Pumping Breastmilk While Traveling Without Baby (Stress-Free)

This post is still food related, just in the form of food for baby: breastmilk! I have been through quite the whirlwind of a breastfeeding journey. I would love to share that story some day but first I want to share my experience with pumping breastmilk on a vacation to the Bahamas without baby in tow. I learned a lot in planning and executing and would love to help anyone else who may be planning to travel away from baby!

I bet you didn’t even know I went to the Bahamas huh? We went for a few days while little Bode stayed with Grandma and Grandpa. Saying good-bye obviously brought me to tears but I was still able to enjoy myself while we were there. How could I not with these views?

bahamas bahamas

And these chocolates waiting for us in our room…

bahamas

And this handsome husband…

bahamas

And swimming with the dolphins!

bahamas

Ok, back on subject now. Pumping while traveling away from baby.

Now, mind you, I am someone who really doesn’t mind nursing in public with a cover on. I realize some people aren’t comfortable with this and that is okay. But you know what, we all eat in public, and baby needs to eat too!

Pumping while traveling away from baby took some planning. I needed to figure out how I would pump with the flying and travel time, what I would do with the milk once it was pumped, how I would get it home, etc.

In my carry-on bag:

  • Breastpump including all of the parts
  • Covers for the pumped milk in medela bottles
  • Quick clean wipes (Medela makes these to use when you don’t have access to water to clean your parts)
  • Gallon ziploc bag for the used pump parts after they were cleaned
  • Nursing cover
  • Pump bra
  • Breast pads
  • Breastmilk storage bags (used while at the resort, not on the flight)

What I wore:

On the way out, I made sure to wear something that I could easily slide down inconspicuously underneath the nursing cover. I wore a maxi skirt, a tank top and nursing bra with a cardigan. A nursing tank would be great too. On the way home I managed with a different t-shirt and it worked out ok because I knew I didn’t have to pump in flight.

Pumping on the Plane:

Did you know most planes have electric outlets by the seats? I learned that on this trip (hubby told me ahead of time). You can use them to charge your phone, laptop, or for a breastpump!

When it came time to pump, I got my pump all plugged in, grabbed the pump parts, draped the nursing cover over my head, put on the pumping bra, got all set up with the pump parts, plugged her in and turned on the pump! The plane’s white noise is so loud that no one even heard the “wee-wop” of the pump!

Once I was done pumping, I casually cleaned up. I took off the pump parts and the nursing bra, situated my clothes, took off the nursing cover, put the covers on the medela milk bottles, cleaned the pump parts, turned off the pump and put everything away.

TA DA! It can be done!

On the way home I pumped in the airport in the Bahamas. Unlike other airports, there was nowhere private for me to pump (that I knew of anyway) so I plunked myself down in a quiet area of the airport and did my thing. There was one older lady walking laps and she gave me a weird look—I gave her a weird look right back. 😉 Kidding. Kinda. I don’t care.

pumping airport

Storing Pumped Milk

Before we arrived at our resort, we contacted them and asked for a room with a fridge. This was arranged and all of my pumped milk went into the fridge. We were only staying at the resort for three days so the plan was to refrigerate the milk for those few days and then freeze it when I got home. Otherwise if I were to freeze it at the resort, and then if it were to thaw in flight, I would have to use it within 24 hours “technically.” The milk can be refrigerated fresh for five days. Another huge time saver was I bought some medela pump bags that attach right to the pump so you don’t have to worry about pumping into the bottle and then pouring into the bags to refrigerate or freeze.

Getting the Milk Home

Again, some pre-planning involved here. I bought a little collapsible cooler and brought it along. Right before we left for our flight home, I double checked that all of the pumped milk bags were sealed tightly, placed them upright in the cooler bag and headed to the airport. Once we were at the airport, we had a bartender fill up a ziploc bag (one we provided) with ice. We placed the bag of ice on the milk. This kept the milk cold and at safe temperatures all the way home! Once we arrived home, we froze the milk!

Ta da…again, it can be done!

Other Thoughts

  • When we got to the resort, our room wasn’t ready. At this point it had been about six hours since I had last pumped, and I was getting uncomfortable. I was bummed that the resort didn’t offer me a space to pump when I asked them. I did bring a manual breastpump and in hindsight I should have just gone somewhere and used that but manual breastpumps really suck. HA! But it is good to have it along in case of emergencies.
  • On vacation, it is easy to get dehydrated. Make sure you are drinking PLENTY of WATER!
  • If you are going to enjoy a Bahama mama, make sure you plan it out accordingly with when you will be pumping. Ex: pump and then enjoy soon after.

Did I miss anything? Let me know!

This may all seem like a lot of work, but in all honesty, it wasn’t that bad. If it’s worth it to you, you will make it work!

If you have any questions fee free to email me at beautifullynutty@gmail.com. Obviously I’m no expert, but I did do it once and feel pretty good about what I learned! I would love to help others be successful with this and make it as stress-free as possible!

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