Flying and Traveling While Breastfeeding

December 11, 2013
Flying and Traveling While Breastfeeding

With a little extra planning, traveling while breastfeeding or pumping is totally possible – but it’s not always easy. Fortunately, companies are starting to take note of this reality and are providing nursing moms with increased support and accommodations. For example, Burlington International Airport in Vermont recently introduced a “Lactation Station” pod designed to give breastfeeding moms a bit of privacy and Chicago’s Hard Rock Hotel offers a Nursing Mothers Amenity Program, which includes a hospital-grade pump, safe breastmilk storage, and more. Even if you don’t come across these types of amenities in your travels, you can still be proactive and prepare for liftoff with the right information.

Tips for traveling while breastfeeding, with or without your little one:

  • Get to know breastfeeding resources surrounding your destination. Search our locator to find Medela retailers, lactation professionals, and nursing centers so you can know where to turn if you run into troubles at any point in your trip. iPhone users can also use Medela’s iBreastfeed app to find breastfeeding and pumping-friendly locations nationwide.
  • Call ahead. Request a refrigerator in your hotel room and let your airline know you’ll be traveling with a pump and/or breastmilk. It never hurts to give a heads-up, plus they might be able to arrange for special accommodations, making your trip even smoother. You absolutely can use a breastpump or breastfeed on an airplane, but you can ask if they have any specific policies or recommendations regarding breastfeeding.
  • Prepare your breastpump + kit. Make sure you have all the breastpump parts and accessories you need, as well as some extras just in case. Also pack a traveler’s health kit or a few first aid supplies and a printed copy of the TSA’s official policy on traveling with breastmilk in your pump bag.
  • Prepare for storage. Storing your breastmilk in an insulated cooler bag with an icepack will keep it safe for up to 24 hours. You can ask a flight attendant for ice, or on a longer flight, see if they’re able to refrigerate your milk for you. Once you reach your destination and depending on your trip length, you may consider shipping your breastmilk home in dry ice.
  • Stock up on on-the-go cleaning supplies. Quick Clean Wipes remove breastmilk residue without soap and water. Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam bags disinfect breastpump parts in just 3 minutes. You can also use a Micro-Steam Bag to store pump parts between sessions.
  • Consider using a baby sling if you’re traveling with your little one. Keeping baby close not only provides comfort in unfamiliar situations, but it allows for discreet breastfeeding. Baby slings also free up your hands while letting you be more in-tune with your baby’s cues.

What to know when going through security with breastmilk:

  • As soon as you can, tell the officer or inspector at the security checkpoint that you are carrying breastmilk and present it for inspection.
  • Because breastmilk is considered liquid medication, you can carry on more than 3 oz. However, the TSA encourages you to only carry as much breastmilk as you need to reach your destination. Icepacks used to cool breastmilk are also allowed under this exemption.
  • Security officers cannot ask you to taste or test the breastmilk, but they can ask you to open bottles during your screening. Keep milk in clear storage bags or bottles to make the inspection process as smooth as possible.
  • Portable, personal-use electric breastpumps such as the Freestyle or Pump In Style Advanced are considered personal items and may be carried on and stowed under your seat, similar to a diaper bag or purse.

Have you traveled with your baby and/or with your breastpump or breastmilk? What tips can you share with other moms?

9 thoughts on “Flying and Traveling While Breastfeeding

  1. I had several trial and errors while pumping while traveling. The best tip I can offer from my experience is while on the plane, make sure to inform a steward that you will need a restroom for an extended period of time to express milk so they can help you have privacy. I made the mistake of not saying anything on one flight and had half the plane mad at me for tying up a toilet room. Having people banging on the door and yelling at you is not pleasant.

  2. Ice packs MUST be completely frozen if you are bringing on a plane. I had a half frozen ice pack thrown out, compromising all my milk in the cooler, bc the ice pack had half melted. 🙁

    • Hi Laura – Sorry to hear about the trouble you had flying with your cooler. Thanks for mentioning this, it’s something important to keep in mind when flying with breastmilk. Have a great day!

  3. I am an exclusive pumper and will be traveling (over 24hrs of flight journey) next week. I have some frozen breast milk and need suggestions on how to keep it frozen throughout the journey. I also plan on pumping every 3 hrs in the flight. Will the medela cooler packs be sufficient to keep them cool until I get home and stick in the refrigerator?

    • Hi Preethi,

      Thanks for reaching out to us. We recommend using multiple ice packs. Freshley expressed breastmilk can be stored in a cooler with 3 ice packs for up to 24 hours before being transferred to a refrigerator. If you have further questions, you can reach out to our Lactation Consultant here: Hope this helps!

  4. Are Medela battery packs and extra batteries allowed as carry-on on international flights ? If they are, can you please point me to the IATA guidelines for this .

    • Hi Ann,

      We recommend following TSA guidelines, which can be found here: If you have further questions, please reach out to the airline you plan to fly with, as they would be able to confirm this for you. Thanks for reaching out, and we hope you have smooth travels!

  5. No issues at the airport, but my 4+ star hotel had me in tears! I had to make an emergency trip to visit two very sick relatives and called the hotel about freezing my milk. I was told that half of the rooms have freezers, half do not. If I got one without, they would put my stored milk in the hotel freezer. Sure enough, when the time came, the restaurant manager said she thought it was a major health code violation. After I broke down in tears, and threatened to sue, they said they would do it anyway (which is why I am not naming the hotel chain). What if I had a medication that needed to be kept in the freezer? I haven’t picked up my milk yet, and I am hoping for the best.

    • Hi Angie,

      We’re so sorry to hear about your experience with your hotel. Thanks for sharing this with us and our readers. We hope that everything worked out with your milk, and that the hotel staff can learn from this and be more accommodating of breastfeeding moms in the future!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment validation by @