KatieOlthoff.com participates in affiliate marketing and other forms of advertising. We only recommend products and services we believe in and think they will be of use to you. As such, posts on this website may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my disclosure policy. Thank you for your support of this website and our family.

How to Fly with Breastmilk (but without baby)

When I went to Charleston in February, I had to take my pump with me.  I was really nervous about it, but really had no problems.  I wanted to share my experience and tips, though, in case any of you are going to be away from your breastfeeding baby for a few days. (And I’m going to sprinkle this post with adorable pictures of my sweet baby Isaac, just because.)
First of all, I have to say that Delta gave me no trouble with my pump or milk.  On the trip there, I packed the pump in my carryon suitcase, along with my camera and laptop.  Our second flight, from Atlanta to Charleston, was not very full.  Since I was seated by myself towards the back, I actually *gasp* pumped in the air. I asked the flight attendant first, and then just put on my nursing cover-up and took care of business.
When we arrived at the hotel (the beautiful Francis Marion) I requested a fridge in my room and they were very accommodating.
While in Charleston, I had to miss some of our sessions and rush out of lunch in order to pump in my room.  But all I had to do was mention “mastitis” to that group of farm women and they knew what was going on!!!
The return trip was a bit trickier, but still not a big deal.  I packed my cold (but not frozen) milk in the two small, soft-sided coolers I brought with me.  I chose to bring 2 smaller coolers instead of one large one because I knew they’d be easier to fit in my bag to bring home.img_5597
When we went through security, I told them I had the breast milk, and I think they took a sample and swabbed it for explosives or something. I was distracted trying to repack everything in my carry-ons, so I didn’t see what they were doing.
After we were through security, I filled my ziplocs with ice from a fountain pop machine.  The ice-filled baggies went in the coolers with the milk.  I did NOT freeze the milk before leaving because I didn’t want to risk that it would thaw a bit and go rotten.
I could not fit the milk and pump in my carry-on bag, so I actually brought the carryon suitcase, my Vera Bradley diaper bag AND the pump on.  No one said anything about the “extra” bag.  I’ve heard that you can carry the pump on as a “medical device” and that’s the argument I would have used had I been asked.
I held the milk on my lap whenever possible because I had read that the floor of an airplane can get rather hot.  But when I got home, the milk was still plenty cold, and I had 4 days worth of breast milk to put in my freezer. 
Isaac was 10 months old at the time, and was nursing MANY times a day (8 or more in a 24 hour period.) But he only nursed on one side at a time. So I pumped both sides 3 or 4 times a day and had no problems with my supply dropping or engorgement. He drank formula while I was gone (he’d had it several times before) but now we have a nice freezer stash.
Don’t worry.  My mom watched the boys for me while I was gone.  I didn’t leave them home with this weirdo, who insists on making ridiculous faces for every picture I take.  :)

Packing List for Traveling and Pumping
  • Pump, pump parts and bottles (I also carry extra batteries and membranes with my pump.)
  • Milk storage bags
  • Norwex envirocloth travel pack – I used these cloths to clean my pump, bottles, and anything that my pump or bottles were coming in contact with throughout the trip.  The Medela wipes would work well, too.
  • Large ziploc baggies
  • Soft sided cooler (2 small ones – easier to pack in my bag than one large one.)
  • nursing cover-upimg_5620

Questions?  Leave a comment here, on facebook or email me.
Shared at The Stuff of Success

Would you like to comment?

  1. Isn't it wonderful when something you worry about comes off without a hitch? Those pictures are super adorable! He is getting so big!!!

  2. The honest diapers absorb quite well so it's not a big mess when you change them. I'm not going to say its 100% dry but it's close enough and that makes my life a lot easier. The more dry the diaper, the less wiping and irritating I have to do on his little skin! This baby seems to have a tougher skin than our daughter did, too.
    honest diapers

  3. Nice read! There is no doubt that breastfeed is the ideal food for a newborn, but sometimes it can be difficult for you to breastfeed your baby when you are out of your house. Sometimes, stress, illness and previous surgeries can also be a few of the reasons that you may under-produce breast milk. Being a mother of a newborn, I know how difficult it is to breastfeed my baby at public places so I prefer to give formula milk by Feeding for Life. The best think about formula milk is that it is light weighted and easy to digest.