If you need to travel for work or you’re planning a getaway, chances are, you’ll have a lot of questions about traveling and flying with breast milk, whether or not your baby will be with you.
Breastfeeding and pumping are no easy feats even when you’re in the comfort of your home.
But when you travel and go through the airport, there are more things to think about.
For example, how much breast milk can you take through airport security? Can you bring your breast pump on the plane? How to store breast milk properly? And how to ship breast milk?
Here are questions to those answers and more.
1. Know the TSA rules for flying with breast milk
Breast milk doesn’t fall under the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule, so you can bring more than 3.4 ounces through airport security and it doesn’t have to be stored in a quart-sized bag.
The TSA says “reasonable quantities” are OK, so although that’s not very specific to breastfeeding moms who count every ounce, you probably shouldn’t bring a freezer full of pumped breast milk, for example.
The TSA also allows breastfeeding moms to bring ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and cooler bags. If they’re partially frozen or slushy however, they will screen them.
Before going through airport security, remove your pumped breastmilk and present it to the TSA officer for inspection. They will likely screen the breast milk by x-ray.
If the breast milk is frozen, they shouldn’t have to inspect it.
If they decide to test the breast milk, they may ask you to open the container and pour some into another container.
Don’t want them to? They can do additional screenings of the breast milk but be sure to ask the agent to change into clean gloves.
2. Know the TSA breast pump policy
The TSA breast pump policy allows you to bring your breast pump in your carry- on bag or checked luggage.
Although the FDA says breast pumps are medical devices and as a result, they shouldn’t be counted as your carry-on item, some airlines may not consider them as such.
Since many airlines also charge baggage fees, it’s probably a good idea to confirm with them before your flight.
3. Pack your breast pump parts
If you’ll be pumping on the plane, make sure you bring everything you need including all of your breast pump parts, bottles, bags and a cover up.
Although I don’t recommend washing your pump parts in the airplane restroom, you can either wash them when you land in the airport bathroom or at your destination or use Medela’s breast pump and accessory sanitizer.
4. Map out a place to pump
Many airports have the Mamava lactation pods for moms to have a private place to pump. Some airports also have lactation lounges or nursing rooms.
You can also contact your airline ahead of time so find out if there is a private lounge or room you can use.
If all else fails, head to a family restroom and look for one with an outlet if your pump isn’t battery-powered.
5. Ask the hotel about a mini-fridge or freezer
Check with the hotel ahead of time to see if they offer a mini-fridge to store your pumped breast milk.
If they don’t, you may be able to request one or ask them to store your breast milk in a central refrigerator or freezer.
You can also ask them to freeze your ice packs or fill up your cooler with ice before you leave.
For specific guidelines on how to store breast milk, KellyMom.com has a helpful chart.
6. Look into breast milk shipping services
If you won’t be traveling with your baby and need to ship your expressed breast milk home, there are options.
You can try FedEx’s cold shipping service or Milk Stork, a woman-owned company that also offers a “pump and tote” option
7. Bring what you need for traveling with breastmilk by car
If you’ll be driving, check to see if your breast pump has a car adapter so you don’t have to find a place on the road to pump.
Although it takes more work and isn’t as powerful as an electric pump, a manual pump can help.
If you’ll be taking a road trip and bringing breast milk with you, store your breast milk in a freezer bag or cooler with ice, ice packs or freezer packs.
If you’ll be traveling for several hours, you might consider using dry ice to transport your breast milk.
8. Plan ahead for traveling with breastmilk on a cruise
If you’ll be taking a cruise, it’s a good idea to contact the cruise line ahead of time.
Ask about the types of outlets available in the stateroom and if there is a mini-bar available to store pumped breast milk.
If you’re concerned that the mini-bar isn’t cold enough, so you can ask the stateroom steward for a larger refrigerator or ice for your cooler.
If not, ask the cruise line if they can store your breast milk in a central refrigerator or freezer.
What are your tips for traveling and flying with breast milk? Let me know in the comments!