Thursday, 18 September 2014

Travel Tips 2: Nursing on the Travel

Four years ago, I made the mistake of booking a trip with friends to Phuket just 1.5 months after I gave birth to my baby girl. I was already struggling with learning how to breastfeed, so having to store up milk for my baby for when I was away was really stressful!

It was through sheer determination and hard core pumping that I somehow managed to do it and since then, have not looked back. I have travelled to 6 countries without baby and 6 countries with baby while I'm still breastfeeding!

Travelling while nursing is not impossible. It may be a little inconvenient but with practice and a lot of preparation, you can still travel the world like you always do. Being a nursing mum should not stop you from travelling just as travelling should not stop you from being a nursing mum! =)

My Top Tips for Nursing on the Travel

If you're NOT bringing baby along:

1) Email the Hotel
It used to be that every hotel room had a bar fridge that came with a freezer compartment that allowed you to freeze ice. However, I'm realising that nowadays that is sometimes not the case.

Bar fridge of our suite at Golden Sands Resort Penang;
The bar fridges in the hotels that we have stayed at this year all did not have freezer compartments.

Breast milk can only be kept for 2 days in a fridge unless you store it in a freezer so do remember to email the hotel that you'll be staying at to ask if the bar fridge has a freezer. If they don't, find out whether they are able to store your breast milk in the hotel's freezer. Golden Sands Resort in Penang provides breast milk storage service at the Front Desk while the room service staff of the hotel we stayed at in Hong Kong came to collect my breast milk every evening (I gave them a call everyday!) to store my milk in their main freezer.

2) Stock Up Early

My store of milk literally takes up all the space in the freezer
Store your milk in transparent containers for easier storage in your fridge

You will need to store up your breastmilk for your baby when you travel and since most of us take a while to build up the stockpile, please start early (if you can).

I recommend pumping an additional 100-150ml of milk a day at least 4 weeks before you are due to travel. I made the mistake of not starting early enough and ended up frantically trying to store up milk for my baby boy just 15 days before our trip to Sydney. Although I was successful in storing the amount that he needed, it was really stressful! =S

If you don't have enough stored up, you may have to consider allowing your baby to drink formula temporarily.

3) Test Your Baby
It so happened that I went back to work a few weeks before our overseas trip and therefore found out that my baby refused to drink expressed breast milk that has been frozen for more than 1 month! (*gasp*) Imagine if I had just gone for my trip without testing if my baby is ok with drinking defrosted milk? =S

Having said that, there were times that I went anyway and hoped for the best and you know what? My baby survived. So don't be overly anxious. Our babies are stronger than we give them credit =)

4) Bring Your Trusty Pump AND Extra Batteries

My Avent Breast Pump

If you have an electrical breast pump like mine from Avent, you will have a battery operated compartment at the base for expressing when there are no electrical points such as on the bus, the plane, at McDonald's and even the aquarium (all of which I have done). Don't forget to bring along extra batteries because you don't want to be caught in a situation when you're expressing and the pump runs out of power. Not a good situation to be in! =S

5) Bring a Breast Milk Carrier Bag, Ice Packs and/or Ice Box
This is to ensure that your milk is stored at the right temperature while you're travelling.

Pigeon Breast Milk Carrier Bag
Wall of ice packs keep my milk chill for at least 6 hours

If you'll be transporting more than 7 days of milk like I did when we were in Sydney, an ice box may be better at keeping your milk frozen than cooler bags.

The ice box that we used to transport all my milk back home from Sydney

All you need is a couple of ice packs and a masking tape to seal the box so that there is no leakage of air. Then check in the box as a fragile item.

I did just that for my Sydney trip and all of my milk arrived safely back in Singapore still nicely frozen after 12 hours =)

6) Check-in Your Luggage
Remember that your milk is liquid so there are regulations on how much of it that you are allowed to carry on board the plane. The custom officers in Sydney only allowed me to pass security check with my packets of breast milk when they saw that I had my girl with me; and even then, they didn't allow me to bring my ice-pack on the plane (I had to discard two of them).

Do double check with the airport staff at the check-in counters so that in the event that you're not able to bring your breast milk on the plane, you'll still be able to check them in.

7) Sterilize Pump Parts with Sterilizing Tablets

Place pump parts into a container full of water and add 1 sterilizing tablet (mine is from Pigeon) to sterilize the pump parts

A single sterilizing tablet dissolved into water can be used repeatedly within 24 hours so don't throw the water away!

Since the water can be reused and the pump parts have to be soaked in the water for at least 30 minutes, it's likely that you will continue with your itinerary while carrying a container full of water. Hence, it's useful to buy an airtight container so as to ensure that the container does not leak.

Bought a more expensive airtight container for my pump parts instead of my leaky IKEA container

It was very inconvenient when my green IKEA container (seen in picture with Sterilizing Tablets above) leaked water all over my stuff in Hong Kong and Sydney! I truly regretted not buying my air-tight container earlier.

~~~~~

If you are bringing your baby along, congrats! You'll only need to prepare 2 things (for nursing, you'll need a thousand other things for baby):

1) Nursing Clothes

Breastfeeding in the nursing room in Harrods, London

I buy mine from Maternalove,  Mothers en Vogue, Annee Matthews, and Dote. You might also prefer to DIY your own nursing slip but I prefer to buy nursing tops with umpire access. Too lazy to DIY.

2) Nursing Cover
With my nursing cover, I can breastfeed my baby anywhere!

Walking and nursing under a cover in Bangkok

With the help of a carrier, you can even walk and breastfeed at the same time (it takes a lot of practice of course)!

If you require a little privacy, do check if there are nursing rooms in the country that you're visiting as not all countries have an abundance of nursing rooms. I've updated my nursing room page with those that I've come across during my travels for your reference.

If you're bringing baby but don't latch directly then add tips 4, 5 and 7 =P

And there you have it! Keep calm, travel and MILK ON people! =)


This post is part of my series on Travel Tips for the Wanderlust Parent.
Follow me as I share my tips for planning your next family vacation


Head on over to My Travel Page for a whole list of our travel itineraries!
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