If you're traveling on a plane with your baby they will no doubt get hungry and possibly fussy at some point during the trip. There may be plenty of private and clean (OK, semi-clean) places for you to breastfeed in an airport, but what about when you get on the plane? You'll be scrunched into crowded seats with dirty surfaces and limited privacy. Whether you aim to avoid confrontation with fellow passengers who may be uncomfortable with seeing you breastfeed (yes, it's ridiculous), or you simply desire to be physically comfortable feeding your baby, there are certain breastfeeding positions for the plane that will help with both.
Before you get on the plane Le Leche League International (LLLI) suggested breastfeeding mothers wear comfortable clothes and that they bring a blanket or some type of cover up if they want to be discreet. You're not required to cover up, but some mothers prefer it, and that's OK. It's also suggested that nursing moms arrive at the airport with plenty of time to relax. As one might guess, a seat on the plane with more legroom would probably be ideal for breastfeeding.
But if none are available, here are some easy ways to hold your baby, breastfeed, and be comfortable all at the same time. And who knows, maybe even have a free hand for grabbing a sip of water.
1. Do The Football Hold
In an interview with Wendy White, lactation consultant and owner of 16 Minute Club — a monthly subscription box for breastfeeding moms, she explains to me how to get your baby into the proper position, which is ideal for window seats.
First, she says to place your thumb and fingers beneath your baby's ears and around the back of her neck for head support. Then, tuck your baby under your arm and position her so that her chin, chest and knees face your breast.
She suggests that breastfeeding moms wear a top that can button or zipper to the waist that way you can latch first, then "hide" your breast with the fabric if you'd like to be discreet.
2. Try The Cradle Or Cross Hold
White says this position is good for when you want to feed your baby from the side closest to your seat neighbor. And, as an added bonus, your baby's head will cover your breast and their little feet won't kick your neighbor.
First thing you need to do, is again, support the baby's head with your thumb and fingers under their ears and around their neck. Second, wrap your baby across your chest. "If desired use a pillow, extra blanket or any carry on you brought with you to support your baby at the level of your breast," White says. Once you get your baby to latch, simply cradle them and use your free hand to grab a probably much needed sip of water.
3. Use A Ring Sling
The beauty of a ring sling is that your baby can nap in it, leaving you hands free. It also allows for a lot of privacy. Many slings can carry babies 10 to 30 pounds, so White says they are totally worth a buy if you plan on traveling a lot with your baby.
To breastfeed, White says you simply loosen the rings to get baby in a comfortable position, latch and tighten as needed. White really likes the sling because your baby can stay warm in it if the plane gets cold. Moms also have both hands free to drink water, eat or read a book. And most importantly, with your baby in a sling you can possible even doze off for awhile without worrying that your baby is going to fall.
4. Any Way That Feels Comfortable For You And Your Baby
Feeling comfortable is the best way for your baby to feed efficiently. Whatever you need to achieve comfort is the best position to feed your baby. It may be a combination of these positions, or none at all. And truthfully, being comfortable on any plane, with baby or without is really hard with cramped spaces and pressure changes.
LLLI suggested that no matter what position you try that you should try to nurse your baby at take off and landing to help with the pressure change. The baby may feel discomfort from the pressure change, and the sucking will help relieve it.
But, by all means, if your baby is sleeping. Keep it sleeping. Bon voyage breastfeeding mamas.