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Breastfeeding and Travel

The Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Breastfeeding > Breastfeeding and Travel


  • Nursing Toddler on Airplane
  • Saving breastmilk while travelling
  • Pumping milk in Europe
    See also:
  • Working while Breastfeeding
  • Advice about Business Trips

    Saving breastmilk while travelling

    May 2002

    Does anyone have suggestions about how to store and transport breastmilk while travelling away from your child? I am breastfeeding my second child, and will need to travel for work in the near future. I hate to pump and dump for 4 whole days. Have hotels arranged for freezers? Has anyone found a way to ship the frozen milk back home? Or keep it frozen while you carry it home? Will dry ice work? Where can one get dry ice? Any suggestions/experiences much appreciated! Ann


    There's some type of store on the corner of Powell & Hollis in Emeryville (northeast corner) that has a sign in the window ''We sell dry ice'' or something to that effect. Brian
    I have had several occassions to be in a hotel while pumping. I have spoken to the front dask people when I arrive (or even before) and explained my needs. They have always been accomodating (and one 22 year old boy quite embarassed). I am quite sure they would help you find a freezer to access. Ice packs in a soft cooler or lunch box should help you make it home. Breast milk is quite sturdy. My lacation consultant said it was good for 5-7 days unfrrozen, so if all else fails, most will be ok in a refrigerator. Dry ice can be found in your yellow pages if you want to go that route. Good luck!
    I just returned from a 3-day business trip and successfully transported over 50 oz of breast milk. It wasn't easy, but well worth it. Here's what I did. I brought with me 2 large soft insulated bags (the kind that your can carry bottles in and can use the freezer packs with - I suppose you could take a small cooler, but that seemd to bulky for me), 6 freezer packs (I used the hard ones that come with the medella pump), some large Ziploc plastic bags and as many bottles as you think you need to store the milk (obviously bring the largest bottles you have). On the flight there I used the Avent hand pump and pumped in the bathroom stall at the airport and on the airplane (I mentioned to the flight attendants that I might be a while as I was pumping so they could divert people waiting to other stalls). While on the plane I asked the attendants to fill some of my plastic bags with ice and I packed it in one of the insulated bags with the milk. I found the ice held for many hours without getting to melted, but the outside of the bag did get wet so you may want to put in another bag as not to get other items wet. The combination of the ice paks and the ice kept the milk plenty cold without freezing it. At the hotel (I was staying in a suite that had a large frig) if there is a small frig you can empty the frig and put the milk in it, if there is no frig fill the trash cans with ice cubes and put your milk and freezer packs in it. Pump as often as you need to mirror your production at home. Depending on where you are staying the hotel may be accommodating and let you use the kitchen frig. I preferred not to freeze the milk, just to keep it very cold, as I figured I would need to freeze it once I was home and knew I couldn't refreeze it. During the day I would bring the pump with me and one of the large insulated bags with the ice paks and a Ziploc bag - I'd pump in bathroom stalls and get ice as needed from restaurants/vendors. For the trip home I did the same as the way there, but needed to use both insulated bags for the milk and all the cold paks and filled more plastic Ziplocs with ice. As my flight was very long (I was traveling a good 12 hours) mid way I drained the water from the bags with ice and refilled them with ice on the planes). Wala! Good luck - you can do it! Karyn
    I hate to be the voice of negativity, but I don't think it's worth it to try to save your pumped milk. Sure, you can get a fridge with a freezer--but it is probably not the greatest freezer and may not keep the milk frozen hard, which I think is important for sanitation. Also, yes, you can buy dry ice (I've bought it from a local gas station a few times!) by finding a place from the yellow pages, but shipping something with dry ice is a BIG deal. This is because it is possible to make a bomb with dry ice (the dry ice dissipates & the bomb goes off when the plane is in the air). I did successfully ship breastmilk to a friend's premie baby, but it was a really big deal to ship with dry ice, and I had to use Delta Dash rather than Fed Ex or anyone. I doubt you could bring along a box containing dry ice on the plane as excess baggage. Again, sorry to be so negative, but I think it's so hard as to be impossible. Pumping & dumping is dejecting but neccessary to keep your supply up. Kudos to you for breastfeeding your baby--it's a wonderful thing! Jennie
    I just solicited advice on this topic at the ''pumpmoms'' Yahoo group (an excellent resource for pumping moms, BTW). I got several helpful responses. You can go to www.yahoogroups.com and register to access the site. Look for postings with ''Pumping and Business Trip'' in the subject header. Helise
    Year's ago I downloaded an FAQ on pumping, perhaps it was from misc.kids.info . Anyway, there was one woman who went on a business trip, pumped, froze the milk, and then shipped it overnight delivery to her kid's daycare. The hotel where she stayed kept it in a freezer for her. I can't remember if she used UPS or USPS, but it's worth checking into. All this to say, where there's a will there's a way. ---Sophie

    Pumping milk in Europe

    May 2002

    We will be in Europe for 8 weeks this summer with my 7-month-old baby, and I will be apart from her several days a week during the day (in libraries and on the go). My Medela Pump-in-Style will require a bulky, heavy transformer to work with European electrical outlets--hard to carry around all day. My Avent hand pump has no carrying case, and if I have to pump more than once in a day there is the question of whether a simple washing of parts (without sterilizing) is adequate before I reuse them several hours after a first use. I would appreciate any anecdotal experience with regard to expressing and storing milk on the go in Europe, including economical products that I might get there or buy here to use there. We will be primarily in Berlin and a few weeks in France. Karen


    Pumping milk in Berlin and France for 8 weeks is very doable. I pumped milk daily on a 4-week European business trip last year for my four-month-old son. My husband watched my son while I worked - sometimes from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

    On numerous business trips since then when I was away from my son for several days, I followed these same procedures: I used a Medela Pump-in-Style and a Voltage Valet transformer and outlet adapters purchased at Easy Going travel bookstore (on Rose & Shattuck.)

