Travel Tips for Nursing Mothers
Many new mothers are committed to breastfeeding their babies, if they’re able to. Breastmilk is instantly on hand and contains many substances that boost your baby’s immune system, so it is the safest food and drink for your baby while travelling. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, you won’t have to worry about unclean water supplies or sterilising bottles. Here are some tips on how to breastfeed while traveling.
1.Always Give Yourself Ample Time
Whether you are driving to your destination or catching a flight, leaving early will give you sufficient time to nurse your baby when needed, without rushing and stressing about running late.
2. Make a Checklist
Here are some essentials:
- A wheeled suitcase that easily glides through the airport – four-wheeled suitcases tend to work best for traveling parents.
- Spare changes of clothes for you and your baby in your diaper bag. Bring breastfeeding tops that pull away quickly and easily.
- Breast pump. Consider taking a single manual pump, which is generally more compact than electronic pumps and therefore easier to store and take with you. A manual pump also does not require a power source.
Quick tip: Experts advice against cleaning your breast pump parts in plane washrooms, due to the risk of bacterial contamination. Instead, store them in clean, resealable bags for cleaning when you reach your destination.
- A burp cloth.
- A travel neck pillow which doubles up as a nursing pillow.
- Disinfectant wipes to clean the plane seat and any other surfaces.
- Sanitizer. Remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before pumping or handling your pumping equipment, since airplanes and airports can expose you to a lot of germs.
- A comfortable, lightweight cover up to drape over yourself while breastfeeding (scarves and shawls work well for travelers). If you wish to maximise your privacy on the plane, a window seat is the best option. People will not bump into you and you’ll avoid hot drinks being passed over you.
Quick tip: Encourage your baby to nurse during take-off and landing. The sucking-swallowing action will help ease the pressure in their ears and if you are lucky, will soothe them to sleep.
- Water to stay hydrated and healthy snacks like nuts and dried fruit.
- Pre-sterilized, sealable bags that are specially designed for storing breast milk. You can also use hard plastic or glass containers — just make sure whatever you use is clean and tightly sealed.
- Ice packs and a small cooler (eg. a compact insulated lunchbox) to store milk. This way, your milk will stay fresh for 24 hours. You’ll be able to give it to your baby that day or the next, or take it to your destination and stick it in a fridge or freezer for longer storage.
Quick tip: In the hotel, turning the mini fridge to its coldest setting is actually cold enough to freeze the milk in some fridges.
- Nipple cream
3. Know the Airline’s Restrictions
Do your homework beforehand, so that you don’t have to experience the heartache of throwing away your breast milk. For Singapore Airlines, you can bring up to 1000ml of Liquids, Aerosol and Gels (LAG) on board, and this includes breast milk. The weight of the breast milk is included as part of your 7kg free cabin baggage allowance. The breast milk must be stored in containers not exceeding 100ml each. Note: all the containers must fit in a 1L resealable plastic bag.
4. Know the Country’s Breastfeeding Laws
For mothers who choose to nurse their babies without pumping and bottles, international travel presents a few additional considerations. Nursing mothers in the US and most European countries have public breastfeeding rights. Research on the country you are visiting, especially if the culture there is conservative. Your research will educate you on whether you have to look for specially designated nursing rooms (U.A.E), or if you can freely breastfeed (like in Australia).
5. Stay Happy and Healthy
Even if you usually have few issues with milk supply, consider three main factors that can influence milk production: hydration, food, and sleep. Each of these factors can fluctuate in the chaos of a travel day. Being aware of your food and water intake, as well as your daily rest, will go a long ways toward ensuring your baby is happily fed each day.