As National Breastfeeding Month and summer wind down and work travel resumes for many, Team Josie wants to highlight some resources that can help provide peace of mind for keeping your pumped breastmilk safe while traveling. The importance of knowing your rights to carry breastmilk and spaces to pump at the airport when flying cannot be understated! We are aware of too many parents who have had traumatic experiences while flying with pumped breastmilk and as a pumping, working parent you probably already have a full plate as it is, so we want to help you mitigate potential issues.
Without further ado, our best tips and tricks for flying with a breast pump and breastmilk:
- Flying with Pumped Breastmilk – TIP: Per the TSA website, you are allowed to pack breastmilk in your checked bag AND in a carry-on bag. Breastmilk is considered a “medically necessary liquid” and is allowed in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. This exception also applies to breastmilk cooling “accessories” like ice packs (make sure they are frozen solid and not slushy!). You can also find ice from restaurants or other vendors once through security if you do not have ice packs. At security, inform the TSA officer you are carrying breastmilk and remove it from your carry-on to be screened separately. Important to note: screening will “never include placing anything into the medically necessary liquid” so you don’t need to worry that anyone will tamper with your breastmilk for testing. You may also inform the TSA officer you do not wish to have your breastmilk x-rayed or opened; additional steps will be taken to clear the breastmilk. Check the TSA website linked above for more detailed information prior to your trip. TRICK: To ensure the TSA officers are aware of your breastmilk rights, you can print out or grab a screenshot of the TSA rules to show an officer while going through security.
- Flying with a Breast Pump – TIP: According to the TSA website, you are allowed to pack a breast pump in both your carry-on and in your checked bag. TRICK: Some airlines consider a breast pump a medical device and do not count it as a carry-on or toward your bag limit. Check ahead with your airline if this is important to you!
- Pumping Spaces in Airports – TIP: Airports are required by law (Friendly Airports for Mothers Act and Friendly Airports for Mothers Improvement Act) to provide private lactation spaces for pumping and breastfeeding parents. TRICK: Finding these spaces may be tricky, but a service like Mamava, which provides individual pumping and nursing pods in many airports and other locations, can help you locate and access spaces through its app. The pod may be occupied so make sure to plan ahead and leave ample time in your travel schedule.
- Breastmilk Shipping Options – TIP: If you can, skip the entire potential headache of flying with pumped breastmilk and utilize a service to ship it back home for you. This can be especially helpful on a longer trip where you are gone for multiple days and/or travelling long distance. TRICK: Prior to traveling, check with your employer on any breastmilk shipping benefits they may provide, such as allowing pumping parents to use FedEx or a service like Milk Stork to safely ship your pumped milk home.
- After Arrival – TIP: Similar to #3 above, you can also see what accommodations your destination airport may have for pumping and breastfeeding. In addition, ask ahead of time if your office destination has dedicated space you can reserve in advance. TRICK: Sometimes hotels can store your milk in their kitchen freezers if the fridge in your room won’t suffice – call ahead and find out!
We know travelling and pumping is no easy task, and that every working parent’s breastfeeding experience is different. Hopefully these tips and tricks help mitigate some of the stress associated with flying and work-related travel. Safe travels – and here’s hoping you can enjoy a quiet hotel room!