Breastfeeding While Traveling for Work
5 Ways I Made It Work
Being a working-pumping mom is a challenge. Throw travel in the mix and suddenly there are a lot of balls in the air. Get a few tips for the trade from Ashley Logan, CEO of Yakkety Yak and mama to two small kiddos.
In my line of work, hopping on an airplane a few times a year is just part of the job. It’s nice to get away for a night here and there. But with a new baby, and a short maternity leave, a five-day trip to San Francisco was looming on the horizon and, frankly, I was freaking out. All sorts of elements of the journey gave me anxiety, from storing and transporting breast milk, to pumping in between meetings and keeping up my supply, not to mention missing my baby. As an exclusively breastfeeding mother, I knew I had to build up a stash that would last the duration of my trip, and also manage five days of pumping on the road. Here’s what I learned:
1. Build up supply.
I can’t say enough about how reassuring it is to have an extra supply stocked up before leaving town. I started off pumping after each nursing session to store away a few ounces at a time. As my baby developed his feeding schedule, I was able to squeeze in a full extra pumping session or two a day. At first, my goal was to leave with three days worth of milk, then ship back what he would need for the rest of my trip. I ended up having more than enough to cover me while I was gone. But I really worked hard for that. Some moms won’t have that luxury, in which case shipping back your supply via overnight delivery is an awesome option. More on that later.
2. Bring a great pump and backup accessories.
For moms who have to travel for work, the Spectra S1 Double Electric Breast Pump is absolutely the way to go. Not only is it strong, it charges like an iPhone, so it doesn’t require a battery. For pumping on the go (aka: airplane bathrooms), this is a huge help. Battery-operated pumps are great, but I’ve found that they aren’t quite strong enough. This is not the case with the S1. I got my pump through The Lactation Network, shipped to my door as soon as my insurance coverage was approved. I only had to pay a small upgrade fee to get the portable version, and it was worth every penny. Also, bringing backup parts like extra storage bags, valves and tubing is vital just in case something goes awry.
3. Lean on resources.
For even the most confident mother, pumping outside of the comfort of your home or lactation room at work can be intimidating. While I know I’m doing what’s best for my baby, I hate having to find a place to privately pump and resent it when accommodations aren’t easy to find. But there are women who have come before you who have the inside scoop and can save you from pumping in a dirty bathroom at O’Hare Airport. The Mamava App is awesome for providing breastfeeding accommodations near you, with instructions on how to access them. Mamava even has lactation pods that are starting to pop up everywhere, offering a private, compassionate space to pump. AMEN to that.
4. Have a transport plan in place.
I pumped six or seven times a day during my trip, and I was looking at about 200 ounces of liquid gold that I needed to get home. I had heard of this amazing company Milk Stork that provides prepaid refrigerated boxes so you can easily ship breast milk via overnight delivery. I signed up for a 72-ounce box, and it was delivered right to my hotel room. All I had to do was pack up the storage bags and drop it off at FedEx. Since that was only going to cover less than half of my stash, I also purchased a Yeti cooler to carry the rest on the plane. Both cost about the same, but one (the cooler!) I get to use over and over again. Knowing that I had two solid options for getting my baby his food, gave me a lot of piece of mind.
5. Sneak in some “me time.”
Honestly, being away from home sucks, but if you have a night or two (or in my case, five), carve out some time for self-care. Whether that means watching bad TV, ordering room service or bellying up to a local bar, charging your battery is a key ingredient to making it all work. While you may feel some guilt for being away, your best bet is to make the most of your time away. Then be prepared for a lot of sweet baby snuggles when you come back home.