9 Breastfeeding Travel Hacks For Moms On The Go

Ad failed to load

Airplanes and babies don't always mix well, and even short flights can feel unduly stressful. The key for me was to stop worrying about what other people think. Babies are going to cry, fuss, and mess, and anyone who gives you the side-eye would do well to remember that they were once a fussy baby on their way to see grandma, too. But when it comes to feeding your baby, there are some great breastfeeding travel hacks to try.

Sure, nursing on the go is way easier than packing bottles of formula and clean water. However, certain challenges present themselves to lactating travelers. For one thing, airplane seats are cramped, and the car is no one's favorite place to pump. While it's absolutely OK to breastfeed wherever you find yourself in the wide world, Andie B. Schwartz, M.Ed., RD, LD, CLC, of Happy Family's Happy Mama Milk Mentor program — a free online service for moms with questions about nursing — acknowledges that not everyone feels comfortable breastfeeding or pumping in public. Traveling can be exhausting for even the hardiest parents.

Tania Archbold B.Sc, IBCLC, of Mothers Nectar Lactation Consultant Services, reminds parents to do a bit of research in advance: what are the airline's breastfeeding policies? How much privacy do you need, and can any baby products help you feel more comfortable while you journey by air, land, or sea? Here are nine breastfeeding travel hacks for parents just in time for the holidays.

Ad failed to load

1Keep up With Your Feedings And/Or Pumping


The key to keeping up your supply is continuing to pump and feed during your travels just as frequently as you would at home. Schwartz recommends continuing to breastfeed or pump 10 to 12 times in any 24-hour period. "It can be difficult when you might have to drive or fly for longer stretches, but the best you can, plan to feed your baby on the breast at a layover or rest stop, or even on the plane if you feel safe doing so," she tells Romper. "Since breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand relationship, this will help maintain your supply and provide adequate hydration and nutrition for your baby." If keeping up with frequent feedings isn't possible, she recommends hand-expressing milk to keep your body in the game.

To be honest, keeping up the good work is the most important tip on the list. As Archbold explains, "Holidays can be a time of year when early weaning can happen accidentally. Being busy, out of routine, and visiting family who all want to hold the new baby are all things that can interfere with a parent's milk supply and their baby’s weight gain."

2Practice New Breastfeeding Positions In Advance


Those airline seats are awfully cramped, so if you're traveling by plane, consider practicing some fun new breastfeeding positions. "Since airplane seats are narrow, depending on you and your baby, it may be more comfortable to breastfeed in an upright position or koala hold," Archbold tells Romper.

Kristin Gourley, IBCLC of Lactation Link, also suggests nursing with your baby sitting upright, facing and straddling you (the adorably-named koalahold). As a bonus, she tells Romper that this will keep your baby from "kicking unsuspecting passengers or getting hit by the drink cart." She also recommends feeding your baby in her carrier as a great position hack.

3Feel Comfortable Saying No To Well-Meaning Relatives


Beyond the physical, challenges might be social and emotional. Traveling may the first time you have to establish boundaries and even defend your parenting choices to relatives, Archbold explains.

"Many parents find that the best way to keep up their milk supply is to keep their baby close and feed as often as usual. If relatives are pushing to hold the baby longer than you are comfortable with, or to give a bottle when you would rather be breastfeeding, practice being assertive about asking for your baby back," says Archbold.

A shorthand may be all you need: My baby is showing hunger signs now, you might say. You can cuddle him in just a minute.

Another great way to stay close to your baby when loved ones want to hold him, too? If you haven't tried it yet, try babywearing. Because what are they ghoing to do, pry a baby off your chest? "Baby wearing is an excellent way of keeping your baby close and limiting relatives passing the baby around," says Archbold.

Ad failed to load

4If You're Nervous About Public Nursing, Strategize


If you don't love nursing in public, it might help to plan ahead. According to Schwatrz, a little strategizing can go a long way.

"Plan ahead by looking up your airport or other travel location to see if it may have a nursing/family room or any room where you can nurse or pump. Knowing where you can go ahead of time can help a hurried layover or rushed check-in go much smoother."

Schwartz also recommends investing in a scarf or nursing cover to give you some added privacy.

5Keep Up With Your Self Care


As wonderful as it is, breastfeeding can be draining — literally. So take extra good care of yourself when you're on the road. Need a Christmas cookie? Eat one. Can your partner give you a massage or help out in a stressful situation? Don't be afraid to ask for their support.

Sometimes, essential breastfeeding self care is as simple as keeping hydrated.

