Travel Tips for Pumping Mamas

Traveling for the holidays can be stressful under any circumstances. Add a breast pump, a fussy baby or an unexpected diaper blowout to the mix – and your stress levels can be through the roof.

There have been some pretty distressing stories circulating lately about milk-related travel disasters.

Whether you are exclusively pumping, or exclusively nursing, who wouldn’t love a few extra minutes of sleep while someone else gives your sweet little one a bottle of EBM. Yes, your MIL is perfectly capable!

Here are some tips to get you and your pump safely to your destination as fuss-free as possible.

First of all – know your rights! Not all airline employees are equally knowledgeable about the rules and regulations. Keep a printed list of the TSA guidelines, and be prepared to do some educating if needed.

“3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption
Formula, breast milk and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do need to not fit within a quart-sized bag. Separate formula, breast milk and juice from other liquids, gels and aerosols limited to 3.4 ounces.
Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in carry-on. If these accesories are partially frozen or slushy, they are subject to the same screening as described above. You may also bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred and processed baby food in carry-on baggage. These items may be subject to additional screening.”

Plan in advance how you will carry your pump – even if you don’t plan to pump until you arrive at your destination, you may unexpectedly find the need to use it (flight delay, power napping baby) and it won’t help if it’s in your checked luggage.

airplane Fern

Keep in mind a breast pump is considered a medical device (check and print your airline’s specific policy) and does not count toward your carry on limit. During busy and crowded holiday flights, this may be harder to enforce. That being said, you may want to consolidate and not feel bogged down with too many items. Consider carrying your pump, personal items and diapers/wipes etc. in a single bag for ease.


If you plan to pump on the plane, a swaddle blanket or nursing cover and the loud engine noise should do a good job of keeping people out of your business!

Check an airport map, or call your airline to see if there’s somewhere private and clean to pump. Many airports, even small regional ones (shout out to Akron Canton!) have lounges just for breastfeeding and pumping moms.  And you may be lucky enough to find one of the amazing pods by Mamava: a clean, functional, and beautifully designed free-standing lactation station- complete with power outlets.

lactation lounge

But check in advance! You don’t want to find out the swanky new lounge is over in Terminal 5 when your flight leaves from Terminal 1.

Don’t forget a portable adapter with extra batteries in case an outlet is hard to come by.

Plan how you will store your milk while you are away, and in addition to milk storage bags or bottles, don’t forget bottles & nipples for feeding too – even if you are exclusively nursing at home.

Letting your SO, your parents, or your in-laws give a bottle is a wonderful bonding experience for them, and did we mention the part about extra sleep for you??

So Happy Holidays and Happy Pumping!

Wishing you the gifts of peace, love, health, happiness and SLEEP!


Adrienne & the Nurse Purse Family

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