If you're planning on taking an overseas vacation, chances are you're no stranger to planning ahead. There are hotels to book, sights to see, meals to plan, and clothes to pack. If you're a nursing mom, however, planning becomes even more complicated. Whether or not you're traveling with your baby, you're probably planning on pumping while you're gone for added convenience and to keep up your milk supply. That's why knowing how to store breast milk when traveling overseas is of the utmost importance. From the plane to your hotels, there's a lot to think through. Rest assured that storing your milk can be done with a bit of preparing and flexibility.
Perhaps the most difficult part of traveling for a pumping mom is the flight — and if you're going overseas they won't be short and sweet. That's why having a few tricks up your sleeve can make pumping on a plane manageable and maybe even comfortable.
First of all, know that your pump does not count as a carry on because it's technically considered a medical device, according to Children's MD. This means you'll be able to pump as necessary on your long flights. Take advantage of your layovers as well, as they will give you more opportunity to pump in private. Similarly, Children's MD suggested bringing a small, water-tight cooler, plenty of ice packs, and enough empty bottles or storage bags to at least last you your longest flight. Declare the cooler and bottles to security before you board and you should be able to bring them on board with you.
When it comes to storing the pumped milk, Medela noted that breast milk can last on ice for 24 hours and at room temperature for four to six hours, so as long as you're planning to use it soon or get it on ice ASAP, storing your milk in-flight shouldn't be an issue.
Flying is only one leg of an over-seas trip, but if you can handle pumping and storing your milk on an airplane, you can handle it all. The aforementioned Children's MD piece suggested booking a hotel room with an in-room refrigerator in advance, since that will be essential in properly storing your milk as it can only last so long on ice. Baby Center noted that if your room doesn't come with a refrigerator, you may be able to request one for an extra fee.
The aforementioned Baby Center article also suggested you turn your mini-fridge to the lowest setting to freeze your breast milk, allowing you to store it even longer before using it.
One last tidbit that most travelers aren't aware of is that you can actually ship your expressed breast milk overseas, according to Kveller. This is especially useful for moms who are traveling without their baby and want to avoid pumping and dumping or supplementing for their baby while they are gone. You can use services like Milk Expressed, or even FedEx to ship your breast milk at the perfect temperature back to your baby.
Although pumping and storing milk while you're traveling might not be easy, it will be well worth the extra effort to keep up your supply and keep your baby happy and healthy while you're away.