"Pack extra water bottles and/or bring a refillable water container to keep up with your water intake," advises Schwartz. "Since breast milk is mostly fluid, you still need to maintain close to 13 8-ounce cups of water per day, even when traveling."

"We tend to eat a lot of rich foods and restaurant foods when traveling," Danielle Downs Spradlin, of Oasis Lactation Services, tells Romper. "The shift toward more salt means you need more water."

You can also use frequent short nursing breaks as a time for some R & R. "Use feeding baby as an excuse to sit down and rest," suggests Gourley. Additionally, "Continuing to feed baby often will account for shortened feedings due to distraction that baby may be facing, and any dips in supply."

6You Don't Have To Be Supermom If You Get Sick


When I had a newborn and the relatives gathered around, I felt extra pressure to show off my mom skills. Of course, they were all perfectly wonderful, and would have done anything to help me get the rest I needed. But sometimes, the image of a supermom is overpowering. Remember that you're doing great already, and don't push yourself. Even during the holidays, you can absolutely take the day off from socializing, especially if you're sick or tired.

"If you are feeling run down and under the weather over the holidays, keep your baby close and focus on just resting and breastfeeding," says Archbold. "Snuggle skin-to-skin, and arrange for help with keeping yourself fed and getting any chores done."

Keep in mind that putting your feet up will help you keep your breastfeeding relationship going in tricky circumstances — like having the flu at your mother-in-law's house.

"When the breastfeeding parent is ill, it is important for them to keep breastfeeding. The baby gets important immune protection from the breast milk, and frequent milk removal will keep the parent from developing mastitis," observes Archbold.

Ad failed to load

7Pack Ice


When traveling, it's a good idea to bring some pumpd back-up milk along with you. Travel can be unpredictable, after all. Gourley explains how best to store it on the road:

8Count Calories (Not Yours!)


Last time I traveled, my baby slept through the flight. Apparently planes have a hypnotic effect on her, and nine million other travelers proceeded to congratulate me on having such a good baby. Personally, I was worried she'd get dehydrated or wake up terribly hungry, and it's key to keep in mind that a sleeping baby still needs milk.

Spradlin puts it best:

Yes, you can celebrate your sleeping baby — it does make travel easier, and the people around you appreciate it. However, if your baby decides she wants to stay up and take in the clouds, don't feel bad. The good news is that she'll be awake to ask for whatever she needs.

9If You Can, Nurse Proudly, In Trains, Planes, & Automobiles


Once upon a time, nearly all mothers were encouraged to formula feed their babies. Now we know what powerful benefits breast milk offers our children and ourselves, and millions of moms are back on the breastfeeding bandwagon. That means nursing is becoming normalized, a huge boon for parents.

As Spradlin puts it, "Don't worry about nursing on a plane. No one really notices. A nursing baby is a quiet baby. If the attendant says something about it, just smile and nod and ignore. You're allowed to breastfeed on a plane and you are not required to cover." She points out that over 80 percent of U.S. moms breastfeed for some period of time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which means the lady next to you probably has a good idea of what you're going through. And the severe-looking man next to her — his wife might be nursing their toddler right now.

By nursing wherever you voyage, you're during important work to normalize a healthy, happy practice, so feel awesome. Bon voyage.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

5 Parenting Habits That Increase Your Chances Of Successfully Potty-Training Your Child

From starting solids to learning to walk, every childhood milestone presents its own unique set of challenges — but this is especially true of potty training. Indeed, the very thought strikes fear into the heart of many a toddler parent, particularly…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Getting Pregnant Might Mean Losing The Plus-Size Body I Love

For the last two years, I haven’t been my body’s biggest champion. I’ve gained 50 pounds. The stress of helping a parent get sober, a house purchase, and a new job got the best of me. But now, at 36, with talks between my husband and I about having a…
By Loren Kleinman

7 Hilarious Differences Between Having A Baby In Your 20s Vs Your 30s

I was 24 when I had my daughter. And even though that pregnancy was neither expected nor pleasant, I was optimistic. Sure, I guess your 20s are "supposed" to be about finding yourself, finishing college, starting your career, and navigating less-than…
By Candace Ganger

Babies "R" Us Was The First Place I Went When I Found Out I Would Be A Mom

For years I struggled to have a baby, and the sight of toys and layettes made my heart hurt. For me, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us were a complete no-go zone, a reminder of everything I was missing out on. My mom would walk the long way around Target…
By Becky Bracken

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger