If there's one thing that causes anxiety among parents, it's the thought of traveling with your kids. I can think of few things more stressful than confined spaces, crying children, no snacks, and too many miles till the next rest stop. If you're breastfeeding, things can get even more complicated. Never fear though, because if I can survive a road trip with a baby, anyone can. By using a few tips for breastfeeding in the car on your next adventure, you will be able to watch your stress levels dissipate.
In my almost three years as a mom (most of which I've been nursing), I've gone on several solo road trips with two babies, as well as many family trips with our toddler and newborn, and so you can trust me when I say I've picked up a few tricks (and survived) along the way.
While I can't guarantee you a smooth road trip with no temper tantrums or restlessness (in fact, I can almost guarantee the opposite), I will tell you that with a little bit of preparation and some mental adjusting, there's no reason why that big road trip you've been dreaming of taking needs to wait until you're done nursing your baby.
1. Wear Easy-To-Nurse Clothing
Wearing a dress in the car is hard enough as it is. Add breastfeeding a baby, and it's double the fun. Instead, choose clothes that are specifically designed for nursing, or just opt for a comfy T-shirt you can easily access.
2. Pump Ahead
If you're planning on bringing your breast pump on the trip, have a few bottles pumped ahead of time to save you a little bit of time.
3. Pack Ice And A Cooler
According to Baby Center, breast milk can sit at room temperature for up to six hours. But just to play it safe, be sure to pack a cooler with ice so it doesn't spoil on the drive.
4. Plan To Stop
Traveling with kids in general requires a lot of flexibility. When you're breastfeeding, this is even more true. Most children don't love being in their car seat for extended periods of time, so be sure to take enough breaks to feed or let them stretch their legs.
5. Choose Safe Places To Breastfeed
Choose your nursing spots carefully. If you're feeding in your car, it's best to park in a spot where other people are— like a store parking lot. Avoid areas where you're completely alone or where you don't feed comfortable bringing your child.
6. Stay Hydrated
Dr. Sears notes that it's extremely important to stay hydrated when you're nursing. Though you may want to skip out on water during a road trip to avoid excess pit stops, it could lessen your supply and cause you to become dehydrated faster.
7. Know Your Rights
You can get excited, because legally, you're allowed to breastfeed ANYWHERE you want to.
8. Stick To Your Schedule
While it may be tempting to skip a feeding to gain some extra miles, it can cause a serious dent in your supply. La Leche League International notes that it's best to stick to your normal feeding schedule to make sure your supply doesn't take any hits.
9. Stay Calm
This one is so important it's worth noting twice— flexibility is probably your most valuable asset when you're traveling with a baby. Take your time, listen to your baby's cues and remember that you'll probably have to stop. A lot.