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TSA Travel Tips for Nursing Mothers

TSA Travel Tips for Nursing Mothers

Read time: 3.5 minutes

TL;DR

  • If you’re nursing and traveling without your baby, you’ll need to bring along your breast pump and extra supplies and accessories to ensure your trip goes smoothly.
  • Be sure to bring your normal supplies, plus extra batteries, cleaning supplies and milk storage containers.
  • We recommend traveling with your pump in your carry-on luggage to avoid it potentially being damaged or lost with baggage.
  • Mothers are allowed to travel with breast milk and breast pumps in the United States, regardless of whether they are traveling with or without their children.
  • If you are hassled or stopped in airport security, ask to speak to a supervisor.
  • Although pumping en route presents some unique challenges, it can be worth the extra effort.

Breastfeeding can be challenging, frustrating, emotional, rewarding, and incredibly wonderful all at once. Mixed with the rigors of travel for business or even family visits with baby in tow, traveling away from home while still breastfeeding is one of the biggest challenges faced by today’s mothers.

Although pumping or breastfeeding while in the air or on the road can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and downright unpleasant, many mothers find it worthwhile, particularly since it allows them to continue their breastfeeding journey without disruption.

Lactating moms can benefit from planning ahead, regardless of whether you’re bringing baby along for a family visit or leaving your child with your partner for a business trip. We’ve put together some tips to help you prepare for those trips both with and without your little one while continuing your breastfeeding journey.

Pump Supplies Checklist

If you’re nursing and traveling without your baby, you’ll need to bring along your breast pump. Pumping while traveling requires a few additional supplies, some of which you might not necessarily need when you are at home or if you’re traveling with your baby. This checklist will help ensure you’re ready for anything you might encounter during your travels.

  • Power cord, pump parts, tubing and breast shields: Next time you pump at home, make a note of all the parts and equipment you need prior to, during and after you have pumped. If you do not have all the essential parts with you, a breast pump is not going to do you any good.
  • A battery pack and extra batteries: Checking to confirm that your battery pack works before you leave your home and loading your pack with new batteries are among the most important details to remember. Forgetting your battery pack could leave you stranded without a working pump. Depending on the length of your trip, we recommend carrying an extra set or two of batteries. Pack the extra batteries in your carry-on bag can help to avoid any potential problem with checked luggage at the airport.
  • Adapter or converter: Breast pump electrical adapters often do not adjust to different voltages used internationally. Make sure you research and pack the appropriate power adapter or converter plug when traveling internationally to ensure your pump will work once you arrive at your final destination.
  • Cleaning supplies: Although accessing a place to scrub and clean the various parts of a pump might not always be possible while traveling, most offices and hotel rooms have a microwave, which is why we recommend purchasing microwave sanitizing bags for your trip. All you need to do is throw everything into these disinfecting bags and pop them into the microwave for about three minutes to ensure everything is sterile for the next use. Be sure to follow the specific manufacturer’s instructions and bear in mind that microwave voltages can vary.
  • Milk storage containers: If you intend to bring milk back after your trip, be sure you pack enough storage bags or containers. We recommend medical-grade, pre-sterilized storage containers since they are reliable and convenient. If possible, freeze your breast milk flat so that you can easily stack them up on your return trip.
  • Ice or cold packs: Ice or cold packs will help to keep your milk frozen on the return trip, which can come in handy for long or multi-segment flights. After traveling, putting the milk in a freezer as soon as possible is of the utmost importance since some thawing could occur. Once you get back home, use the milk pumped on the trip as soon as you can.
  • Hand sanitizer: Just in case you don’t already have one, packing a little bottle of hand sanitizer inside your carry-on is always a good idea.

Pack Smart

Fitting the pump into your small carry-on suitcase would ideal; however, this may not always be an option. You will otherwise have to check your luggage and keep your purse or computer bag and pump as carry-on items.

We suggest refraining from checking a breast pump as a stand-alone piece or in a suitcase. Aside from potentially being damaged in the shuffle, travel delays happen from time to time and luggage can get lost. Arriving at your destination without a functioning pump is the last thing you need on your trip.

Be Security Savvy

It is important to know your rights. Nursing mothers are allowed to travel with breast milk and breast pumps in the United States, regardless of whether pumping mothers are traveling with or without their children. Alerting security that you are traveling with a pump and/or milk upfront makes the process as smooth as possible, but if you are hassled or stopped, you should ask to speak to a supervisor.

The TSA classifies children’s juice, formula and breast milk in the same category as liquid medicine. As such, these substances are not subject to the 3 oz. rule applicable to other liquids and gels. Parents are permitted to pack ice packs, empty bottles, liquid-filled teethers and jarred baby food inside a carry-on as well.

