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Working Moms: Work Travel While Breastfeeding

Working Moms: Work Travel While Breastfeeding

In two weeks I’m going on a short business trip. I’ll be gone for three days/two nights which represents by far the longest amount of time I’ve been away from Liam so far. I’m sure I’ll be sad about leaving Liam as the time approaches but for now, the thing that is weighing on my mind most is how to deal with the breastfeeding/pumping issue. It seems to me I have three options:

1. Pump all the time over the next two weeks to try to build up enough of a freezer stash to get Liam through those three days. Bring my pump with me and pump at the conference.

2. Supplement with formula while I’m gone. Pump enough to keep my supply up at the conference.

3. Use this as an impetus to discontinue breastfeeding.

I’ll be honest, I have no desire to do #1. As I’ve made pretty clear, I hate pumping so the thought of all that extra pumping makes me cringe. I know it would make me miserable and stressed out for the next two weeks and that just isn’t worth it in my book. But, I also really don’t want to have to go with choice #3. My goal all along has been to make it to to the twelve month mark with breastfeeding and the finish line feels so close that it seems silly to give it up now. I’ve survived thrush, mastitis and a biting phase…surely I can make it through three measly days!!

Right now, my plan is to go with choice #2 which I see as a maintenance plan. Even pumping twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) should be enough to keep me feeling comfortable (or at least not horribly uncomfortable) and keep up an okay supply for when I return. The last question of course is what to do with the milk I pump while I’m there. According to TSA regulations, I am allowed to carry that breast milk with me on the plane but also REALLY don’t want to run into any issues with security over it. At the same time, the thought of throwing away all of that breast milk is heart breaking.

Any advice from experienced mom travelers on this part?



  1. Profile photo of Mary

    Mary May 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Absolutely don’t worry about TSA. They are so great when it comes to breastmilk as embarassing as you may feel at the time, they won’t make you dump it. Sometime’s it’s quite comical to look at the TSA’s face while he’s testing the milk – he’ll be more embarassed than you! Now that my kids are older I travel with sippy cups filled with juice and we have no problems with that either. They will swipe the bottles with a special cloth to test for explosives so don’t be alarmed. Make sure you get a room with refrigerator too so you don’t have to worry about keeping an ice bucket full (which I’ve done before and is not fun.) You will also need to remember to freeze the icepack for the trip home.

    As for Liam, you may find that he doesn’t drink as much while you are gone and instead bulks up on food. 9 months is right around the time both kids switched to 2 nursings a day (and I think with one it was for the same reason – I went away on a business trip so it was just a good reason for the shift). You will also find that pumping only twice a day will produce a lot more milk so you can bulk up your freezer when you return. Also, keep in mind when you return Liam may cluster feed a bit just because he missed you so much but cherish this too, it will soon be the end of breastfeeding with a year right around the corner.

    If Liam hasn’t had formula before he may also turn his nose up at it so you may want to consider splitting up some of the supply that you do pump between now and then – meaning if he normally drinks 4 ounces, make 2 2 oz freezer packs. That way whoever is watching Liam can give 2 oz and try to get him to eat more food but have 2 oz for back up later in the day.

    Finally, although you hate to pump, mornings is always when your supply is at it’s peak so you may want to nurse him in the morning and then when you get to work, pump. It will give you a couple ounces of back-up for while you away. He may have less to eat when you nurse him at lunch but that may not be all that bad to get him accustomed to that.

    Great choice in at least trying to make it 1 year despite the trip. I traveled for the same time frame with both my children a couple times while I was nursing (and yes, I actually pumped in an airport bathroom once – although a family one that locked). With my 2nd he turned 1 just days after I returned from a trip and sadly my going away made him decide that on his 1st birthday he would stop nursing (something I wasn’t prepared for). It’s not easy but you’ve done such an amazing job so far and your are in the home stretch. Good for you for continue to nurse despite all the hurdles along the way. You should be proud of yourself!

  2. Profile photo of Kate

    Kate May 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Thanks, Organized Mom! That is really helpful. He is totally fine with formula so I don’t think we’ll have a problem with that and he’s a good eater so I suspect you are right about it causing him to eat more solid foods. I’ve already noticed a huge drop off in how long he nurses as we introduce more food.

  3. Katie May 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Good luck with this. I had to do OUS travel for a week right before my daughter turned 1. Even though I pumped at least 2x a day while I was gone (e.g. on the plane, in airport bathrooms, in my hotel room), my flow dropped so much and my daughter was so stressed that I had been gone, she never breastfed again. It was definitely not the way I wanted to end such an enjoyable time for both of us. (With OUS travel, the extra hassel was not worth traveling with breastmilk.)

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