things any more difficult than it already is.

I have done it numerous times and have never faced any issue. The first two or three times were a little shaky since it was very new to me. But with the help of the internet, a dash of practice and a sprinkle of experience, I eventually mastered the holy art of flying and traveling with a baby.

I am writing this to help out all those new mammas who are going through what I had been through 8 years ago. Let’s just say I owe it to the web community who helped me the most inane parenting stuff at the click of a button.

So without any further ado, here are 5 tried and tested hacks that’ll help you travel with a breast pump and pump on-the-move like a dayum pro:

1.Read the TSA Guidelines Thoroughly

Read the TSA guideline between the lines before you fly internationally with your kid. Breast milk is considered medical liquid, which is why it’s ok to carry more than 3 ounces.

Call the airlines beforehand to know if they can make special arrangements for pumping discreetly at the airport. Many U.S airports have had private lactation rooms since 2018. So do some recon and you will find a suitable place for nursing and pumping at every terminal. Also, I’d suggest you always carry the pump in the cabin since checked-in bags have a potential risk of getting lost. Make sure the milk is completely frozen and put it in a cooler bag along with ice packs.

Tell the airport authority that you’ll be pumping in the plane. At the security checkpoint, the authority might either ask you to open the bottle for inspection or arrange for an alternate screening method, if needed. This could take a while, so be patient.

2.The Prep-work before Pumping

In the flight, you will have to either pump in your seat or in the restroom. The latter is definitely a better option since it would be awkward to have all eyes on you while pumping. If you are on a long flight, head to the restroom in the morning as your milk flow will be at its peak at that right.

Make sure you have the pumping kit pre-assembled and everything else you need for the task (wipes, bottles, zip lock bag, nursing cover) is within your reach. Wear a comfortable nursing bra. If the restroom isn’t available, do it in your seat with panache. Breast pumping is the most natural thing for a mother to do. To hell with the people staring at you.

3. Choose the Right Pumping Device

This is very crucial. The breast pump for travel purpose are quiet, battery-powered, convenient to hook and unhook, hands-free, portable and easy to clean. Some pumping kits also come with a nifty organizer bag as well as a cooler to make your pumping ordeal a lot easier in a flight, car or public transport.

4. Safely Pumping on a Plane

If you are flying alone with your baby, it’s best to carry a wearable, lightweight, and quiet pump with minimal parts to assemble. 

Whenever you need to pump, put on the nursing cover, fit the pump under your bra and switch it on. There’s no need to feel awkward. Act confident and relaxed while the pump does it’s job.

However, if you are really not up for pumping on your seat and your baby is old enough to sit alone for a couple of minutes, head to the restroom. 

Make sure to carry everything you need and keep the pumping duration limited to 10-15 minutes (unless the flight is almost empty). I’d suggest waiting until the queue in from the restroom is gone. 

Also, it would be better to inform the flight attendant about what you’re using the restroom for. That’ll make sure no one knocks the door and interrupts your quick pumping session.

5. Check with Your Hotel for Storage Facility

Storing the pumped milk safely while traveling can be tricky. When we were traveling with 4-months-old Jason, we called the hotel or cruise to check if they can arrange a freezer in the room. Also, don’t forget to carry a bunch of zip lock bags and a cooler with you as I have mentioned before.

After pumping, refrigerate the milk in 1-2 Oz. bags and store them in the freezer section. Bottom line, do some hotel recon before booking the room.

The Bottom Line

Having all said and done, pumping milk in an un-homely environment could still be challenging since it can delay the let-down. To counter that problem, either record a video of your baby and watch it in the restroom while pumping.

Increase skin-to-skin by wearing your baby in the plane seat while pumping. Most of all, take care of your body. Stay fresh, well-hydrated and munch on some healthy snacks in the flight. And also, don’t forget to enjoy your flight. If you follow the right strategy, you will have a great flight even with all the pumping, nursing and storing hassle.