Traveling is an amazing opportunity, but it also comes with its fair share of obstacles that can make it more stressful than it needs to be. Breastfeeding moms in particular are met with a unique set of figurative road blocks that they need to deal with before leaving for a trip to ensure the smoothest and most stress-free vacation possible. Even if you're traveling sans baby, your body will continue to make milk and if you're traveling between time zones you're probably wondering how does jet lag affect milk supply. Whether you plan to bring your little one with you on your trip or not, your feeding schedule is bound to take a bit of a hit when you travel.
For years jet lag was simply written off as a mental sate of mind. Now, however, researchers know that it is a real condition that affects our bodies and schedules in almost every way, according to the National Sleep Foundation Although people typically associate jet lag with traveling transcontinental distances, the truth is that it can happen if you're just crossing state lines into a different time zone. No matter the distance of your travels, it's important to know how it will affect your milk supply before you got on an adventure.
As it turns out, jet lag itself shouldn't have a direct impact on your milk supply, but it takes a toll on your body, brain, and schedule — all of which affect supply. In an interview with Romper, Rachel O'Brien IBCLC says:
"Since your body is used to making milk on whatever routine/schedule your baby or pump followed at home, when you change time zones, particularly a big jump, it will take a few days for your supply to regulate to the new schedule."
The side effects of jet lag, like exhaustion, diet, and schedule changes, can wreak havoc on your milk supply, if you let them. Your supply can diminish if you're not diligent to maintain it, regardless of the time difference.
To minimize the effects of jet lag on your milk supply the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that nursing moms stick to their same nursing schedule that they would if they were at home. If your baby is 6 months old or younger, you'll have to nurse or pump every two to three hours to keep your milk supply steady. For older babies, the times will be further apart.
Over the course of your trip, your body will adjust to the difference and your milk supply will follow suit if you're sure to keep nursing and pumping regularly. Jet lag can be frustrating, but it doesn't have to get you (or your milk supply) down the next time you take a vacation.