Are you planning a vacation with your new baby? Or, maybe you’re getting ready to take a long-distance trip to introduce your child to her grandparents? If so, you may be concerned about how to manage the trip if you are still breastfeeding. Have no fear! One of the advantages of breastfeeding is that it’s much easier to travel with a breastfed baby than a formula-fed one. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or car, breastfeeding provides a portable, nutritionally balanced food supply for your baby. In addition, you don’t need to worry about packing bottles or sterilizing feeding supplies.
Travel and breastfeeding also go together for reasons that have nothing to do with nutrition or convenience. Traveling with an infant can be a source of stress for many parents and breastfeeding helps to sooth and comfort your baby. This is especially true if you plan on flying as the sucking and swallowing helps to release altitude-related pressure in your baby’s ears. Despite the obvious benefits, traveling with a breastfed child can have its unexpected ups and downs. So, here are a few tips to help you have a fabulous travelling experience with your breastfed baby.
Have a Breastfeeding Travel Plan
As part of your overall travel plan, give some thought to how and where you will breastfeed while in transit. Breastfeeding on the road is part art and part science. The science part comes from trying to maintain a normal bedtime and planning ahead to get a sense of places where you will have the opportunity to breastfeed in peace. For example, you might locate roadside rest areas or other breastfeeding friendly locations on the map before setting out.
The art of breastfeeding on the road comes from our ability to react to the inevitable bumps along the way. Babies respond to the different energy that comes with travel just like the rest of us. Try not to be stressed out if your baby needs to feed at unusual times. They may be adjusting, like you, to different time zones and their body is just reacting to life on the road. So, try to approach traveling with an infant with a sense of humour. One day you really will look back at it all and laugh.
Know Your Rights
Whether you’re at home, or on the road, there’s no need to feel apologetic about breastfeeding. In Canada, you have the right to breastfeed your baby anytime, anywhere. This is even specified in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act.
That said, if you’re traveling by plane, especially internationally, it’s a good idea to check with your airline ahead of time to understand their policies about in-flight breastfeeding. This article has a good round-up of some major airlines’ breastfeeding policies. For the most part, the consensus seems to be that mothers should be allowed to nurse their children without being asked to “cover up.” In addition, most airlines say that any passengers who don’t feel comfortable seeing a nursing mother should be offered a different seat.
If you’re traveling to other countries, it’s a good idea to understand the local standards and cultural norms. Not every country goes out of its way to protect the rights of nursing mothers, so, plan ahead to avoid any unpleasantness.
Find Quiet Places
Most babies will breastfeed anywhere. They really don’t care whether you are at home or in public. That said, if your baby prefers a quieter place, or if you just want peace and quiet yourself, a little planning will go a long way. Many airports and train stations have quiet rooms where you can get some privacy. You may also want to check out Priority Pass, which, for a fee, can give you access to over 700 airport lounges in many countries around the world.
Pumping & Storing Breast Milk while Travelling
Many women find that traveling with a breast pump is a lifesaver. With the right pump, you can collect milk ahead of time and have it ready in a bottle when you need it. Check out this article on how to choose the right breast pump, and, if you have an electric pump, be sure to buy an adaptor when travelling abroad. If you’re a frequent traveller, you may want to consider getting an additional, more portable pump, just for your time on the road.
Be sure to bring a cooler or insulated bag with you to store your breastmilk. Also, keep in mind that, if you’re travelling by plane, according to Transport Canada, you are allowed to bring breastmilk on board, whether or not your baby is travelling with you. All you need to do is declare your breastmilk during your security screening.
Make Yourself Comfortable
It’s important to make breastfeeding feel as comfortable on the road as it does at home. One way to do this is to take a breastfeeding survival kit, including bottled water, books, nipple cream, snacks, heat packs, and anything else you need to feel comfortable. Staying hydrated is even more important when you’re breastfeeding, so drink lots of water.
If you’re still getting comfortable with breastfeeding away from home, buy a T-shirt that makes feeding easier. Or, consider wearing layers with an easy-to-remove top and a tank top underneath. You may also want to consider the Medela Bravado bra which is a comfortable, stylish and quality nursing bra.
Because happy babies make for happy moms, be sure to take along plenty of distractions for the little one. This could include music, rattles, soft fabric storybooks, toys, and other comfort items. Familiar items, like a blanket from home will help your baby stay calm. Oh yes, and don’t forget baby-wipes!
Breastfeeding can be a natural, easy and fun part of your travelling experience. Many moms find that it’s empowering and invigorating to be able to take their baby on a vacation or trip, while breastfeeding. One final piece of advice – don’t be afraid to ask for help! You don’t have to do everything yourself. Let the other members of your family get involved. You might even find that, as a breastfeeding mom, you get more pampering and attention than usual!
Have a great trip!
Are you a breastfeeding mom who travels with her child? How have you found this experience? Do you have any tips for traveling with a small child to share with the other members of our community? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below or join the conversation on our Medela Canada Facebook page.