TIPS FOR PUMPING ON THE GO FROM A TRAVELING MAMA
I will start by saying I exclusively pumped with our son for almost 16 months. Throughout that time, we traveled to Colorado Springs, Beijing, Cabo, Ohio, and Hawaii. I’ve done a lot of pumping in different places during my year and a half breastfeeding journey.
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That means I’ve traveled with frozen breast milk, freshly pumped breast milk, had to pump on flights, had to pump at airports, and pumped in interesting places (in a van on our way to the Great Wall of China).
Over almost a year and a half of my breastfeeding journey, I learned all the tips and trips to pumping on the go. Here are the tips that worked for me to make pumping on the go easier.
10 TIPS FOR PUMPING ON THE GO
After pumping for well over a year while traveling the world, I have compiled ten tips for pumping on the go.
These tips will help to pump on the go less stressful and can result in producing more milk. Here are my ten tips for pumping on the go from a traveling mama.
1. Get a Reliable Breast Pump
The most crucial thing to a pumping mom is a reliable breast pump. I will be the first to say, not all breast pumps are created equal.
I had four breast pumps, and no you did not read that wrong. I had four different breast pumps before finding the perfect one for me. The one that worked best for me was the Spectra S2.
Most Popular Breast Pumps
2. Always pack Spare Pieces inside Ziploc Bag
As a traveling mom having spare pieces was essential. It made it easy to pump if I didn’t have the time or equipment to clean my pump pieces. The Ziploc bag is to store your pump pieces in the refrigerator if you have access to one.
A hack I learned while pumping as a traveler was to store my pieces in a Ziploc bag in the fridge as soon as I was done with them. This reduced the number of times I needed to clean the pieces.
If we were at a hotel or Airbnb, I would pump, put the pieces in a Ziploc bag, then store them in the fridge until it was time to pump again. This could save you time, and before you ask, it is safe. I checked with my lactation consultant before doing so she encouraged it.
3. Wear a Comfortable Bra
I went from wearing small sports bras to a 3-XL while pregnant and after having our son. The size of your breasts will fluctuate based on much milk is inside.
At times my bra was more comfortable than others, so make sure you are wearing a comfortable bra that isn’t too tight.
Also, a looser bra will decrease the likelihood of leaking. I’ve had to deal with embarrassing leaks while at work and wearing a slightly larger bra helped, along with completely emptying my breast
4. Go Hands-Free
While pumping at work, I needed to use my hands to type, so going hands-free was crucial. It also made pumping on flights easier. Having a quality hands-free pumping bra was a life-saver.
5. Always Pack the Night Before
Some days I would wait until the morning before we left to pack, and I always forgot something. To avoid forgetting one of my pump pieces, storage bags, or adapter, I started packing the night before.
Trust me; you do not want to forget a crucial pump piece. It’s easier to pack when you have time than it is when you are rushing.
While in Beijing, I forgot to pack my suction pieces, which resulted in over eight hours without pumping. Painful is an understatement.
My breasts felt like rocks because my body was used to me pumping every 3-4 hours. This is why I recommend always having a manual pump, to express some milk if you aren’t able to pump.
6. Pump Directly into Breast Milk Storage Bags
This is one of the most important travel hacks for pumping moms. Pumping directly into breastmilk storage bags is the best way to get all of your milk into the bag, plus it makes transporting it easier.
Using breast milk storage bags instead of bottles reduces the risk of spills, and saves space in your breast milk cooler bag.
7. Have a Manual Breast Pump (as backup)
While traveling, something will always come up, so having a manual pump will help express milk when you don’t have time for a full pump session. Using a manual breast pump will relieve the pressure in your breasts when they are full.
While in Beijing, I forgot one of my pieces for my Spectra S2 breast pump and the manual pump at the hotel. I had to go over 10 hours without pumping.
The pain was indescribable. I had to take a hot shower and massage my breast to relieve some of the pressure to pump. By the time I did pump, it took over an hour to completely drain both breasts.
Most Popular Manual Breast Pumps
8. Have a Pumping Schedule
One of the ways I was able to get my body to produce as much as it did was by sticking to a schedule. When you think schedule, you may be thinking about a specific time, but that isn’t the case.
As long as you are consistent with pumping, your body will know when to produce milk and when it will be expressed.
I used to pump every 3-4 hours, no matter what, up until our son was 4-months-old. After he started sleeping through the night, I increased the time to every 4 – 6 hours.
As our son got older, I continued to increase the time between pumps. Although the number of pump sessions decreased, I still got a large amount of milk.
By the time our son was 14 months old, I was only pumping 2 -3 times a day and would get 12 – 14 ounces per pumping session. You don’t have to be on a strict schedule, just enough to get your body into a rhythm.
9. Drink a lot of Water
To produce breastmilk, you need to be hydrated. I tried to drink a gallon of water a day, and although I usually failed, I was able to drink at least 3/4 of a gallon every day. Staying hydrated helps fuel your body, so remember to drink a lot of water.
