by Linda Mansolillo
Returning to the workplace while maintaining an adequate milk supply can be very challenging. One of our amazing mothers was very successful in her goal to provide her baby with ample breastmilk while working full time and traveling. Linda Mansolillo has generously taken time out from her hectic schedule to compile a long list of invaluable tips for pumping while traveling and working outside the home.
General Pumping Tips for the Working Mama
- Keep baby reminders with you, videos, lovies, pictures to help you remember this amazing person you are doing this for
- Keep a supply of scarves in your car/tied to your purse for coverage if you need to pump in unexpected places
- Pack extra zip lock bags to separate dirty parts
- Pack the night before as you are less like to forget something
- Invest in a manual/hand pump in case your electric one breaks
- If all else fails hand express in a bathroom after you've put some warm towels on your breasts to help release milk
- Be an advocate for your pump time- that meeting you need to leave to pump is not more important. No one needs to know why, but just make sure you make the time
- Try to squeeze in an extra pump at home, if you can, early in the morning after the baby has fed, or if your milk supply is high, pump one side and feed the baby on the other. This is a great tip to build up extra bottles quickly!
- Have a shirt/bra stash for a random leak accident
- Dress for a successful pump, meaning any top or dress you can get to your breasts easily. Be wary of silk if you don't catch the milk drips as it will leave a stain
- Consider bottle bags with ice packs built in so you can toss and grab from freezer (not recommended for travel as TSA will require any ice pack not completely solid to be thrown away and you don't want to lose your whole cooler)
- Place flanges and pump parts in the refrigerator between pumps so you don't have to wash them until the end of the day
- Buy Medela Quick Clean Micro-steam sterilizing bags for extra convenience and good cleaning
- When finished pumping have a towel either on your lap or ready to catch the drips as this can save clothing changes and or stains
- Keep a full set of pump parts at work
- Invest in a car charger and battery pack- many women pump on the drive in
- Consider renting a bigger pump to keep in your office, or check to see if your office has them available
We rent Hospital Grade Breast Pumps.
Travel Specific Tips for Working Flying Mama's
- Buy a spare AC wall plug, a battery pack, batteries, and plane charger. You may need all options aircraft dependent. If you travel a lot make sure to test the batteries before you leave or have a spare set. Also note that some battery packs require 8 batteries (4 per side)
We only carry a few pump parts on our website, but call either of our stores and we'll be happy to gather up what you need for pickup, or call the Hollywood store and we can have what you need shipped. Santa Monica: (310) 998-1981 Hollywood: (323) 469-5300.
- Invest in lots of ice packs as you may be forced to throw them away if they are not frozen solid by the TSA, or as leaks may happen during transportation and they become dirty.
- If pumping on the plane in the restroom let a flight attendant know, so they don't get concerned
- Don't be afraid to pump in your seat- airplanes are extremely loud so you can't hear the pump. Bring a blanket, scarf, or in a pinch ask for an airplane blanket
- Consider pumping one side at at time on the plane into a larger bottle so you can stick it right in the cooler and avoiding taking too much cooler space and/or having to pour the milk on the plane
- Don't be afraid to try and pump in nice places if you're traveling- hotel ladies room lounges, airline lounges etc. One great spot is some lounges have showers you can use, which is a nice private room with water and plugs. A good backup is the family restrooms
- Baristas and flight attendants will give you free ice if you need it while traveling
- Buy and travel with milk storage bags, they take up less space in your cooler but bring at least two bottles for pumping on the plane, and so you have alternatives
- Use your flange as funnel to pour the milk into the bags
- Make sure you know milk transport guidelines- for example milk is good in a cooler for a TOTAL of 24 hours, so you can transport your milk, store it at your hotel in a refrigerator, and then transport it on a cooler back home as long as it is not in the freezer bag >24hrs
- Call hotels ahead to make sure you have a refrigerator with a freezer in your room- they normally will charge you nothing if you say it is for breastmilk. Some minibar refrigerators are cool enough
- If your hotel room doesn't have a freezer you will likely get push back from the hotel about freezing your ice because of food storage laws, so pack extra bags so you can make new ice packs if needed
- Check to make sure your milk storage bags have little air and are sealed properly as the cabin pressure may cause them to open and leak
- Plan to spend about 10 minutes longer then normal getting through security even with TSA PreCheck as they may want to do additional testing
The Pump Station & Nurtury® has decades of experience providing new families with outstanding educational, breastfeeding and baby care support, including products and classes which can make all the difference to you and your baby. To see a list of some of the essential products that our Lactation Consultants have recommended, click Essential Breastfeeding Products
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This article has not been prepared by a physician, is not intended as medical advice, and is not a substitute for regular medical care. Consult with a physician if medical symptoms or problems occur.