Here are some additional security tips to help you experience a smooth journey through security:

  • Separate and declare your breast milk and equipment when going through the security checkpoint.
  • Pull the breast pump out of your carry-on and place it in a separate bin before your bag goes through the x-ray machine.
  • Inform the agent that it is a breast pump. Although you should be prepared for the possibility of additional screenings, tasting your breast milk is not a requirement. TSA officers might request you to open your containers during the process.

While there is no limit on the quantity of breast milk you can bring aboard in your carry-on, the TSA encourages traveling mothers to only bring the amount of breast milk, juice or formula necessary for that particular trip. If you are carrying breast milk on the return journey, place the milk inside a separate bin and then inform the agents that it is breast milk.

Pumping En Route

You might find it necessary to pump before you reach your destination. Fortunately, most major airports feature family bathrooms fitted with electrical power outlets, which provide a perfect place to pump. If you need to pump while aboard the airplane, especially on international or longer flights, ask the flight attendants to suggest a suitable pumping location.

Worth the Effort

Although pumping en route presents some unique challenges, it is ultimately worth the extra effort. With some planning, preparation, and patience, maintaining your milk production while away from your little one is entirely possible.

BreastPumps.com offers a wide variety of spare parts and accessories to ensure your breastfeeding journey is enjoyable for both you and your baby—regardless of where you’re pumping.

Used Breast Pumps: Are They A Safe Or Sanitary Option?

Used Breast Pumps: Are They A Safe Or Sanitary Option?

When you have a new baby, you will find yourself the beneficiary of many hand-me-downs from well-meaning friends whose children have outgrown common baby items. You might have a relative or friend who is willing to lend you a used pump, but you may not be sure whether using a previously owned breast pump is a good and safe option for you and your baby. Because we are concerned about the health and welfare of mothers and their babies, below is a detailed look at used breast pumps.

Rental vs. Personal Use Breast Pumps

You might have mistakenly assumed that it is safe to share used personal breast pumps because mothers usually share rental breast pumps safely. Unfortunately, this assumption cannot be further from the truth. Rental breast pumps feature a closed pumping system wich allow all the parts that come into contact with a mothers breastmilk to be replaced. The FDA has stringent guidelines on what makes a pump multi-user and most personal electric breast pumps do not meet these requirements.

Rental Breast Pumps

Rental pumps are ideally designed for multiple users and feature special filters and barriers that ensure milk does not enter the pump motor, preventing cross-contamination. Additionally, every single breastfeeding mother who rents a unit will have to use a personal set of breast shields, tubing and bottles to ensure safety. These collection kits are designed such that the milk never comes into contact with a rental pump’s working parts. Such pumps are known as closed system pumps.

Personal Use Breast Pumps

On the other hand, the personal use breast pumps available at your local store are considered personal care items, same as a toothbrush. Some breast pumps on the market today are considered “open systems,” meaning the pump’s motor might come into contact with a mother’s milk particles. Some breast pumps feature a “Closed System” which protect breast milk from bacteria, mold and viruses while pumping but are still designated as a single use pump. 

Issues Related To Health and Hygiene

When it comes to health and hygiene, the milk particles of another mother can be harmful to your baby. As a matter of fact, moms are advised to ensure any donor milk their babies receive is pasteurized to kill viruses, be it from another mother or a milk bank. Without a doubt, your milk is the best food for your baby. During pregnancy, your baby was safely exposed to every virus in your system. Unfortunately, another mother might be carrying a virus in her system, one that you don’t. If a virus passes to your baby through the other mother’s milk, it can cause serious illness. Additionally, mothers can have a virus in their milk without knowing they are carriers.

Reusing breast pumps presents certain risks, particularly if the units are not cleaned and sterilized properly. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and HIV (AIDS) are only but a few of the viruses that are potentially dangerous and transmitted through human milk. According to the FDA, cleaning and sterilizing a breast pump properly involves removing every fluid that enters the pumping mechanism. As such, mothers should not share a breast pump if proper sterilization cannot be achieved.

Other Issues

Because they do not want any legal responsibility should a child become seriously ill, most manufacturers don’t sell new collection kits. In fact, they advertise breast pumps as single-user products in their websites and actively discourage the reuse or reselling of previously owned breast pump equipment. Apart from the fact that you might compromise the safety of your breast milk while trying to get a good deal, you should also know that hospital grade pumps are the only ones approved for multiple users.

In addition to their different economic capabilities, every other mother has her own pumping needs. As a result, manufacturers have ensured breast pumps are available in a wide variety of styles and prices. With the Affordable Care Act, private carriers now have to offer breastfeeding insurance coverage for every new mother without cost sharing. In addition to providing breastfeeding education and support each time you deliver, your insurance plan also offers a new breast pump without a co-pay.

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