Does breastfeeding make travel easier? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 05-19-2013, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My feeling is that it probably does because you don't have to worry about mixing formula, finding water, and that kind of thing, but I haven't tried both ways.

What are your experiences with breastfeeding while on a trip? Is there anything moms need to think about when taking a trip while breastfeeding that might not seem obvious? Are there any potential problems? Is breastfeeding while traveling as easy as at home, or more difficult than at home?

Is traveling with a breastfeeding infant more or less difficult than traveling with a breastfeeding toddler?
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#2 of 21 Old 05-19-2013, 03:04 PM
 
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depends on what kind of travel... car, plane, train, etc. With a nursing infant, you have to stop frequently to nurse.  my toddler only nurses a few times a day, so a 6 hour driving trip doesn't really cause any problems, but for my 3 month old that nurses at least every 2 hours, it was a problem.  I had to stop often to nurse.  When DD1 was little, I had to nurse her in her carseat, with me crouching next to the seat.  It was illegal and dangerous, but we were in traffic and had no way of getting off to nurse.  I wish i would have had pumped milk for that situation.  As far as the actual 'vacation' part of a trip, I don't see anything different other than the stimulation factor, does your baby/ toddler get interested in watching other people, etc.  I never have a problem at all though.  


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#3 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 01:16 PM
 
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I traveled by both car and plane a couple months ago when my LO was 3.5 months.

 

Flying: BFing was awesome when we were ascending and descending on the flight. She ate, ate, ate, passed out every time. It was really nice when we were diverted, flight was canceled, I stayed the night in another city (had friends there, luckily), and ended up driving three hours to get to my destination. I had no worries about having enough milk. Diapers...well, that was a much closer call. Be sure to have diapers for emergencies. :)

Driving: I BF'd every couple hours. The surprise drive noted above was a solo drive, but we managed by stopping at dining/gas stops and feeding there. I did have an emergency bottle and unprepared formula in case something really went wrong, but I didn't use it. During that trip my family and I drove four hours each way to see a grandmother, and I again just stopped to BF. I would be a bit nervous without at least having a backup though. As the previous poster mentioned, stuck in traffic and not bottle is no fun.

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#4 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 03:15 PM
 
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We just finished an extended weekend traveling with two BF infants. We do a lot of outdoorsy activities. I can't imagine how hard it would be for us to keep things sanitary for formula feeding. My babes wont sit in a dirty diaper so we have to stop every couple hours for changes anyway when in the car. But they are both very efficient feeders. 10-15 min and done. As far as things to take with, breast pads and lots of 'em. My biggest challenge is finding clothes that are both sport and BFing friendly. 

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#5 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 03:38 PM
 
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Cars are not so great, but we've gotten around it with bottles of pumped BM (you can bring a hand pump and pump right into a bottle that then goes right into baby's mouth) and, now that she's older, sippy cups.  I highly recommend the Medela Harmony pump.  It's small and if you just bring two bottles and a nipple, you're all set for emergencies when you might be stuck in traffic (assuming you're not driving solo).  I have small breasts, so the hanging over the carseat to nurse thing is not an option.  Pumped BM is great though.

 

We'll be flying for the first time next month, so I haven't done that yet.  I did an overnight Amtrak trip alone when my daughter was 2 months old and if I hadn't been BFing I would have lost my mind.  She was so relaxed and any time she got upset or confused, I just popped her on the boob.  It was great.  No problems there at all, other than falling asleep on the overnight with my breast partially exposed after she unlatched.  I'm glad I wear big pashmina scarves.... otherwise I might have ended up on some internet site somewhere.  

 

We also do a lot of outdoorsy stuff, including camping at a cabin with an ancient propane stove where the water comes directly from the lake, so I can't imagine messing around with boiling water and sterilizing stuff.  Not to mention packing formula and bottles.  It sounds like a serious hassle. 


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#6 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 07:06 PM
 
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The Christmas DS was 5 months old we drove 9ish hours to FL to see my grandmother.  We stopped every couple hours for mommy potty, baby diaper, and boob time.  He nursed great in the backseat of the car or in restaurants, etc.  We do use a paci, so when stuck in traffic I'd distract him with that or play peek-a-boo.  At that age he pretty much slept in the car the whole time anyway.

 

That summer, when he was 9-10 months old, we flew to CO (3.5-4 hour flight, plus airport time).  He was too stimulated and busy looking around to nurse at the airport, though I could tell he was hungry.  He did nurse on take-off, the passed out for most of the flight and nursed again when he woke up.  We then waited in the airport for almost 4 more hours due to a transportation SNAFU.  He was eating (BLW) and drinking water by then so he snacked on those some and nursed sitting in the floor/behind luggage some.  That was followed by ANOTHER 3-4 hours in the car, he nursed on potty stops a couple times.  Again, slept mostly while the car was moving, I rode in the back seat to entertain/comfort him if stopping wasn't possible.

