Let’s say you’ve managed to get some time away from your baby for a well-deserved vacation, but you’re breastfeeding and don’t intend to stop anytime soon. What should you do?
Well, one thing’s for sure – you don’t have to worry about weaning your baby in a hurry before you head out. There are several things that you can do to keep on breastfeeding your child right after you come back home.
Here are a few tips that you can try!
Don’t Feel Guilty About Going on Vacation Without Your Baby
Motherhood is hard, and you deserve a break for a little while. Some people may say things like, “Your baby will miss you so much!”
Maybe they will, but you’ll be back to take care of them. If you plan accordingly, then the baby will more than likely be just fine when you come back. It may feel like you never left in the first place!
Try Some ‘Practice Runs’
If this is your first time being away from your baby for an extended period, it can be (and more than likely will be) hard.
You may get emotional after you’ve been away from your little one for so long, so it would be a good idea to plan smaller outings before the trip.
Go out for a date night, a girl’s night out, or whatever you want to do, and leave your child with a babysitter.
It’ll help you get used to not being near them, and it’ll help your baby get used to others.
Store Milk for While You’re Gone
You’ll need some extra milk for your baby if you want to continue breastfeeding when you come back home. Depending on how much you already have stored (if any), you may need to pump more than you usually do.
Remember that the best time to pump is in the morning! Use that fact to your advantage. If you don’t know how to pump and store milk, now’s your time to learn.
Get Your Baby Used to Bottle-Feeding
Someone’s going to have to take care of your baby while you’re away, and the little one may need some help adjusting.
You might want to try bottle feeding your baby more often before you leave to avoid distress for both the baby and the babysitter.
It might also help to have friends or other family members try to feed them – that way, they’ll be used to people besides their regular caretakers feeding them.
Teach Your Babysitter the Ropes
Tell your babysitter to…
- Feed the baby in an upright position (this will slow the flow of milk)
- Let the baby control the bottle – don’t force it!
- Pace the feedings – pause between sips.
- Also, be sure to let your babysitter know only to feed the baby your milk unless you’ve given explicit permission to feed them something else.
Being fed slowly will help your baby better understand whether or not they’re full. If your babysitter paces feedings in this way, it’ll help your breast milk that’s stored at home last longer through the trip.
Keep Time Zones in Mind While You’re Away
Don’t stop pumping while you’re gone. If you usually pump at 9AM EST, that becomes a 6AM pumping session in PST.
Keep that in mind if you’re traveling long distances – your body doesn’t understand the concept of time zones, so it takes time for it to adjust.
You probably won’t be there long enough to do that, though, so schedule your pumping accordingly.
Try Not to Miss Your Regular Pumping Sessions!
Time flies when you’re having fun, but you’ll want to keep pumping as much as you usually do (or more) for the sake of your milk supply.
Also, like the above point says, you’ll need to do it at the same time you usually do it at home. If you have trouble keeping track of your pumping, set a timer on your phone or whatever device you have with you.
You May Need to Pump More Than Usual
Pumping isn’t usually as good at getting out milk than actual nursing is. You may find yourself feeling rather swollen when you’re without your baby for a while.
If this is the case, you might want to add another pumping session to your day while you’re gone – this is usually the best way to reduce engorgement.
Do NOT Forget Your Gear
Here’s a list of things you should bring:
- Your breast pump (it would help to have a hospital-grade one for where you’re staying and a personal one while you’re out and around).
- An adapter (if you need one)
- Milk storage bags
- An insulated bag for the milk
- Ice packs (keep the milk fresh!)
- A bag/backpack for your pump
- Nursing pads, and plenty of them (you’re more likely to leak when you’re away from your baby)
- Breast pump cleaning wipes
Forget Your Pump? Try Learning to Pump By Hand
Yes, you can do this! By massaging your breasts and using your fingers to push milk down, you can pump milk without the help of a machine.
There’s also hand compression, which involves holding your fingers in a C shape around your breast and compressing them.
If you find yourself without your gear, try using this technique to pump in an empty water bottle.
Bring Spare Parts for Your Gear
It’s not always easy to follow the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning your pump, especially when you’re traveling.
Having some spare parts with you will keep you from spending all of your time washing and drying your pump.
You’re on vacation to have fun, not spend the whole time messing with your pump! Switch out your extra parts if you need to.
Make Sure Your Milk is Stored Properly
We’ve already discussed that you can put your milk in an insulated bag with ice packs for when you’re on the go.
For other cases, many hotels have refrigerators that you can use to store your milk. If not, make arrangements beforehand. You might be able to store your milk in the kitchen’s refrigerator, for example.
Optional – Instead of Pumping and Dumping, Try Shipping Your Milk
This is a rather expensive option, but you can ship your breast milk via UPS or FedEx using a cooler or dry ice.
By shipping it to your house, no milk will be wasted, and your baby is less likely to run out while you’re gone.
Companies such as Milk Stork specialize in shipping breast milk, so check it out!
Know the Rules About Carrying Breast Milk by Plane
If you’re traveling by airplane, you should know that in the United States, you’re allowed to bring along breast milk without as many restrictions as other liquids.
Here’s a list of more things you ought to know before flying with breast milk:
- Tell the TSA officer that you have breast milk with you.
- If you don’t want your breast milk to be opened or x-rayed, let that be known.
- As stated above, you’re allowed to bring breast milk with fewer restrictions (this is the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption), but you’re also allowed to bring ice packs if it’s for chilling the breast milk.
- Make sure that you understand the rules about storing breast milk before flying with it. This will help you protect your rights as a passenger and keep your milk from being wasted.
Take Extra Steps to Maintain Your Milk Supply
Traveling can both dehydrate you and make you hungry, which isn’t so suitable for milk production.
You might want to try bringing a water bottle that holds at least 20 ounces with you while you’re on the go, or you can order water at the various stores and restaurants.
In terms of food, you’ll want plenty of portable snacks such as sandwiches and cookies.
You can also try taking a video of your little one nursing and watching it when you need to nurse – thinking about your baby stimulates milk production.
Swollen Breasts or Sore Nipples? Try Warm Baths or Showers
Chances are, the place that you’re staying at will have a decent place to bathe. At the end of a long day of walking around, maybe your breasts are swollen or sore.
The warmth of a nice bath, shower, or even a sauna can help with any soreness or swelling, so give it a try!
It can be hard to be without your baby for a long time, but with proper preparation, you’ll be able to go on your vacation without any trouble. You may find yourself missing your baby, but that’s normal for a mother. Regular FaceTime sessions and making sure things are okay at home can help to alleviate your worries.
It’ll be different than what you’re used to for sure, but you’ll be okay. Just relax – that’s why you’re on vacation in the first place, remember?