TSA Travel Tips for Nursing Mothers

TSA Travel Tips for Nursing Mothers

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  • 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.

Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding

Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding

You just spent nine months “eating for two,” and now that you are breastfeeding or pumping, you aren’t quite done yet. Your body is designed to make breast milk for your little one that is perfectly balanced in carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Moms who don’t eat nutritiously still provide their little ones with perfect breast milk because the body taps into its own reserves to make the milk. Unfortunately, while your diet won’t affect your little one’s milk, it will affect your own health. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way for both you and your little one to get the nutrition you need.


How to Eat Healthy Without Affecting Your Milk Supply

Your body works hard to make breast milk for your little one. You will need to consume 400 to 500 more calories a day in order to provide your body with the energy to make breast milk. This increase in caloric needs is why you may feel extra hungry while you are nursing.

Though there is no specific “breastfeeding diet” to follow, nutritionists recommend that breastfeeding moms try to get the following servings of food per day for optimal health:

  • 3 to 4 servings of healthy whole grains and complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes and oatmeal
  • 4 to 5 servings of whole fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, peas, apples and tomatoes
  • 1 or more servings of iron-rich foods, such as red meat and spinach
  • 3 servings of proteins, such as chicken breast, eggs, fish, turkey and lean pork cuts
  • 5 servings of calcium, such as milk, yogurt and cottage cheese
  • 1 to 2 servings of healthy fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocados
  • 2 to 3 servings per week of omega-3 rich foods, such as salmon and walnuts

Eating a well-balanced diet will help ensure that you don’t become deficient in any nutrients. Because your breast milk actually takes on the different flavors and scents of the foods you eat, some experts believe that eating healthy while you are nursing can expose your little one to a variety of different foods, which can make your baby more willing to eat a wider variety of foods when he or she is ready for solids.

Though your body is designed to continue to make breast milk even during times of famine or hardship, if you don’t eat enough calories or you avoid eating whole food groups, your milk can suffer over time.


Tips and Advice for Healthy Eating

  • Eat a small meal or a snack approximately every three hours to keep you from feeling hungry and to keep your energy levels high
  • Plan and prepare snacks ahead of time while your little one naps in order to avoid grabbing an unhealthy option when hunger strikes
  • Stash healthy snacks near the rocker where you breastfeed, in the diaper bag and with your breast pump in case you get hungry while nursing or pumping
  • Make a list of foods that seem to affect your little one and keep it on the fridge for easy reference
  • Don’t focus on counting calories; eat when you are hungry and stop as soon as you are satisfied because your caloric needs can increase/decrease depending on your little one’s hunger levels

Foods to Avoid

The good news is that you can relax on the dietary rules that your doctor gave you during pregnancy. This means that it’s now okay to occasionally eat/drink:

  • Coffee (try to drink right after nursing/pumping to avoid your little one getting too much caffeine)
  • Alcohol (try to drink right after nursing or pumping so that your body can metabolize it before breastfeeding again)
  • Soft cheeses
  • Shellfish
  • Sushi

Unfortunately, while most foods are no longer off-limits, you will quickly learn that your little one’s body can’t handle some of the foods that you eat. It typically takes anywhere from two to six hours for the foods you eat to make it into your breast milk. Your little one may because extra fussy, gassy or have diarrhea after you eat the following:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Chocolate
  • Spices
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwifruit
  • Pineapple
  • Melons

Weight Loss and Breastfeeding

After nine months of not fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans, you probably can’t wait to get your pre-pregnancy body back. It is possible to lose weight while breastfeeding, but it’s a good idea to not cut back until your little one is about two months old. By this time, your milk supply should be well-established and you can safely try to lose weight by cutting 200 to 300 calories from your diet each day.

A safe amount of weight to lose while breastfeeding is one pound per week. Avoid crash or fad diets that severely cut calories or food groups and promise large amounts of weight loss as these can harm the quality and quantity of your milk over time.

Being able to provide your little one breast milk through nursing or pumping is the best way to give your baby the best nutritious start in life. Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and continuing to take your prenatal vitamin each day will give you and your little one all of the nutrients and vitamins you need for optimal health.

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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