Whether you pump for work, for an occasional bottle, or you pump exclusively, there are a few things you should know if you’re planning to travel with your milk.
Flying: Bringing breast milk on board
Back in 2006, when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) adopted restrictive policies regarding liquids brought on board planes, mothers who were traveling without children reported being told to dump out their pumped milk before boarding.
Fortunately, things have improved significantly since then. The TSA policy is now as follows:
We recommend that you print out and bring a copy of the TSA regulations with you in case an agent has questions.
Flying: Checking containers of breast milk
Breast milk can also be packed in your luggage and checked. If you do pack it in a suitcase be sure to enclose it in multiple layers (several zip lock bags inside an air tight plastic container, for example) to guard against spillage.
Some mothers who are transporting a lot of milk opt to check a well-sealed cooler of milk. Bear in mind that frozen milk will likely thaw, partially or completely, in transport. To keep the milk at refrigerator temperature or lower, we’d recommend packing your milk in ice or dry ice.
Traveling by car
If you’re traveling by car and expect to need to pump, you’ll want to either plan for periodic pumping stops or invest in a cigarette lighter adapter in order to pump while driving (check to make sure one is available for your brand of pump). Obviously, it’s safest if you pump while someone else is driving, or stop to pump. We’d caution against pumping while driving if you find it distracting enough to make driving unsafe. We want you to get there safely!
Milk you pump on the road will stay good in an insulated cooler pack with ice packs for up to 24 hours. See below for milk storage guidelines once you get the milk to your destination.
If you’re planning to be on the road with already pumped milk, your options are much like those for flying with breast milk. Fresh milk can be transported at refrigerator temperature in a cooler bag or cooler with ice, and then stored in the refrigerator at your destination (see below). If your milk is frozen, you can pack it in a cooler with ice or dry ice. It will likely partially or fully thaw. See below for milk storage guidelines once you get the milk to your destination.
How long is it good after I get it home?*
Since fresh milk can be kept in the refrigerator for five days, fresh (not frozen) milk that is transported at a temperature at least as cold as a refrigerator should be good for up to five days (in total).
And since frozen and thawed milk can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours after thawing, frozen milk which thaws in transport but remains cool (refrigerator temperature or lower) should be good in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours after thawing. It’s not recommended that milk be re-frozen.
*Milk storage guidelines from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s protocol, “Human Milk Storage for Home Use for Healthy Full-Term Infants.”
True help – the kind that allows you to relax and enjoy the season while caring for your baby – can sometimes be a little hard to come by. Here are our suggestions for a few simple things your family and friends can do to really help this holiday season.
Feed you, so you can feed the baby. Well meaning family and friends often want to feed babies, and you can’t blame them. But if you’re breastfeeding this can be a bit complicated. Do you spend precious time pumping so your mother-in-law can get her feeding fix? And what if your baby doesn’t like bottles? The solution: Let your relatives satisfy their urge to nourish by making sure that you’re well fed. While nursing, ask people to bring you plates of whatever yummy thing is out of reach, and as well as a something good to drink.
Encourage you to respect your limits. Chances are you’re up all hours of the night with your baby, so the last thing you need is to get to bed late. And gatherings can take a lot out of you, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. So ask your family and friends to excuse you early from gatherings.
Give plenty of “late passes.” As you know, it takes at least twice as long to get somewhere when you have a baby as when you don’t (who hasn’t discovered a poopy diaper right as they were headed out the door?). Family and friends can be especially patient when moms take longer to leave and arrive. And if they’re traveling with you, they should expect many pit stops.
Give you a break from cooking and cleaning duty. This one should go without saying, but in case you have the urge to get in there and help with cooking and cleaning, your family should be prepared to steer you back to a comfortable chair. There will be plenty of other occasions in future years when you can pitch in.
Hold the baby – if you want. Some moms relish a few moments without a babe in arms, and for others this is a bit distressing. So be clear with your family about how you feel about this. There will be no shortage of volunteers to hold your baby if that’s what you want.
Take pictures and video of you with your family. This may sound silly, but chances are you’re always the one behind the camera. Family and friends can help by taking pictures with you in the frame, for a change. So hand over the camera.
We at Motherlove wish you a lovely holiday season!
At Motherlove we’ve been committed to making safe, toxin-free, organic herbal products for mothers and babies for over 20 years.
That’s why we’re pleased to have recently been named a “Champion” (the highest level of compliance) of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. The Compact is a voluntary pledge to avoid chemicals banned in other countries, avoid harmful ingredients whenever possible, and fully disclose product ingredients.
Out of the more than 1500 companies who signed the Safe Cosmetics Compact, only 321 were fully in compliance with all the goals of the Compact, which earns those companies “Champion” status.
Motherlove products are all rated a zero (the lowest rating) on Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group’s safe cosmetics database, and we are proud to publish our complete ingredient lists.
Motherlove achieved Champion status by:
You can read more about the Compact and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in the new report, Market Shift.
If you’ve stopped breastfeeding and want to start up again, you probably can. This process is called relactation, and we’ve put together some basic information about how to do it below. Relactating can be a lot of work, but very worth it!
What is relactation?
Relactation is the process of resuming breastfeeding after a period of no breastfeeding or very little breastfeeding.
What are my odds of successfully relactating?
There is little research on relactation, but the available studies strongly suggest that, with proper support, most mothers can partially or fully relactate. In several studies the rate of partial or full relactation ranged from 75 to 98%. But we want to point out one important factor: Keep in mind that in most of these studies mothers received help in relactating from trained breastfeeding support people.
What factors will influence my success in relactating?
The research suggests that you may have better chances at full or partial relactation if you have:
Remember that each mother/baby pair is different, and relactation may still be possible even you don’t meet the most favorable criteria.
How long will it take?
Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, in Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, recommends that mothers plan for relactation to take one month.
How should I measure success? What goals should I set?
You may want to spend some time reflecting on your motivation for relactating. Is it important to you to provide as much breastmilk as you can? To have the feeling of closeness you had with breastfeeding? There is no right or wrong way to set goals for relactation. And you may not want to set any goals at all.
Interestingly, one survey of relactating mothers found that “Milk production was less often a goal and, when so specified, it was likely to influence the mother to evaluate her experience negatively and to result in difficulty in achieving a total milk supply.”
How do I relactate?
There are two, related parts to relactation: bringing back a milk supply, and bringing the baby back to the breast. And while you’re working on these goals, you’ll want to make sure that your baby continues to thrive. But the first, and probably the most important thing, is to seek some support.
Get support. We strongly recommend seeking out sources of support for this process. As we note above, the mothers in the studies cited above were typically receiving skilled help with relactation, and this may have influenced their success rates. You may want to consult with a lactation consultant (IBCLC), La Leche League leader, a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician, or other trained breastfeeding support person (see links at the end of this guide for sources of support). Trained help is important, but don’t underestimate the power of support from other moms, family, and friends.
Explore what happened. It helps to explore why breastfeeding stopped. You may find it helpful, particularly in cases of unexplained milk supply problems or behavior in your baby, to explore these issues with a lactation consultant (IBCLC). You’ll find a link to find one at the bottom of this guide.
Bring back your milk supply.
Empty your breasts frequently. If your baby is willing to nurse, feeding frequently is the single most effective thing you can do. Aim for at least 10-12 feedings every 24 hours. Feed on both sides, and feed long enough to drain each breast well. If your baby isn’t taking the breast, or is doing so infrequently, use a pump to stimulate your milk supply. Ideally you should pump at least every three hours (though many mothers find it more manageable to take a break at night). Double pumping provides more stimulation than pumping one side at a time.
Ensure effective feedings. If your baby is nursing, make sure that he or she is taking the breast deeply into the mouth, and that you feel comfortable when nursing. A shallow latch and/or pain can mean that your baby isn’t feeding as effectively as possible. Get help correcting this from a trained breastfeeding support person.
Pump after feedings. If your baby is nursing, try pumping after feedings with a hospital grade breast pump. Since milk supply seems to be calibrated based on how empty your breasts get, pumping after feedings can be an effective way to increase milk supply.
Use breast compression. When nursing and/or pumping, use breast compression to fully empty your breasts and keep your baby engaged while nursing. This is a particularly effective way to get good feedings with a baby who is sleepy at the breast.
Consider a supplemental nursing system (SNS). Using an SNS allows a baby to receive formula supplements at the breast while stimulating your milk production by nursing. There is also some evidence that substituting feeding methods other than bottles – such as cup, spoon, SNS – increases the chances of relactation success.
Use the power of skin. Holding your baby skin-to-skin (your baby in just a diaper on your bare chest) boosts your milk-making hormones. And it feels great!
Take a galactagogue. There are both herbal supplements and prescription medications which increase milk supply. Some herbs are particularly helpful with glandular and hormonal causes of low milk supply. Consult with a lactation consultant and/or your health care provider about which may best suit your needs.
Bring your baby back to the breast.
Get skin-to-skin. Skin-to-skin contact is immensely powerful in establishing breastfeeding, and it can significantly aid the process of relactation. Hold your baby (wearing only a diaper) on your bare chest as often as you can. You may find that he or she begins to self attach (see next point).
Use Baby-led Breastfeeding, Laid Back Breastfeeding positions, and co-bathing. Research is increasingly pointing toward the importance of babies’ innate feeding instincts in the establishment and re-establishment of breastfeeding. Babies are able to crawl, scoot, and wiggle their way to the breast all on their own from birth, and new research is showing that babies retain this instinct long after the newborn period. Baby-Led Breastfeeding involves positioning babies in a way that allows them to crawl to the breast. Biological Nurturing, or Laid-Back Breastfeeding, involves reclining to breastfeed. See more about the Laid Back Breastfeeding position and its ability to take advantage of babies feeding reflexes. Some lactation consultants have also found that taking baths with your baby (called remedial co-bathing) can help in re-establishing breastfeeding.
Ensure a good latch. As mentioned above, a deep latch will allow your baby to receive the most milk, and will keep you comfortable. Seek help from a trained support person if getting a good latch poses a challenge.
Use breast compression. Keep your baby engaged at the breast by squeezing your breast when your baby is nursing. This is particularly effective if your baby is sleepy at the breast.
Consider a nipple shield. Some babies who have had many bottle feedings will nurse if the mother uses a nipple shield, as it makes the breast feel more like a bottle. For some babies, it can be hard to wean from nipple shields. Seek help from breastfeeding support person for assistance in using and weaning from a nipple shield.
Use a supplemental nursing system. SNS can persuade babies to return to the breast because they get a greater flow when they nurse. And as noted above, they can help increase milk supply by keeping all sucking at the breast. Seek help from breastfeeding support person for assistance in using one.
Focus nursing around strategic times. Try nursing when supply is higher, such as nighttime and morning. Offer the breast for comfort when you know that your baby is already full, or when your baby is sleep
Consider pre-feedings. Some babies will nurse if the “edge” has been taken off their hunger. Try giving your baby an ounce of formula just before attempting a feeding at the breast.
Ensure that your baby continues to thrive. If you are reducing formula supplements while relactating, we’d suggest reducing formula supplements gradually. Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC, of kellymom.com recommends initially reducing formula supplements by one ounce per day (not per feeding). We also recommend doing frequent weight checks to ensure that your baby continues to grow normally. Checking for swallowing and monitoring diaper output can also provide some information about your baby’s intake.
What are some good resources for more information and support?
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