Traveling for Work Without Baby and Still Breastfeeding

Updated on February 04, 2010
A.B. asks from Chicago, IL
12 answers

I will be having to travel via airplane for work and am still breastfeeding. I was hoping to get some advice from those who have done it. Some of my trips may be same day and I am curious how to keep the milk cold when not at a hotel and being unable to freeze it. If on the road all day with no set location are there any suggestions on a good cooler pack to keep milk good and cold for 12 hours or so? Also for those overnight trips, is it best to freeze the milk when possible? Has anyone shipped milk? How have you stored it - bags and any trouble with security and bringing milk though the checkppint? Any advice or tips about flying without your baby and keeping your milk would be great.

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answers from Jacksonville on

If you can pump as much as you can BEFORE you leave, then the baby will have food. But to keep the flow coming, on your trip, especially if only for a day or two, just either bring a cooler/ice pack or pump and dump. If you really don't want to waste it, then see if you can get a cooler and keep packing it with ice from convenience stores, restaurants, etc until you get home.



answers from Indianapolis on

Whenever I had to travel for work (which was probably 3-4 occasions while nursing), I pumped and dumped. It's so hard to keep the milk cold enough that I felt comfortable giving it to my son after that period of time. I hated to dump the milk, but to my knowledge (unless TSA regulations have changed) you can NOT bring breastmilk through without the baby accompanying you.

Here's TSA's website so you can either verify or call:

I was fortunate to produce enough breastmilk and to have enough in storage that I didn't need to rely upon those quantities. However, I wanted to keep my production up as best as possible. The longest I needed to pump away from home was 4 days on a business trip when my son was 4 months old. My production waned a little, but he was able to get it back up very quickly upon my return.



answers from Dallas on

When I had to travel, I bought one of those foil grocery bags at the grocery store and used ice packs (or bring zip lock bags and keep refilling with ice) to keep the milk cold. I checked my luggage without any problem (and made sure to cushion the pump really well in the luggage to prevent damage). I wouldn't freeze it, because once frozen you have to use the milk pretty quickly as you can't re-freeze it.
For overnight stays, ask if you can have a room with a refridgerator (at the time I didn't know if was an option and kept filling the ice bucket with ice to keep the milk cold!)



answers from Chicago on

I've done this many times, unfortunately. It's a pain, but you CAN do it. First, tell the hotel you have a medical need for a refrigerator in your room. They won't question it, and even if they do, you DO have a need.

Second, I would not freeze the milk - it lasts longer if it's fresh. My rule of thumb is 8 hours at room temp, 8 days in the fridge, 3 months in the freezer, and 24 hours once it's been thawed. So best to keep it cold, but not frozen.

I store in bags. Bring a bunch and also bring a small hard-sided igloo cooler. Last time I traveled and pumped, which was in June, they allowed me to carry my milk on with me. I asked the TSA person at the security checkpoint on my way into the secure area just in case. Thing is, you will have no frreezer to get your gel packs cold. So what I do is take a 1/2 gallon ziplock bag or two and bring them, empty, with me. Then you can fill them with ice from the hotel ice machine and pack your milk and the ice into your cooler right before you leave the hotel. I also bring a small soft-sided cooler bag thingy and fill my ziplock with ice from the hotel each morning, and then stick it in the bag. That way when I pump on the road I can just stash my day's worth in the soft cooler until I can get it back to the hotel. If you will be at a conference I suggest you ASK THE ORGANIZER for a place to pump. You will be surprised at how accomodating they are. One workshop that I was at, they were able to secure a vacant hotel room for me to use for pumping for a couple days. That beat the heck out of trying to pump in a bathroom stall, which I've also done! If you will be on the road in a car, you can always bring a car adapter for your pump, and this works ok too.

As for how to feed your baby while you're gone, I built up a freezer stash before I left. So last year I was gone for 4 days and had an exclusively nursing baby. I pumped an extra 4-5 oz/day for the month preceeding my trip, so that I would have plenty of milk in the freezer for her when I was gone. I've never shipped, though you can do this Fed Ex if you need to I suppose.

