Breastfeeding and Traveling

Travel tips for Breastfeeding on a plane, on a train, or on a car (road) trip.
Breastfeeding on an airplane can help keep your baby happy. Charles Gullung/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Traveling With Your Breastfed Baby

Traveling with a breastfed baby is easy.  You don't have to worry about packing bottles, mixing formula, heating formula, or cleaning all the supplies. With a breastfed baby, you have less to pack and less to do.  As long as you have your baby and your breasts, you're good to go. Your breast milk will be available and already warm when it's feeding time. 

If you're not traveling with your baby, the most important pieces of luggage to bring along on your trip are your breast pump, insulated cooler, and ice packs.

When traveling on a plane or a train, you'll probably need to use a hand pump or one that is battery-powered. However, if you're traveling by car, you're in luck. Most electric pumps come with a car charger (or you can buy it separately).

What To Wear When You're Traveling With Your Breastfed Baby

In addition to an easy to hook and unhook nursing bra, wearing comfortable, loose clothing is ideal. Also, a cover-up is nice to have for the sake of being a bit more discreet when you're nursing in public, or very close to the person next to you on a plane or a train. The loose clothing is often enough to keep you covered, but for the more modest mom, a cover-up, scarf, or shawl can give you that extra privacy that you want. 

How To Prepare For Traveling With A Breastfed Infant

If your baby will be traveling with you, you're already prepared. Just make sure you bring enough burp cloths, extra baby clothes, and diapers.

If your child will not be traveling with you, it requires a little more thought and planning. You'll need to prepare a pumping schedule around the times that the baby would typically be breastfeeding. And, depending on how long you plan to be away from your baby, you will need to figure out what you're going to do about your breast milk.

For a short weekend getaway, it should be fine to store your breast milk in a refrigerator and bring it back home with you. However, if you will be away in Europe for two weeks on business, you will need a different storage solution. Many moms have packed up their breast milk and shipped it to their child overnight on dry ice!

Breastfeeding On An Airplane

After the Delta Airlines debacle of 2006, many women did not want to attempt to breastfeed on a plane for fear of being kicked off. But, you are actually very well-protected by law to breastfeed in public. You do NOT have to change your seat if someone complains. They can move theirs!

Aside from the legal issues, breastfeeding on a plane is the best way to keep your baby relaxed and calm. If you breastfeed during take-off and landing, it helps to prevent ear discomfort in your baby from the air pressure changes within the cabin. The sucking and swallowing can relieve the pressure and make your baby an excellent traveling companion. That makes everyone happy.

Breastfeeding On A Train

Traveling by train is a very nice way to take a trip with a breastfeeding baby. The seats in a train are usually spacious, so you can breastfeed your baby comfortably.

It's also nice because you're not bound to your seat. You can get up and walk around to calm or burp your baby. This flexibility adds to the relaxing experience of train travel.

Breastfeeding and Car Travel

It is not recommended, for obvious reasons, to breastfeed in a moving car. If you're taking a road trip, you'll have to pull over to the side of the road or into a rest stop to breastfeed your baby. The great news is that babies tend to sleep beautifully in the car (which is why people talk about driving their colicky babies around), so after a solid feed they're sure to knock right out.

Trick-of-the-trade: If you've got a crying baby in the car and your driving partner needs to run into a store, turn on the windshield wipers.

It mimics the sound of your heartbeat that the baby hears in the womb and will immediately calm him down.

Edited by Donna Murray

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