Traveling with breastmilk requires some skill and knowledge. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” which I know all too well after failing on my first two flights with breastmilk.
Here are the three keys to success when storing and transporting your milk from point A to Z without a hitch.
Know Your Rights
Instead of hashing out your human rights in front of other travelers and shocked TSA agents, check out the TSA Guidelines for traveling with breastmilk before you leave home. To summarize for you, you’re ABSOLUTELY permitted to bring as much breastmilk (liquid or frozen) in your carry on luggage as you'd like. Breastmilk doesn’t fall under the same liquid restrictions as everything else. TSA will screen it and you have options for how it’s screened. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
- Milk Screening - the TSA will take your milk in it’s storage bags and put it into an X-Ray machine.
- Non-Milk Screening - if you don't want strangers touching your gold, you can opt for a pat-down and screening of your other luggage.
Packing your bag strategically can save you some major headaches when going through TSA and getting on the plane. Let’s start with your milk before talking about the pump!
- Milk - Keep your milk in individual storage bags and put them all together in one gallon zip lock (to keep your other luggage safe from unfortunate spills). Place that all inside of an insulated bag or a lunchbox with *ice packs.
- *Ice packs - It’s super important your ice packs are totally frozen so add them at the last minute or they’ll be considered a “liquid” at TSA. If you’re at a hotel, your room likely only has a fridge so throw your ice packs in a hotel dry cleaning bag, write your last name/room number on it and ask the front desk to keep it frozen until you check out. An alternative is this awesome freezable bag by PackIt. It’s on my Christmas list!
- Pump - Your breast pump is a medical device, which means it is exempt from the bag policy! Woohoo! This means that you can bring it on the plane as an additional personal item. You heard me, three bags! If you are packing it among other luggage make sure you have a backup plan if the overhead bins fill up and you’re forced to gate check. I’ve been there and the results were very uncomfortable at my connection. Take a minute on your ride to the airport to open the specific airlines medical device policy for extra measure. Here’s an example of Delta’s. Speaking of security measures, throw your manual pump in your purse just in case :).
Plan Your Pumps
Just like you map out when and where you’ll pump or nurse on a daily basis, plan your on-the-road pumps ahead of time. Delays happen and missed connections are likely, especially around the holidays. All the more reason that keeping your pump on you at all times is vital! The beauty of being a breastfeeding mom in this age is that the vast majority of airports have dedicated Mother’s Rooms. My personal breastfeeding GPS is the Mamava app, which includes a mothers room locator, not exclusive to their pods but to any and all suitable breastfeeding and pumping rooms! It’s INCREDIBLE when you’re on the road and helps you quickly find a space to pump.
If you’re reading this blog you’re likely more informed than the majority of TSA agents and airline gate personnel about your rights to carry your breastmilk and breast pump so you may need to educate others along the way.
You are not an inconvenience and what you’re doing is important. Remember that when traveling!!!! Enroll the people around you to be kind and help you complete your mission of safely transporting your milk to its end destination...your baby’s tummy.
Happy holidays and happy pumping!