    The transformer, European electrical outlet adapters and 5? extension cord fit perfectly into the pump's compartments. (I needed outlet adapter for Scandinavia, England, France, Spain and Germany on that first Europe trip.) I brought two Medela ice packs and eight Medela bottles. Each day you bring one ice pack and four bottles with you, and store the remaining ice pack in a freezer at your hotel or apartment, keeping your daughter's milk for that day or stretch of days in the remaining bottles. You might need more bottles depending on how much milk she drinks a day.

    After each pumping, I rinsed out the cones with water, then at night soaked them in a sink of hot soapy water. Bring a small toiletry container of your dishwashing soap from home. Every two days, I dumped a big hotel thermos of boiling water over the bottles, nipples and cones. I did not sterilize the bottles, nipples or pump parts during the trip. My son did not appear to suffer because of it.

    On that trip and subsequent business trips away from my son, I expressed my milk in some nutty locations: the basement of a Paris fish restaurant, a secretary?s closet in Madrid, a train lavatory, the back of a NYC taxicab while the cabbie covered the rear-view mirror, the galley of a 747 while female attendants held a blanket over me, and on more bathroom floors of convention halls than I care to remember.

    Don't forget to tuck some photographs of your daughter and some Luna energy bars into your pump. It's neither fun nor easy, but if you're committed to giving your child breastmilk, it's what you do. Don't hesitate to contact me for advice or encouragement. Danielle I've pumped while travelling, but not in Europe, using my Ameda Purely Yours pump, and it works great. You can use it w/ AA batteries, (and they last surprizingly long) so you don't have to worry about adaptors. It's small and light, and the milk doesn't get in the tubes, so cleaning in a hotel room is no problem. Instead of the more expensive travel kit, I bought the basic double kit ($127 at Kaiser if you're a member) and use a $7 cooler from Long's. If I were going to Europe, I'd be confident this pump would be up for the job. Mara


    I had the same problem with pumping at work-the electric pump & carrying case is heavy & unwieldy. I think what I do now could work on a trip-I carry the Avent Isis handpump in a tupperware container, or if necessary in a ziploc bag. I only rinse it with hot water after each use at work, then each evening at home I wash it. In terms of transporting it, my favorite insulated bag is the one they gave me at the hospital-that Enfamil yellow bag, because it is SO compact and fits three bottles plus two ice packs. If you don't have that one, I would shop around for an insulated bag that is just the right size. Karen
    Well, I don't know if you're going to like my suggestion, but here it is anyway: pump and dump. Don't take the big Pump-in- Style, it will be heavy and awkward to schlep around. In addition, I have never had much success with converters and transformers when travelling in Europe: it seems to me that my appliance is not as powerful. Besides, do you really want to expain to the guard at the Bibliotheque Nationale what the contraption in that ''discreet'' black carrying case is? :)

    So my suggestion is to use the hand pump when you're away from your daughter and nurse her whenever you're together. Just toss the milk you pump (since I think you're right to worry about the bacterial issues) and have your husband feed her water or formula during the day. If you pump while you're in Europe, you'll keep up your milk supply enough to resume nursing as normal when you get home.

    I honestly think that the few weeks of part-time formula or water rather than breastmilk is not going to make a bit of difference in your daughter's health or your milk supply (again, as long as you pump) and that you'll enjoy yourself much more if you don't have to worry about all various pumping/storing issues. Keep in mind this is coming from someone whose daughter never had a drop of formula, so you know I'm pro-breastfeeding. Have a great trip! Sarah


    I would take the Avent pump. I have heard of many women who do not wash the horns after every pump and just wash them at the end of the day. They just put them in with the milk, somewhere cold, and pull them out for the next pumping session. As for storage cold packs can last in a cooler all day, you could carry that around. Good Luck Joelle
    When I brought my Nurture III breast pump to France two years ago, I found that it did not pump with as much gusto as it did in the U.S. Apparently many U.S. appliances do not work with as much umph when using European electricity. As you can imagine, this made the breast pump rather useless. I got more milk by hand expressing. I say go with a battery operated or hand operated model. Have a great trip. another traveling mother
    I didn't see the original post, but thought my experience with this may be helpful. I owned a Pump-in-Style that I used very successfully in Europe (France and England) for 2 weeks, while my solely breastfed 5 month old was at home with Grammie (i.e. I was pumping a lot of milk at this point). It is also my experience that US appliances don't work as well in Europe, even with a good quality converter. However, it occurred to me that Medela likely sells this pump in Europe - so that there would be a European plug manufactured and sold for this unit that would not require a converter. This did prove to be the case and they can be ordered through Medela for $20.00 each. I thought this was a bit steep, especially since I needed a different one for England and France - but I figured that when I got there and was spending hours in my hotel room hand pumping, or in pain, or worse, losing my milk production, I would regret not buying it. The good news is that with the European plug it worked fine. I tried it with a converter (just to see if I had wasted my money)- and it barely pumped at all. It was well worth the investment; in my mind it paid for itself just on the 9 hour flight to Paris. We flew on Air France - so I was also able to use it on the airplane. Since a different plug is needed for England, and we were going to have a rental car there - I opted just to use my car adapter (available through Medela or retail stores). The main drawback to this - other than the obvious privacy issues, was that it was December and it got a bit cold going out to the car at night. I would suspect that the other leading pump manufactures also make a European plug for their models?? I still have the European adapter for the Pump-in-Style, free to a good home. I am temporarily separated from it until the 1st week in August - but if you don't need it until after then, send me an e-mail. Good Luck! Kelly
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