As the holiday season approaches its time to start booking those tickets and packing those bags. Traveling with children, especially an unpredictable baby is not an easy task, especially on a long haul flight. I know that many mothers who exclusively breastfeed their baby have many concerns when it comes to flying and feeding on an airplane.  Here are some breastfeeding travel tips to help you prepare for your upcoming trip.

Super Breastfeeding Travel Tips:

(1) Airplane Attire: Wear a comfortable breastfeeding top that allows relatively easy access to your nipples. If you get cold on the plane, bring a zip jacket, rather than a sweater, since the latter is easier to remove. Also, try to air on the side of modesty. Wear a top that is more covering, where very little shows even if you have to feed your baby without a cover (or feed while standing up and rocking).

(2) Breastfeeding Cover: Bring your breastfeeding cover on the plane. Although, by the end of the plane ride, don’t be surprised if your entire row has gotten a peek at your breasts. Modesty goes out the window when you have a screaming baby at 50,000 feet in the air!

(3) Breastfeeding Pillow: If you are accustomed to using a breastfeeding pillow, try to bring it along with you on the plane. A breastfeeding pillow can serve both as a breastfeeding pillow and as comfortable resting spot for your sleeping baby.

(4) Bottle or Pacifier: Due to the change in air pressure, it is important for babies to suck on something during take-off and landing. Since you and your baby have to wear a seatbelt, it might be difficult to breastfeed when your baby needs to suck the most. If your baby takes the bottle, make sure you have a bottle of milk warmed up/ready to go, and try to avoid feeding the baby (if possible) until you actual take-off or begin your descent. Be careful, because sometimes you think the airplane is taking off, when actual it is just circling the runway waiting for clearance. If your baby does not use the bottle, make sure you bring a pacifier and try to get your baby to suck on it during take-off and landing.

(5) Pumped Breastmilk: Bring pumped milk. If you are going on a long journey, being frozen bags of breastmilk on dry ice. Trust me, it’s better to have more milk than less on a flight (especially if your baby hasn’t started formula or solids).

Note: Don’t forget to bring a lot of clean bottles.  There is no way to sterilize your dirty bottles on a flight, although many airlines will offer to rinse out your bottles in boiling hot water (which will have to suffice in an emergency situation).  Also, make sure you heat your bottle up in advance of when you will need it.  Frozen milk takes some time to thaw and flight attendants get busy and might not be able to heat your milk up right away.

(6) Breast Pump: Bring your breast pump on the plane instead of checking it in. Since I had the Medela Freestyle pump it was very easy to pack in my carry on. I have actually pumped numerous times while on an airplane (even when I was traveling alone with my 3 month old). You can either go to the bathroom and pump, or do what I did, and pump at your seat. Make sure your baby is secure in the bassinet or have someone hold your baby. Then you just put on your breastfeeding cover and attach your pump.  No one can see what you are doing and it is too loud on the plane to actually hear the otherwise very loud pump. Before you know it, 10-15 minutes later you have a fresh bottle of milk for your baby.

Note: Even if you don’t plan on pumping on the plane, make sure you keep it handy.  Since my child was drinking so much breastmilk from a bottle rather than direct feeding, my breasts were engorged and in pain on the flight and I had to pump even though I already had enough bottles of milk.

(7) Lactating Supplements: If you take any supplements to produce milk: fenugreek, Motilium, goats rue, etc., make sure you pack a small supply in your carry-on bag. My friend’s luggage got lost and she was without her supplements for a few days. She was able to produce enough milk without her supplements, but she was really stressed out that her supply might drop. After hearing her story, I made it a point to always have an extra stash of lactation supplements in my bag. You are going on a holiday, it’s supposed to be fun, not stressful – the last thing you need is to worry about your milk supply.

Just remember that breastfeeding on an airplane may be a new experience for you, but just being on an airplane is definitely a new experience for your baby. Just be prepared, relax and hope for the best. The plane ride will be over before you know it.

Have a great holiday!!