You may have heard horror stories about moms being forced to dump their breast milk in airports. This baffling and frustrating for many moms, especially seeing as it's 2017. The good news is that many agents do understand breast milk security procedures, which means it's important for you to learn and follow them to a T. Before flying, there are some things to know about storing breast milk for a flight to make sure you get through the security process as quickly as possible, and as smoothly as possible.
Traveling as a breastfeeding mother can be a challenge, but not impossible if you plan ahead. Going through the security process may get frustrating and time consuming, but as long as you know the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines in regards to breast milk storage, you should be good. That being said, if you're traveling internationally you may want to acquaint yourself with the rules of other countries, as they could differ from those of the U.S. Additionally, it's a good idea to learn the timeline for breast milk freshness to ensure you're refrigerating and storing in the safest manner possible for your baby's consumption.
To ease your mind and help you in preserving your liquid gold during plane travel, here are seven things you should know about storing milk on a flight.
1. You Can Travel With An Unlimited Quantity Of Breast Milk
I wouldn't bring gallons if you can help it, but technically you can bring as much as you want. According to the TSA guidelines, breast milk is not subject to the 3.4 ounce rule which means you can carry on more than that and not have a problem. This goes for formula as well.
2. You Should Declare Your Breast Milk To Agents
You can travel with as much breast milk as you want, but TSA guidelines recommend you inform a TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process. Your breast milk still has to be checked out, but alerting agents ahead of time makes the process smoother and faster for everyone involved.
3. Your Breast Milk May Be Inspected
Your breast milk may still be subjected to the X-ray machine (as that's standard procedure), but if you don't want it to go through there you can request another screening method. According to the TSA website, agents will take additional steps to clear the liquid and you if you don't want it to go through the X-ray machine, which may include a pat down and screening of your other carry on items.
If the agents insist on handling bags of breast milk or even opening them, I would ask them to change into new gloves before they touch it.
4. You Can Bring Small Coolers And Ice Packs
Accessories to keep medicine or breast milk frozen, partially frozen, or in a cool state are permitted per TSA guidelines. That means you can bring a personal cooler with ice, gel or ice packs, or dry ice. If you don't have time to grab ice on your way to the airport you can always ask a restaurant in the airport before or after you get through security.
5. You Can Ask A Flight Attendant For Ice If You Forget
It's important to note, if your breast milk is in a cooler with ice packs or ice it should be used within 24 hours, according to the Baby Center. If you won't be using your milk right away it can go in a refrigerator or freezer as soon as you get to your destination. Just be sure to label your breast milk bags with the date you pumped.
6. You Don't Have To Travel With Your Child To Have Your Breast Milk
As explained on the TSA website, you don't need to have your baby or child with you to travel with breast milk. If you're a mom that travels for work, has an emergency trip, or going on a vacation away from your family, it's fine to bring your breast milk.
7. Your Breast Pump Doesn't Count As A "Carry On"
If you need to bring your breast pump you don't need to count it as part of your carry ons. According to the Children's MD website, your breast pump is considered a medical device and won't need to be counted. As a personal suggestion, however, you should be prepared to keep telling agents that it's a medical device. Additionally, if you're carrying a cooler, that does count as one of your carry ons so you'll need to plan accordingly.
Whether you're a breastfeeding mom or not, flying is bound to be stressful. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on the rules, prepare your necessary gear, and give yourself enough time to get through security just in case agents take extra time to screen you and your breast milk.