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Thread: Flying with Milk

  1. #1

    Default Flying with Milk

    So someone asked me for advice on flying with milk and I wrote them a nice long reply and its too long to PM. As this isn't the first person to ask me, I thought it might be a good idea to just post it here for everyone to see. I hope this helps everyone out!

    Keep in mind that if you are BFing your LO exclusively, you could pump 30 oz easily in a day. 4 days would be 2 gallons of milk. Just keep in mind volume when you are planning cooler, size etc.

    1. Make sure that you have called your hotel and your room has a refrigerator in the room. That’s an absolute must. A microwave for cleaning is also very handy
    2. Things you'll need to pack:

    ziploc bags
    a large lunch sized cooler and a smaller lunch cooler
    all of your pump parts
    your pump
    extra bottles -
    lots of bags (assuming you’re going to bring you milk bag in bags, bottles might be kinda bulky)
    everything you need to wash you bottles.

    3. On the way there you're going to want to have you pump carried on (you don't want to get there and have it lost). Also, depending on your flight time, you might have to pump on the way. The easiest way I found to do this was to go in the airport bathroom, put the pump on the hook on the back of the door and stand and pump. It's very annoying, but only marginally uncomfortable. I also had to do this when I traveled to a company's office building and they didn't have anywhere else for me to pump. For the most part I've found that women don't comment on the noise, and if they do, they don't know what it is or don't harass you about it.

    4. You will need to bring ice packs but you should check them on the way there. Breastmilk is considered a medication, so you can have an ice pack with you to transport it, but on the way you won’t have any when you go through security, so it’s in the packed bag. Also, you’ll likely get asked about your breast pump when you go through security and they’ll likely swab it for residue.

    5. With your pump you should always have the small lunch kit (or soft cooler, or w/e). This is going to be where you’ll put your milk until you can get it “home” to the big lunch kit in the hotel. Keep Ziploc bags with it. If you have to pump (airport, office you’re visiting, wherever), put the milk in the lunch kit and fill a Ziploc with ice to keep it cold if you can’t have your ice pack – like in the airport.

    6. When you get to the hotel, I set up a pumping area. Extra towels over a sofa or chair or whatever to minimize germs. I left everything set up and didn’t let housecleaning into my room to mess it up. I washed my pump parts at the end of the day in the sink with soap I brought and microwave sterilized them.

    7. You’ll be accumulating lots of milk in the fridge. For me, I chose not to freeze it on one trip because I was worried that it would thaw on the way home and that didn’t make me comfortable. You’ll have to decide what you’ll do based on your circumstances. One of my trips I did freeze it and security was a bit easier because it wasn’t a liquid anymore. Regardless, with that much milk, you’ll have a hard time freezing it unless you can get the whole fridge that cold. The freezer only section might not be big enough. Also, it’s a good idea to keep your big cooler in the fridge for the trip home. A cold cooler keeps things cold longer than a room temp cooler.

    8. On the day that you leave, pack your big cooler and your pump as carry ons. My pump fit in a roller bag and my purse anything else I needed for the flight went in there. Fill your cooler the milk and your ice packs and fill any crack with ice in Ziplocs. The Ziplocs are your back up in case your ice packs get warm, etc. If you leave the hotel, go somewhere for a few hours and then head to the airport, change the ice when you can. When you get the airport you may have to dump the ice out for security. The rules say you do, but I forgot and they didn’t give me any problems. Be warned, your cooler will be heavy! And don’t open it unless you have to!

    9. For security you need to disclose that you are carrying breastmilk. You will have to put it through the x-ray belt. If its frozen that’ll probably be the end of it (except the pump swabbing). If its thawed then they will likely want to swab the cooler and maybe a couple bags. They are not allowed to open a bag or make you taste it.

