9 Tips for Breastfeeding While Traveling

breastfeeding momTraveling with your baby on an airplane can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Breastfeeding moms can do a few simple things to help baby stay happy and also be content and relaxed himself. I spoke with International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Donna Bruschi for expert tips on how to breastfeed with ease and confidence when you're traveling.


Donna has helped thousands of women breastfeed -- she is an advocate for all mothers. She also breastfed her own three babies -- including twins -- for a combined total of over 12 years. Her children are now adults, but as an IBCLC she helps new moms and babies daily. She wants moms to know their rights and feel empowered ... even when they are away from home. Here are her tips on breastfeeding while traveling.

1. Know you have the right. If you already breastfeed your baby anytime and anywhere, then keep doing so. You won't have to pack a pump, cooler, and bottles. You won't have to bring milk through security. You won't have to worry about spoiled milk or running out. You have everything you need to keep your baby content, for however long your journey is. Federal law protects your right to breastfeed your baby in public. This includes the airport waiting areas, on the plane (during certain times), and other public transportation areas. 

2. Check with your airline. If you are uncomfortable with nursing in public, look into alternatives during your travel. Most airports have quiet areas like a lounge or meditation rooms. Some have designated breastfeeding/pumping pods. Researching online or calling your airline to find out in advance may set your mind at ease. You should always ask for alternatives to the bathroom. A bathroom stall is a terrible place to breastfeed. You should never consider it to feed your baby any more than you would eat your lunch sitting on the toilet with the door closed. 

3. Wear comfortable clothes. Consider what clothes you feel most comfortable nursing in. Choose clothes that have good coverage and are comfortable to be in. If you use one, be sure to pack your nursing cover, not for others' standards, but because you feel calmer and more discreet with it. Keep in mind that when it's done discretely, most people won't even know you are feeding your baby. Dressing you and your baby in layers will be helpful. Temperatures will vary and you may feel a chill or you may be holding a baby and overheating. Stretchy pants, a long camisole to wear, and a loose top over that can give you more coverage in the close quarters of coach seating. Whoever is sitting next to you will be able to see everything you are doing. This isn't necessarily bad. While some people are judgmental, many people will applaud you and cheer you on. Some people will go out of their way to offer you assistance in walking a fussy baby or playing games with a restless toddler.

4. Bring extra clothes for you and baby on the plane. Your diaper bag should have a couple of changes of clothing for baby and a dry shirt for you in case of spit-up or leaky breasts. A shawl can have several functions as a nursing cover, a baby wrap, and a warm cover-up.

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5. Nurse before boarding. Airports tend to be loud and you usually have to be there awhile. Nursing your baby in the terminal is going to help you and your baby feel calmer. A baby should nurse anytime she gives a nursing cue. Toddlers are different. You know your toddler and can choose whether to nurse or not. If you aren't sure, you can try breastfeeding, but also have a backup plan. Toddlers also love activity, toys, and special snacks. Be sure to pack them.                  

6. Bring other soothers for your baby. Nursing during takeoff and landing is a safety issue, and if you are allowed to do so, it is going to depend on several things. First, airlines have individual rules about how and where the baby has to sit. If you are on an airline where the baby has to face out in a harness, breastfeeding won't be possible. If you have your baby in a car seat next to you, nursing is not possible either. If you can, and your baby wants to nurse, it will be comforting to both of you and help with depressurizing the baby's ears. But if you can't, try a pacifier, a bottle, or another kind of soother if your baby is upset.         

7. Prepare some pumped milk in a bottle just in case. If you are comfortable pumping and want to bring pumped milk, keep in mind that it is allowed and commonplace but there have been incidents where mothers have been detained or forced to dump their milk. TSA states that 3.4 ounces of breastmilk is allowed to be brought onto the plane.

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8. Hydrate the day before. While breastfeeding uses some calories, it is actually efficient. Hydrating the day before you travel can help you be less thirsty and keep your milk supply up. Be prepared to buy water inside the secure area of the airport. Most mothers are more comfortable if they have snacks from home tucked in their bag because traveling with a baby is different from traveling alone. Buying food in the airport can be more trouble than it's worth when you add extra carry-on bags and a baby into the mix.

9. Be confident in your ability and the wonderful way you are feeding your baby. If you are put in the uncomfortable position of rudeness directed at your breastfeeding your baby, try ignoring it. It can be helpful to keep your eyes on your baby and see how happy and content breastfeeding is making him or her. If your baby is fussing and nursing, you can take solace that he or she would probably be much worse to soothe if you had to avoid breastfeeding. If the comments continue, then please ask a flight attendant or airport employee for assistance in dealing with the harasser. If the rude party hasn't learned manners by this point in his or her life, there is little you can do to make that person change. Remember that all babies fuss and cry at some point, and all you are doing is trying to feed your baby. And you are doing a great job at that.


Image via © iStock.com/maybefalse

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