Are you wondering how to pull off a family trip while you’re still breastfeeding or pumping? Here’s how to store breast milk when traveling.
Being a new Mama doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up at home in your sweat pants and nursing top. If you’ve been longing to enjoy a quick escape from the stifling walls of your home, it’s a good idea to take a breather. It’s good for your mental and emotional health since travel is long known to reduce stress, alleviate anxiety and depression, and even your creativity.
Traveling alone with a baby is difficult, but it becomes doubly more challenging when you factor in pumping and storing your expressed milk into the equation. The same goes if you’re traveling for a business trip but still need to keep up with your pumping schedule to maintain your milk supply and keep your breasts from getting engorged. However, it’s not impossible!
Here are some of the best tips from Mamas on how to store breast milk when traveling (with or without the baby!), so you have one less thing to worry about in your itinerary.
6 Tips on How To Store Breast Milk When Traveling
Keep these tips in mind on storing your chilled breast milk when traveling and how to store breast milk when you pump on the road.
1. Get a reliable cooler bag
A cooler bag is perfect for bringing several milk storage bottles or milk bags for your little one. Since they are insulated, you can be sure that your breast milk keeps cool and maintains its temperature. This is particularly useful if you will be pumping during your trip or need to bring backup breast milk!
You can also consider expressing milk before you head out and leaving that at room temperature so you have milk ready in the car or plane. The CDC states that freshly expressed breast milk can be stored at room temperature, not exceeding 77°F or 25°C. This way, you don’t have to worry about warming your chilled breast milk when it’s your baby’s feeding time.
Tip: If you’re taveling for longer hours, opt for a chest cooler instead.
2. Make sure you have an ice pack
A cooler bag’s insulated walls won’t be enough to maintain the cool temperature of chilled breast milk itself. As such, make sure you have an ice pack that is frozen solid. You can place an ice pack in the middle and even layer one on top to ensure the temperature is maintained.
Tip: Try not to open the compartment so the ice pack doesn’t melt right away.
3. Make sure the hotel has a fridge or ask them to store your milk for you
You can’t keep your breast milk inside a cooler bag for days, Mama. Eventually, you’ll want to transfer them to a refrigerator where the cool temperature is more stable.
If the hotel room you’re staying in doesn’t have a fridge, you can ask them to store it for you. Just remember that freshly expressed milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days only. First, however, make sure you keep the individual bottles adequately sealed to avoid contamination.
If you’re not traveling with your little one and cannot use the expressed milk, it would be better to freeze them and then bring them home later.
Tip: Always call ahead so you can make proper arrangements. Alternatively, you can bring a portable chest cooler and load it with lots of ice, replenishing it regularly to keep the temperature inside.
4. Keep spare breast milk storage bags ready
If you intend to express during your trip, a milk bag will also be handy if you have limited space in your cooler bag. Since milk storage bottles tend to be bulky, you can keep your milk storage bags in the room or hotel fridge. Then, pack them in your cooler bag before heading out. This will allow you to be more efficient in your limited space.
Tip: Never use bags that are not food-grade or specifically designed for breast milk.
5. Pack the oldest milk and make sure they are correctly labelled
When choosing which chilled breast milk from your stash to pack, choose the oldest milk. Plus, make sure they’re clearly labelled. If you’re pumping on the road, don’t forget to label it with the date it was expressed, too.
Tip: Always use the oldest milk you’ve expressed to avoid wastage.
6. Only use BPA-free plastic bottles or glass bottles
If you run out of milk storage bags or bottles, you can also use a different container. However, they must be food-grade. For plastic containers, the CDC recommends avoiding containers with the recycle symbol number 7. This means that it may “be made of a BPA-containing plastic.”
Tip: Don’t compromise when it comes to choosing a storage bottle or bag for your breast milk. Always choose BPA-free.
What To Look For In A Breast Milk Cooler Bag
These awesome tips on how to store breast milk when traveling will be in vain if you don’t have one of the most important gear–a breast milk cooler bag. So now, with the many options available, how do you determine which is the best?
Well, we’re sharing with you the best features you should look for when deciding on a breast milk cooler bag.
- Insulation. Choose a cooler bag that uses quality materials to insulate the bag.
- Capacity. Cooler bags come in a variety of sizes. Ideally, go for a bag that allows you to pack more bottles but still leave you some room for your pumping essentials.
- Easy to clean. Avoid breast milk cooler bags that get dirty easily. Instead, go for bags made of materials that are easy to care for. Water or stain-resistant bags would be the best options.
- Design. You don’t always have to sacrifice style, Mama. find a nice balance between beautiful design and practicality so you can feel confident carrying it around during your travels. That said, consider if you want a bag that comes with a sling or one that you can carry like a tote bag.
- Cooling Method. These days, you can forego cooler bags that use ice packs and go for a mini-fridge that you can use in your car. But of course, this type of storage only works for a particular situation like a road trip.
With these tips on how to store breast milk when traveling, we hope you feel more confident stepping out of the house, Mamas. Remember, you can still enjoy traveling even if there’s more stuff to pack because of your need to pump!
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Hanna of Mama's Choice
A mama of one energetic toddler, Hanna likes to read books, watch baking shows, and play video games when her little one is asleep.