Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summertime travel for the breastfeeding mom: Tips to take you from June through August

Happy first week of summer! Yesterday marked the official start to the season of barbecues, days by the pool, and warm summer nights. It's also vacation season, which can bring about some concerns for breastfeeding moms.

Whether you'll be with your baby or apart during your vacation, you might have concerns about how they'll be able to stick with breastfeeding when travel disrupts their normal schedule. I've compiled a few tips to keep in mind while planning a trip, whether it's for business or pleasure. 

Traveling without your baby? Pump, pump, pump!

Do some pre-departure preparations. Prepare for your trip by doing some extra breast pumping, letting you leave behind your expressed milk when you are apart. It's always a good practice to leave more than you think the baby will need just in case you run into any delays or interruptions in your travel.

Pack smart to avoid breast pump anxiety. If you're planning to bring your pump, be sure to bring extra parts in case something breaks or gets misplaced while you're traveling.

Try to stick to a pumping schedule. During your trip it's important to pump to maintain your milk supply. Even if you are not able to fit in a full session, it's OK. Just be sure to pump a little bit. Do your best to keep to your baby's feeding schedule in order to stimulate your supply.

Find a good place to pump. Check with the airline to see if they will let you use their executive lounge so you can have a quiet, clean place to pump. Many lounges have private rooms for conference calls or meetings. They might be able to help you out in this circumstance. Some airports have nice mother's lounges as well.

Make sure you have a place to store breastmilk. Inquire with the hotel about the minibar fridge. See if you can store your milk there or ask to get a small fridge put in your room for your stay due to your circumstances. Or, use the ice machine to keep your milk chilled while you are in your room after pumping.

Stay healthy. Drink plenty of water, eat as well as you can, and get enough rest because all of these things can affect your supply, especially if you are traveling without your baby.

Traveling with your baby? Tips for the trip and the destination

Plan to stop along the way. If you'll be on a long car trip, plan ahead where you will stop along the way to breastfeed. It is safest to take a break from the drive when nursing, so your baby won't be out of his car seat and can have a little time to bond out of the moving car. And remember that even on those hot summer days, babies don't need fluids other than breastmilk -- not even water.

Prepare for takeoff. If you'll be traveling by air, try for a window or aisle seat so you won't have people on either side while you are nursing. This is not to hide away, but when babies nurse they sometimes like to kick their legs (you might already know this from experience!) Your neighbors will probably appreciate it. :) Also, nurse your baby during takeoff and landing. The suckling can help ease the pressure that often builds during those times.

Know your rights! Become familiar with the breastfeeding laws where you are going so you can be prepared if someone takes it upon themselves to bother you about breastfeeding. Be respectful of local practices, especially if you are out of the country.

La Leche League International has information on their website about breastfeeding laws in many countries. You can also find contact information here for many breastfeeding groups around the world, so check their website to make a breastfeeding mom connection at your destination.

Get your immunizations. Be sure your immunizations are up to date, but don't assume they will transfer to your baby. Similarly, any travel meds you might need to take may not cover your baby either. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website on travel or ask your doctor.

Remember that jet lag isn't permanent! If there is a time difference where you are going, be prepared for your (and your baby's) internal clock to be a little confused. You and your baby might need a few days to settle into the new routine but the comfort and familiarity of nursing can help calm her down.

Bonus summertime breastfeeding tips:

Yellow polka dot bikini? As with bras when you are breastfeeding, steer clear of tight-fitting bathing suits or bathing suit tops. The pressure could cause plugged ducts or mastitis. Also, try to steer clear of rigid underwire in bathing suit tops!

The dog days of summer. In hot, humid weather, be sure to change your pads frequently so there is no moisture on your nipples. Keep nipple skin soft and supple during this time, as cracked or compromised skin can lead to infections more easily in hot environments.

Do you have any stories about breastfeeding on vacation? Moms, any advice for others who are planning their summer trips now?


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