    10. once you are through security, it’s just a matter of keeping everything cold until you get home. And when you get home, you can hug the baby and then unpack. It can wait 5 minutes

    One thing I kept in my pump bag was a copy of the TSA rules that said I was allowed to have breastmilk. They are found here. http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...n/formula.shtm

    Also, techincally you could have a hard cooler for the way back, get ice, and check your milk, but I was way too chicken to do that. And you have to buy a cooler or check one on the way there, which is expenses these days.
    Hi, I'm Seph!
    DD born - 5/12/09 5lbs 15oz, and now she's 27 lbs! weaned with love at 19 months.
    DS born - 10/12/11 8 lbs 1 oz, over 19 pounds now at 8.5 months and still nursing like a champ!
    I survived 3 solid months of a 10 food elimination diet and 22 months of a limited diet between my 2 children. I don't even remember what a peanut is.
    for 21 months!
    6 time conqueror of mastitis! (2 times without abx!)
    Have milk, will fly!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Re: Flying with Milk

    Thanks so much for the info. I will be trying it out in a few short weeks. It's good to know that TSA changed their rules, I was really worried that I would have to check it. I'll be travelling to the south and the thought of my precious cargo in checked luggage for the trip home made me cringe.
    DS 3/1/10, DD 6/26/11, DS 10/5/13
    Working & pumping mom with 3 kiddos three and under

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Default Re: Flying with Milk

    Thank you so much for your advice on this! I PMd you a couple months back when I went on a trip, and you helped set my mind at ease. It ended up being a pretty benign experience, but it helped to be prepared.

    Could this be stickied? I feel as though it's a topic that comes up frequently.
    Little SW, Aug '09
    Miss MW, Jan '11
    Sir RW, Oct '12
    3 kids in 38 mos

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010

    Default Re: Flying with Milk

    thank you for taking the time to share that! Very helpful!
    SAHM to all my boys

    Wyatt 2/23/99
    Isaiah 7/11/00
    Hunter 2/9/10- made it through our dairy allergy!
    and loving from afar, my DSS Kaleb 3/30/97

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Denver, Co.

    Default Re: Flying with Milk

    I was wondering about this! Thank you!!

    Baby Girl Born 2/17/10 to her two mommies
    BF from day one. I looked up one day and realized I'm nursing a toddler!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    New York

    Default Re: Flying with Milk

    Thank you so much for the info! Have you ever gone on vaca with your LO? I am considering going... but the thought has ran across my mind: should I bring my pump with me just in case? I never leave home without my pump!

    I know I don't have to, but since I do have a little over supply, I pump on the weekend a few ounces (usually 4 or 5 oz) in the morning per day... which is why I'm donating.
    First baby Thanos Liam born on 12/20/2009... we are and since birth and still going strong!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Re: Flying with Milk

    You actually don't have to let them xray your milk if you object to the radiation. But then they can visually inspect it (but not completely open it). There are also different rules for what nursing mothers can carry on, i.e. water limits, ice, etc. When I flew I emailed the TSA and printed out their response and kept it with me in my pump bag (that was carried on) made for less questions at the airport.

    ETA: the copy of the email is here if anyone wants to read it.
    Last edited by @llli*nolies.mama; June 5th, 2010 at 08:23 PM.
    I'm Hillary
    Wife to Gualberto
    Mom to Nolan
    Born at 32 weeks-3lbs/10oz
    Our precious early angel

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010

    Default Re: Flying with Milk

    What do you ladies think about packing my pump in my luggage and checking it? I am going on a short flight with my LO but need my pump at the destination. I will bring my milk on board with me though.
    exclusively ,We and and eager to learn more!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Default Re: Flying with Milk

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*bigbadbaba View Post
    What do you ladies think about packing my pump in my luggage and checking it? I am going on a short flight with my LO but need my pump at the destination. I will bring my milk on board with me though.
    i checked my pump both ways and carried on the milk on my return flight. i was a bit nervous, because 'what if my luggage got lost??' but bit the bullet. it was fine. i did carry a hand pump on with me just in case.
    FTM to Cypress Levon born all natural 10/5/09

    and while I work

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