Going on a family vacation soon? If this is your first time to go on a trip as a breastfeeding Momma, we know the packing list alone might get quite overwhelming. While we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, you also have safety and sanitation to keep in mind. Even if your destination is already safe for babies and toddlers, it would still be a good idea to take the necessary precautions like hand washing, wearing of face masks for adults, and social distancing. There are many things to consider but with preparation you can make your travel experience while breastfeeding as smooth as possible.
To help you out, we’ve put together a couple of tips about what to bring, what to do, and what to expect as you go on your trip!
Nursing Cover or Nursing Top
If you prefer a little more coverage while breastfeeding, especially in public spaces, bring a nursing cover with you or wear a nursing top. Sometimes, it can be tricky to find a private spot, so a nursing cover will be very useful. Breastfeeding in public is widely accepted in many cultures, but if you’re more comfortable with a bit of privacy, there’s nothing wrong with covering up.
Extra Clothes, Breast Pads, and Wipes
You can’t prevent spit ups and blowouts, so it would be a good idea to pack extra clothes and wipes in your carry-on. If you have more room in your bag, you can also pack an extra nursing top or cover for yourself in case of accidental spills and breast pads for leaking. It would be great to have hand sanitizers, alcohol, and extra cleansing wipes as well so you can sanitize surrounding surfaces.
Portable Pump and Breast Milk Storage Bags
If you’re on-the-road or on a plane, consider investing in a portable pump and milk storage bags. In the event that you’ll need to express milk while it’s not yet your baby’s feeding time, and there’s no outlet available, a portable pump would be very helpful. When you express milk, you’ll also need to store them safely so milk storage bags are a must. There are some that come with a zipper seal and spout so you can easily pore them in a bottle if needed. Just be sure to store your milk in an insulated cooler bag to preserve them.
Dry, chapped, and sore nipples are part of the breastfeeding journey whether at home or while traveling. Don’t forget to bring your handy nipple cream or balm when you go on a trip to provide you with much needed relief. Many nipple creams and balms come in small packaging so they’d definitely be suitable for traveling.
Sanitizers and Disinfectants
Arm yourself with your alcohol, hand sanitizers, hand soaps, and wipes. Always be sure to clean surrounding surfaces such as tables, countertops, and chairs as well as frequently touched objects like doorknobs, toys, your car keys, and mobile phones. Keep your face masks on whenever you’re going outside and maintain social distancing. You can also opt to bring your own utensils if you’ll be eating out.
Nurse During Takeoff and Landing if Traveling by Plane
Airplane pressure can be really uncomfortable especially on baby’s ears, so it would be a good idea to nurse during takeoff and landing. The sucking motion will ease that pressure by keeping the ears unclogged. This will keep your baby more comfortable during the plane ride.
Avoid Crowded and Enclosed Spaces
Try to choose a destination with lots of open space, so you and your kids can breathe in fresh air. A bigger area with less people, like a vacation house with just you and your family, may also help make you feel more at ease while you breastfeed. You can even opt to bring your own food and drinks to avoid eating out, if you prefer.
Get a Window Seat on a Plane
If you have the option of choosing your seat, try to get the window seat. Being nestled in a corner will give you more privacy as you breastfeed your baby on a plane. If you are conscious about breastfeeding in a plane full of passengers, a seat by the window may make you more comfortable. If you are able to, try to get a seat a couple of rows away from other people for safety.
Plan Pit Stops During Road Trips
Make sure to plan pit stops on your route where you can safely and comfortably nurse your baby. By law, your baby must always be in a car seat while on a moving vehicle, so that means you cannot feed while driving. Plan ahead by marking your stopovers and how many stops you’ll need to make so you can feed your baby whenever he/she needs to eat. But while we’re still practicing social distancing, you might want to limit the number of pit stops as well to avoid going out too much and interacting closely with other people.
Stick to Your Feeding Schedule as Much as You Can
Try to stick to your baby’s regular feeding schedule to avoid stress for both you and your baby. Expressing your milk regularly will also help maintain your supply. Some Moms like to feed their baby before a long car ride to make sure their baby is fed and soothed before the drive, and as mentioned, it is also recommended to nurse during takeoff and landing if you’re traveling by plane.
It Might Not Be Easy The First Time But Hang in There
Babies will cry on the plane or while on the road, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Soothe your baby by nursing or distracting him/her with toys. There’s a first time for everything, and much like getting the hang of breastfeeding at home, traveling will also take some getting used to. Don’t be too hard on yourself, Mom!
Public Breastfeeding is Acceptable in Many Countries
The world has come a long way and breastfeeding in public is widely accepted by many cultures. Several countries, including the Philippines, US, and European countries, have laws that specifically stipulate allowing Mothers to nurse their infants in public spaces. Breastfeeding is a right and you should not be ashamed to nourish your baby.
You Can Ask for Help
You’ll be traveling with companions, after all, so don’t be shy to ask for their help. There’s no harm in asking for some assistance to make the whole trip easier and more enjoyable even. Ask your husband to take turns holding your baby while on the plane or have him be the designated driver on a road trip. You can also designate your husband to cleaning and sanitizing surfaces before you sit and feed your baby. You can also ask for assistance from airport staff if you need help locating a lactation station.
Novak, Sara, Your Ultimate Guide to Traveling While Breastfeeding, August 2020.
Stump, Nasreen, Breastfeeding Tips: A Complete Guide for Travel.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Travel Recommendations for Nursing Families.