Posted on: 11 November 2015
Nursing mothers can't take their babies with them everywhere, but they have to keep expressing milk or risk drying up. Enter the trusty breast pump! It's the best friend of every road warrior mom, but newbies likely find the prospect of traveling with a breast pump terrifying. Not only do the logistics seem complicated, the news is nearly constantly feeding viewers horror stories of nursing mothers being shamed on airplanes, being forced to check their pump rather than carry it on, or taste their own milk to prove it isn't explosive. Knowledge is power, however, so if you go into your next flight knowing TSA laws and being armed with a few tips from fellow traveling and pumping moms, you should experience no turbulence.
The TSA views breast pumps like any other type of carry-on, and they are subject to the same restrictions. You can bring one carry-on and one personal item, and all carry-ons have to go through the X-ray machine. If you're traveling with a pump and no baby, you won't need much, so stash your e-reader and headphones in your pump bag to cut down on baggage. If you plan on carrying your milk home with you rather than pumping and dumping, that's also allowed. It is your right to refuse X-ray screening of your milk, but you might be asked to go through additional screening procedures, such as a pat down or manual screening of your bags. You also may be asked to pour out a little of your milk so it can be tested for explosives.
If you plan to pump while flying, you'll need to be prepared. Try to get a window seat where you'll have the most privacy. Which aisle you choose is a toss-up. You have a better chance of sitting next to an empty seat on the back of the plane, but you'll be right next to the line for the bathroom and all of the action happening in the galley. Wear loose fitting clothes, and drink lots of water. Remember how drying airplane air can be.
Whether you choose to pump at your seat or in the bathroom, make sure you know exactly how your pump works so you're not fumbling with wires. The best time to pump is during drink service or the movie. Fewer people will be moving around, so you'll have privacy in your seat or can tie up the bathroom for longer than normal without inconveniencing too many people. Bring a baby blanket or light jacket for extra privacy if you'll be pumping in your seat. And before the flight takes off, let your seatmate know of your plans so seating can be rearranged if the person you're next to is uncomfortable with pumping. Finally, make the flight attendant your friend! Let him or her know you'll be in the bathroom a while. Enlist his or her help if your seatmate is uncomfortable, and if you're on a long flight, ask if he or she can put your properly labeled milk on ice.
For more help with and information about breast pumps, talk to a company like M-D Choice Medical Supply.