6 Travel Tips For the Breastfeeding Mom
Tot Lactation Expert Rebecca Agi MS, IBCLC shares her top tips every nursing mom should know before traveling with her tot.
At first thought, traveling with a breastfeeding baby may seem difficult, but with some thinking ahead, it doesn’t have to be. Figuring out what to pack, which seat to book, and what to wear can help take the stress out of travel. Here are my top tips for traveling with your breastfed baby:
- Find the family lounges or nursing pods at the airport: Many airports across the country have now stepped up to meet the needs of nursing moms by providing nursing suites. Mamava Nursing Pods are now available in many airports and provide a clean, private space for nursing and pumping moms. You can search for a list of airports that offer this nursing amenity. Search Mamava locations.
- Reserve your seat in advance: Your seat is the best place to feed your baby. Depending on your nursing style, reserve an aisle or window seat. If privacy is your preference, the window seat is perfect as it allows you to turn your back to other passengers and get the baby latched on. As an added bonus, you’ll also have a nice ledge to rest your arm on. If privacy isn’t a priority, the aisle seat will give you a little extra elbow room and the freedom to stand up and walk around with your tot once the pilot says it’s ok. Just watch out for the drink cart!
- Nurse upon takeoff and landing: Changing cabin pressure during a flight can cause ear pain. To help equalize the pressure in your baby’s ears, breastfeed during takeoff and landing and anytime you notice the pressure getting rough on your own ears. But if your baby is able to sleep through it, just let him.
- Dress for success: You’ll want to dress in a comfortable, two-piece outfit for the flight. Wearing a loose top over a nursing tank top is also a good idea as it allows you to breastfeed and cover the baby without exposing your entire midsection. Scoop neck or V-neck tops also work well as they are easy to pull up or down.
- Stay hydrated: You need to stay well hydrated while breastfeeding, but especially when flying, since cabin pressure can make you feel a little more dehydrated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’ll need “frequent and unrestricted nursing opportunities” to maintain your milk supply while traveling. To ensure proper hydration, pack an empty water bottle and refill it before boarding or purchase a large water bottle after going through security.
- Extra things to pack in your carry-on: Breastfeeding on a plane can actually make travel easier since you won’t need any bottles. At the same time, you will want to pack some extra gear. If you’re traveling with someone else you can stow these items in the overhead compartment, but if you’re flying solo it’s best to keep it under the seat in front of you. Here’s what to should consider packing with you:
It’s always a good idea to have a few burp cloths handy to catch any spit-up.
A soft sling or carrier can make it easier to hold or carry your baby on a long flight. Slings or carriers are especially useful for walking long distances through the airport while allowing you to remain hands-free.
Extra diapers and wipes
If you nurse your tot often on the flight, you’ll want to plan for extra diaper changes. Almost all airplane bathrooms have a changing table, but you’ll still want to change baby right before boarding the plane to maximize the time until the next diaper change.
Other items to pack
- A change of clothes for both of you: Packing an extra pair of clothes can come in handy should there be any accidents, delays, or to just feel fresh when you arrive at your destination.
- Breastfeeding pillow alternative: If you’re more comfortable nursing with a pillow but don’t want to haul one on board, an airplane neck pillow can work just as well. This pillow can be especially useful for propping against the armrest to provide some extra cushioning.
- Ziploc bags: to store messy clothes and burp cloths.
With a little planning, nursing your tot in the airport or on the plane can actually make travel easier than you might think. Good luck!