Here’s what nursing moms should know about pumping while traveling


(Photo: Pixabay)

This post is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop.

One of the toughest things I’ve ever done is be a working mom. For a while, I was working in an office, schlepping two kiddos off to the sitters in the morning and picking them up with about an hour to spare before dinner. Juggling full-time work, household chores, my marriage, and parenting was hard. So hard, in fact, that I quit.

When I left my job to work from home, I did so with the express purpose of being home and available to my children. About a year after I left my office job, I had our third child. An infant makes staying at home really easy to do, and even as we inched towards his first birthday, I was happy to be home with my kids.

One of the things that working from home makes difficult is traveling. When you have childcare built into your life because you work out of the home, traveling for work is not that much different. But when you are the one at home, putting kids on and off the bus, caring for a toddler, and holding down the fort while your service member is working ridiculous and unconventional hours, traveling is often impossible.

So imagine how excited I was when there was an event coming within a two-hour radius of our (new!) duty station. Whoa! I could drive to this event! I discovered it was a Friday evening and all-day Saturday event. Even better! No external childcare needed. My spouse would not be expected at work and this would require very little planning besides making sure we had enough milk and diapers.

Or so I thought.

At that time, my almost 16-month-old was still nursing. Try as I might, I couldn’t get him to wean in time for this event. About a week before the event, I stopped trying. He’d be fine without me for a day or two. For 36 hours, he could drink almond milk and be happy.

And, if he wasn’t? Oh well.

I packed up and headed out. Since I was driving, I could easily over-pack and decided at the last minute to toss my pump into the car. It would be better to have it than to want it.

What I didn’t realize, was at this extremely professionally oriented event, I would have to be “that woman” who needed to take a break to pump: The one who had to miss out on something, to have an awkward conversation with event organizers to find an appropriate place to do so. . . the one who had to cart around pumped milk because it was too warm to leave it in the car the rest of the day.

Here are some tips for pumping as a working mom, when you’re traveling:

  • Bring more containers for milk storage than you think you’ll need.
  • Make sure you have a cooler bag and access to ice or ice packs to keep it cold.
  • Label your milk! Breastmilk stays fresh three to eight days when in the fridge.
  • Consider bringing a manual pump if you may not have easy access to an outlet.
  • If you need to ship your milk home, look at some of the options from this former Navy mechanic, who wrote the book “Breastfeeding in Combat Boots.”
  • Keep up your water intake and eat healthy, especially when pumping on a business trip. The stress of being away, plus pumping and eating differently can cause a temporary dip in supply.
  • Call ahead or check with the conference/event manager to make sure there is a pre-arranged location. If you’ll be visiting an office, ask for the lactation room.
  • If you can’t clean the pumping pieces immediately, refrigerate them with the milk and clean them later on.

Luckily, I had no issues with asking the event organizers for a space. There was a conference room that had a lock on it; I was able to keep the milk cold until I arrived home. My son wasn’t even phased I was gone, and he eventually weaned himself a few weeks later. (Which was good because I had another trip planned!)

Always be prepared and not afraid of asking for help when you travel as a breastfeeding/pumping mom. Don’t let something as easy to navigate as this stand in your way.

The Breastfeeding Shop provides name-brand, high-quality breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies. Catering to the military community, the Breastfeeding Shop’s quick and easy service ensures that TRICARE beneficiaries can receive breast pumps and supplies at no-cost to them.

By Rebecca Alwine