Pumping On the Go: Tips for Traveling with Liquid Gold

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Let’s face it, breastfeeding is not always convenient. 

When my son was born, I was working a 40 hour a week job. My plan was to breastfeed when I was at home and on the weekends then pump as needed during the day at work. While I was pregnant and during my maternity leave, I worked on logistics. I consulted other moms. I went to lactation class before and after birth. I determined how I could make it work in my daily schedule with client and internal meetings. I had this.

The Only Constant is Change

When my son was six months old, I started traveling for work every 4-6 weeks. We are talking overnight trips and airports. This was not part of my original plan. It put me into a bit of a tailspin. I was producing just enough milk to keep about two days ahead of my son’s daily needs. Sure, I’d frozen some milk, but I’d been told to by the lactation specialists to avoid using it at all costs.

Preparing to Pump On the Go

It was hard enough being away from my precious baby and missing that daily bonding time. The least I could do was bring him home some liquid gold. I could do this. I would do this. My travel planning took additional time and I had to factor in extra logistics. It was a learning experience and had moments of frustration. In the end, it was worth it.

Tips for Traveling with Your Pump and Milk

Get TSA Pre-check. Totally worth the investment and they tend to give you less hassle on the electric pump and excess milk.

How many days will you be gone? What is your production like? Make a list of the supplies you’ll need.

Only fill your bags in 3 oz pours. You might be tempted to fill it up more depending on your production. I found that 3oz collapsed easily. Plus, if something goes wrong with the storage, you may not have to dump as much.

Check cold storage at your hotel. Does your room have a mini-fridge? If not, ask the hotel if they are willing to help you store it.

Search online for pumping stations and rooms. The larger airports are getting better about rooms or pods. However, check ahead of time. You might arrive in Terminal A, need to be in Terminal C for the pumping area and depart from Terminal D.

Consider a slightly longer layover. By the time you leave your home airport and likely make a connection, you may be ready to bust depending on your stage of breastfeeding. A longer layover may provide the relief that you need.

What work environment will you be in when you arrive? An office? A tradeshow? One trip I was at trade show in Las Vegas that I’ve been attending for more than 15 years. It is predominately men. Knowing this, I called ahead to a woman who’s on the tradeshow staff. She and her colleagues were able to find me a private room with a lock, a chair and an outlet. Another breastfeeding mom and I were the only ones with keys.

Travel Checklist for Pumping

  • Electric pump
  • Hand pump for backup
  • Medela milk bags (my brand of choice)
  • Sharpie marker
  • Smaller bottles
  • Collapsible cooler
  • Ice packs
  • Zip lock bags in case you need to create additional ice bags.
  • Yeti-type large cup with a screw top lid
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Ashley grew up in Augusta and has lived in the Wichita area for most of her life. She works full time as vice president at a marketing agency. She'd been in the workforce for 15 years and faced years of fertility challenges before being blessed with son Charlie in 2015. She met her husband, Josh, in kindergarten. The house-divided college sweethearts attended KU and K-State, starting their careers in Dallas before returning to Wichita in 2003. Not just a full-time executive and mom, she owns Josh Cook Golf Academy with her namesake husband. Ashley also enjoys volunteering as Wichita Aero Club vice chair, driving a golf cart with Josh and Charlie, drinking wine and spending time with family.