Best of luck! It's not great, but it can be done. Make sure you pump right before getting on the plane or to the airport, because you do NOT want to be pumping on the plane!!



answers from Chicago on

I carried frozen milk on a plane trip to Hawaii that stayed frozen for about 12-14 hours. I used the cooler that came with my Medela pump and a LOT of ice packs.
I also work 24 hour shifts and often kept my milk cold for 12 or more hours using the same thing. Also suggest keeping zip lock bags in your purse and getting fresh ice at restaurants/convention centers etc to replenish any that my melt throughout the day.
Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,

I traveled and did not find it too difficult. I stayed in hotel rooms with a refrigerator. The only down side was that sometimes the refrigerators were not cold enough and I would have to keep it on ice. I would bring a thermometer so you can check the temperature of the fridge. I just used bags of ice and had the hotels freeze my ice packs for me. When not in a hotel try to keep it at room temperature as long as you can and then put it on ice and it should be fine.

Storage was just a zip freezer bag (like a lunch bag). Each set of breast milk was placed in a Ziploc bag in case of spill.

I never had any trouble going through security

Downside for airports and business centers are there are not private areas to pump in. I would always ask and they would put me in someone's office. Unfortunately there were many times I did pump in a bathroom instead of being in public.

It is a huge commitment but with dedication it is doable. I never had the heart to pump and dump I just couldn't do it.
Good luck



answers from Denver on

I have experienced this too. I pumped and saved while at my home office, but for airport travel and overnight - I dumped. Agree with other poster - too risky to be "sure" it's not spoiling AND I would make sure you can bring breastmilk through the airport w/o the baby. If you can ship it - that may work best! Good luck and hang in there - it's a pain, but worth it!



answers from Chicago on

check with your HR
my husbands company offers a pump and a system that mails your milk home
the pump company was limerick they have a website
they had dry ice and packaging for mom's who travel for work



answers from Chicago on

TSA does allow you to bring breastmilk without your baby. All you have to do is tell them that you have breastmilk before going through screening. I travelled several times for work while breastfeeding and never had a problem getting through security (it was in a cooler with an ice pack). If it's an overnight trip, ask the hotel if they have refrigerators. A couple hotels that I stayed at let you rent one even if the room didn't normally come with one. One trip, I stored it in the lunch room at the office where I travelled (in a cooler so you couldn't tell what it was). It's kind of a pain, but seemed worth it. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I pumped and dumped it while traveling. I know it's really hard to dump out your "hard earned" milk, but I didn't want to worry about the extra gear to store it. Plus, I would be concerned that it stayed cold the entire time.

There's too much else to think about while on the road. It made the trips less stressful to just dump it.



answers from Chicago on

I've traveled quite a bit - even to Costa Rica for 4 days without the baby. I brought an insulated bag with multiple ice packs. I ended up pumping nearly 100 oz. I had a refrigerator in my room and I froze my milk. That way, between the frozen milk, the ice packs and the insulated bag, I ensured the milk stayed cold. In fact, most of my baggies were still frozen when I got home after hours of traveling. If there is no freezer in your room, ask the hotel if you can use one of theirs - I have done that many times and it has never been a problem. And as for traveling with breast milk, there are no limitations. I had no problems with customs bringing in my copious milk supply back from Costa Rica :) Best of luck - you'll be fine!



answers from Champaign on

I had to take a 4-day business trip while breastfeeding. It was difficult but not impossible. First, make sure that whatever hotel you are staying at has a refrigerator/freezer in it. Definitely freeze the milk. That way, while you're on your way home it will stay cold in a small, soft-sided cooler. If you are going for just a day trip and won't have access to a refrigerator, take a soft-sided cooler and several ice packs. This will hopefully get you through the length of the work day. You may also be able to stop at a convenience store for extra ice if the ice packs melt. Finally, remember to bring lots of batteries for your pump! If you have to pump in a public restroom, you're not likely to have access to a power outlet. I always kept a stash of batteries in the bag with my pump just in case. Good luck!

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