10. Always have Snacks
Another part of pumping on the go is fueling your body. While breastfeeding or pumping, your body burns between 200 – 600 calories per day.
To continue to produce milk, you need to consume more calories. This doesn’t mean you need to eat junk. You must consume enough calories to continue helping your body produce breastmilk.
Tip: Make sure you eat breakfast in the morning. I had oatmeal and coffee, which filled me up before my morning snack.
WHAT TO PACK WHEN PUMPING ON THE GO
Anytime we traveled, the first bag I packed was my pumping equipment. I made sure I had everything I needed at least 3 days before we left. Here are all of the things that I used when I was pumping on the go.
Portable Breast Pump (Spectra S1 & S9)
I know you may be wondering, do you need two breast pumps? The answer is no. I wanted a more compact breast pump for traveling, so that is why I purchased the Spectra S9. It was my go-to travel breast pump for flights, airports, and while we were out exploring.
I used the Spectra S2 while we were in the room. Since it is a larger hospital-grade breast pump, it was faster than the portable one, and I pumped more milk in less time. If you need a reliable hospital-grade rechargeable breast pump, the Spectra S1 is the way to go.
Sarah Wells Portable Cooler
- Perfectly complements the style of your Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bag >> The patented Cold Gold breastmilk cooler bag is designed to match your breast pump bag...
- Protect Your Breastmilk AKA “Liquid Gold!” >> Each Cold Gold cooler bag has top-of-the-line insulation and comes with a high-quality custom Sarah Wells ice...
- Not just stylish, but super functional too >> As always, Sarah brings you the best in both style and functionality. Cold Gold features premium, easy-to-clean...
I used the Sarah Wells Portable Cooler when transporting my pump pieces and breast milk to and from work. It was easy to clip the cooler onto my backpack.
For moms that want a portable cooler with style, this is it. I didn’t store bottles, so if you need to transport bottles to daycare, this may not fit certain bottle brands.
My go-to cooler for traveling with breast milk was the Momcozy Insulated Baby Bottle Bag because it could accommodate our Tommee Tippee bottles.
Best Ice Packs for Traveling with Breast Milk
Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping Bra
- HANDS-FREE BREAST PUMP BRA - Impeccable design, maximum comfort, and the freedom for you to work on tasks or simply relax while pumping.
- FULLY ADJUSTABLE PUMPING BRA: Comes with a convenient 11" adjustable Velcro back panel to ensure a perfect fit as your body goes through natural postpartum...
- Hands-Free Pumping Bra for all Major Brands: WORKS WITH ALL MAJOR BRANDS - Including Medela, Philips AVENT, Lansinoh, Bellababy, Evenflo, and Spectra Baby.
I would lift my shirt and pull my bra over my breast (I wear sports bras, so it was easy) and put this bra on without taking my shirt off. I could work, get things done around the house, and even use it while pumping on a plane because it is discreet.
Honestly, this is the most crucial pumping accessory for busy moms pumping on the go. There are other styles, but I didn’t like them, but maybe you will.
Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags
- SUPER STRONG - Store, protect, and freeze precious breastmilk with these breast milk storing bags
- PRESTERILIZED - Our milk storage bags have a double zipper seal to prevent leaks
- REINFORCED SEAM - Double sealed side seams for super strong breast milk collecting bags
While pumping on the go, I always pumped into the Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags. They are easy to connect to the adapters, and I could pump 8-9 ounces into the bags.
I know it is not recommended to pump more than 6 ounces in each bag, but I’m a rebel, plus I was producing over 60 oz a day, so I wanted to reduce the number of bags I was using.
Throughout my breastfeeding journey, I did have a few instances of leakage from one box. Since the milk was contaminated, I immediately contacted the company and they sent two replacement boxes.
Sometimes manufacturers make a mistake, or there are quality control issues. I know how important liquid gold is to moms and babies, so losing some can be devastating, especially if you do not produce a lot of milk.
If you have a problem with these breastmilk storage bags, I recommend contacting the company. Based on my experience, they were understanding and did everything possible to come to an acceptable resolution.
Best-Selling Storage Bags
Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack
- Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy packs provide therapeutic relief for the most common breastfeeding challenges
- Cold Therapy: relieves engorgement, swelling and pain, common challenges during the early days of nursing
- Hot Therapy: relieves plugged ducts and mastitis and encourages milk let-down during breastfeeding
The Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack helped with my letdown, so I was able to pump more milk faster. While at work, I would warm the packs and place them on my breast for 2-3 minutes. This allowed me to relax and helped my milk drop before I started pumping.
If I didn’t have access to a microwave, I’d run it under warm water for a few minutes, and although it wasn’t as hot, it still helped.
I believe this therapy pack is one of the things that helped me to pump over 60 ounces per day and allowed me to donate milk to other babies.
Breastmilk Storage Bag Adapters
- The patented adapters (2 pc in this listing) allow you to pump directly into most popular breastmilk storage bags like Lansinoh and Nuk. Patented in both Taiwan...
- No milk loss due to transferring from collection bottles to bags; Clear in color for seeing the milk coming out during pumping.
