Breastfeeding and pumping from home is tricky enough, but they get even more complicated when you pack up for a road trip. If you're planning on taking your baby, breast pump, and stash of breast milk on the road — more power to you. Before you hit the open road, however, there are a few things to know about storing breast milk for a car ride so it doesn't go to waste.
Although these tips are fairly intuitive, knowing the best (and safest) ways to store your pumped milk in the car is a bit more complicated than throwing it in a bag and putting it in the freezer like you do at home. Like most parts of a road trip, the more you plan in advance the better and your pumped liquid gold is one area you don't want to leave to chance.
I've been on several road trips as a nursing and pumping mom and although it's rarely simple — what is when you're raising a baby? — it can be done. With a little bit of planning and strategic packing, your road trip can be smooth and melt-down free (for the most part,) with your baby fed and content with milk to spare.
1. Keep It Unfrozen And On Ice
Bringing frozen breast milk with you on your car ride might seem practical, but if you need to use it in the car, thawing it will take longer than you expected without hot water to warm it up. Although you can buy bottle warmers with a car port, storing your milk unfrozen and in a cooler with ice packs is a great way to make sure it stays cool and warms up quickly.
2. Breast Milk Can Stay At Room Temperature... For A While.
If you need to use your milk while in the car, it might be better not to put it on ice at all. According to Mama Natural, breast milk can sit at room temperature for up to six hours without needing to be refrigerated or frozen.
3. Bring A Back Up Bottle Or Two
There's nothing worse than forgetting — or worse yet, losing — your only bottle in the car. It's better to overpack (slightly) than under-pack when it comes to your baby's essentials, so bringing a few more bottles than you think you'll need will probably work out in your favor.
4. If You Need To Pump On The Road, Be Sure Your Pump Has Batteries Or A Car Adapter
Even if you have an electric pump, you might still be able to pump on the road without stopping (as long as you're not the one driving, of course.) Most electric breast pumps, like Medela's travel pump, come equipped with a car charger or batteries to make them travel-friendly.
That being said, I learned to love my tiny manual breast pump for road trips because it was compact, quick to set up, and small enough to put in my purse.
5. Store Your Milk In Bottles For Extra Convenience
Breast milk storage bags are great, but when you're in the car, it's better to have fewer things you have to keep track of and pour from one container to the next. Instead of keeping your unused milk in storage bags, keep the milk you're planning use on the trip in bottles, that way you can simply warm them and feed your baby without the potential of extra mess and waste.