- Fits most wide neck breastshields (Avent, Spectra S1/S2 wide mouth flanges);
Using a Breastmilk Storage Bag Adapter is the ultimate pumping hack for traveling moms. Pumping directly into the breastmilk storage bags reduces spillage, and you get every drop inside the bag. I was usually able to fill up a bag to 8 ounces (with each breast, so a total of 16 oz. per pump session), although going over 6 ounces is not recommended.
This adapter is specifically for wide brim flanges, like the ones used by the Spectra brand pumps. I included the ones that I used, but there are adapters for other size flanges.
If you use a narrow brim flange, there is another adapter that can be used. For working or traveling moms, you need to use an adapter to pump directly into the storage bag.
Medela Breast Pump Cleaning Wipes
- CONVENIENT CLEANING: These wipes are perfect for breast pump accessories and everything baby-related
- PORTABLE: Keep a pack in your pump bag, favorite pumping area at home and car
- EFFICIENT: Hygienic wipes engineered to clean quickly and efficiently. One wipe cleans breast shields, valves, and membranes and can be used anywhere and at any...
I used the Medela Breast Pump Cleaning Wipes when I didn’t have access to water to clean them properly. Although washing your pump pieces with soap and water is the best, if you are pumping on the go and do not have access to soap and water, these wipes are the perfect alternative.
I’ve pumped in a lot of different places, so soap and water aren’t always available. These cleaning wipes are unscented, alcohol and bleach-free. After you clean your pump pieces with these wipes, you can pump again knowing they are clean.
Medela Breast Pump Accessories
Nenesupply Pump Parts
- NENESUPPLY COMPATIBLE PUMP PARTS FOR SPECTRA S1 SPECTRA S2 SPECTRA 9 PLUS BREASTPUMPS. Made by Nenesupply. Not Original Spectra S1 accessories. Inc 2 Large 27mm...
- AFTERMARKET PARTS MADE BY NENESUPPLY. INTERCHANGEABLE WITH SPECTRA PUMP PARTS and Spectra S2 Accessories. Can be used with Spectra flange, Spectra backflow...
- USED WITH WIDE-MOUTH BOTTLES. Use this kit with Spectra bottles, Avent bottles, and Nenesupply wide mouth bottles. DOES NOT work with OTHER WIDE NECK BOTTLES....
I used the Nenesupply Pump Parts as my backup for my Spectra S2 breast pump. Having extra pieces eliminated the need to clean the parts after pumping if I didn’t have access to a sink.
These are not the original, but they are more affordable than the Spectra brand parts. Plus, there are different sizes to choose from, so you can get the right size flange for your breasts.
Trust me; if you are pumping on the go, you will need at least one set of extra pieces. It will save you time, especially if you are traveling with your little one.
Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter
- USDA CERTIFIED ORGANIC: Earth Mama’s Organic Nipple Butter is USDA Certified Organic, made with herbs and oils that are traditionally used to soothe and...
- NO petroleum, NO preservatives, and NO lanolin: Our calendula cream is safe for mama and baby so no need to wash or wipe it off before nursing your newborn...
- TRUSTED BY HOSPITALS: Our nipple butter has been chosen by hospital NICUs, medical professionals, and nurses around the country. We're on a mission to free...
I used a lot of different brands of nipple cream while I was pumping breast milk. My favorite nipple cream was the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter.
Another popular brand is the Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream, which was pretty good, but I preferred the Earth Mama Nipple Butter.
Best-Selling Nipple Cream
Babyganics Foaming Dish & Bottle Soap for Travel
If you have access to water and a sink, I recommend cleaning your pump pieces. I always kept the Babyganics Foaming Dish & Bottle Soap for Travel to clean my pump pieces in the restroom.
I love Babganics, so we used a lot of their products when our son was a baby. We still use the Babyganics hand sanitizer now that he’s 2-years-old.
I know this isn’t the ideal place, but I would use a bottle wipe to clean the pieces inside and out. After cleaning the pump pieces, you must dry them.
You do not want additional moisture inside your pump pieces, so take your time and dry everything thoroughly with a paper towel.
Washing Pump Pieces on the Go
Car Power Inverter
- Premium 150w car power inverter with 2 USB ports and 1 AC outlets. Dual USB ports can charge most phones and tablets simultaneously (Max 3.1A total output),...
- Travel kit: just about credit card size - 3.2 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches, space-saving and easy storage, with aluminum shell design, extremely portable and lightweight...
- Mufti-Protection: built-in fuse to protect your device, stable charging design provides protection against, overheating, under and over voltage charging, short...
Having a car power inverter is a lifesaver during road trips or if you need a quick pump session while out with or without your little one.
Since I had the Spectra S2, I needed a power outlet, and this fit the bill. I was able to pump in the car while running errands or charge my Spectra S9 breast pump.
This was the one thing I never knew I needed. Now that our son is three years old and no longer drinking breast milk, I still use this adapter to charge my laptop to work remotely. It’s the perfect accessory for pumping moms and digital nomads.
Last update on 2022-07-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API