 

We finished off that trip with a multi-day drive from Western NE to GA.  I rode in the back to comfort DS if he got upset and had a ready supply of toys, blankets, water sippies, etc.  We planned our trip to drive 8-10 hour days with stops every two hours for bathroom, snacks and nursing.  We also repeated the drive to FL on the tail end of that trip when DS was almost 1.  By the end of that summer he was nursing about 10-15 times a day depending.  He did drop back on travel days and then made up for it on "rest" days. 

 

I did pump on all of those trips but more to keep up supply for work/my comfort.  We didn't even have bottle nipples and just carried the milk in a cooler (couldn't have reached it in traffic--likely wouldn't have occurred to me).  He is a ver efficient nurser and even by the 5 month old trip was nursing 15-20 minutes at a time.  By the summer trip he was nursing many times a day for 5-10 minutes.

 

This summer (at 22 months) we'll be repeating the fly to CO, drive to NE, drive back to GA trip.  By now he's nursing for 3-5 minutes 3-6 times a day, so he likely won't nurse during the day while we're driving unless he feels scared or otherwise needs comfort.  Again, I'll have a sippy available with water to keep him hydrated and we'll still stop often to let him run around, but now more to get the wiggles out than to nurse.  I've stopped pumping at work now, so I won't mess with my pump at all this trip.

 

I have always in the past ridden in the back seat so that on the rare occasion when we are stuck in traffic he isn't crying alone when he has to wait, but honestly we've never needed to have him wait for more than 10-15 minutes while we find an exit--even in traffic, in major cities, at rush hour.

 

Short version:  Plan the time to stop as needed and nurse--use it to stretch and go potty yourself too.  Riding in the back with baby helps keep him/her calm in traffic.  If they are old enough, keeping a sippy available with water can also help.  I found a light weight soft muslin blanket (Aiden & Anais cotton/bamboo blend) was wonderful to help keep him from getting distracted.  Also our ring sling to help him get comfy/positioned no matter where we were.

 

I do caution against leaving baby with a sippy 100% of the time in the car.  There are reports of babies being seriously injured by a soft spout sippy in an accident.  Personally, letting him have a supervised sip of water while driving is a risk I'll take, but letting him carry it the whole trip is not.  Do your research and make your own decision on that one.

 

Happy travels!

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#7 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 10:58 PM
 
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I traveled with both nursing babies and toddlers, one that would take a cup of pumped milk, and one that refused.  I found the straight nursing WAY easier, esp. flying, like the other mamas said.  Car trips when they were younger I would just crawl in back next to their car seats, lean over, and let them nurse that way.  I sometimes got a funny look or two from another driver if they figured out what I was doing, but it was well worth having a happy baby/toddler. 

One thing that really helped me was having a good carrier/sling, depending on their ages, that i could just nurse them in without having to try to hang onto a cover/blanket all the time, that can drop and get dirty and unusable. I had a home made moby and my trusty ergo. 

The one thing is because of all the issue traveling, they nursed more while away, esp. my younger dd, so the adjustment to home was sometimes a bit hard on me, having extra nursing time, esp. when trying to catch up from being away.  We always do demand feeding, so I just let them scale their nursing back to normal as opposed to cutting them off, so it means more time doing that, but it's a fun excuse for not having all the laundry done the first day back!

 

Good luck and safe travels for you and your little one!
 


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#8 of 21 Old 05-21-2013, 05:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was thinking of airplanes, not car trips. I don't know why I didn't think of cars when I wrote this. I think we just stopped a lot when our kids were that age. It takes longer to get there when you go by car and you're breastfeeding. But you don't have to worry about washing out bottles.
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#9 of 21 Old 05-21-2013, 06:19 PM
 
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We drove to SC from CT, so 17 hours (and drove back 5 days later), when DD was 10mos.  We're planning to do it again this year but looking into flying since I think she will be more receptive to flying (she's 18mos now, would be almost 2 when we go again).  Being away from home was not an issue breastfeeding, and while I brought my pump, I never used it.  We walked all around and I was able to nurse in the park, various restaurants, the beach...all without a hassle.  Luckily the car lulled her to sleep on the drive so we didn't need to stop as often as I expected to.  I think it would have been way to much to have had to pump or fix formula.

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#10 of 21 Old 05-22-2013, 01:16 PM
 
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Car travel is a little time-consuming with a breastfeeding infant, especially if you have other children that have to sit in the back, leaving little room for you to sit next to the baby to give a bottle of pumped milk or nurse while the baby is in the carseat - although, I for one could never figure out how that worked.  So you end up stopping every couple of hours for 15-30 minutes.  Can make a long day in the care.

 

But flying by plane, I believe it's much easier, as long as you're comfortable nursing right next to a stranger, if that's how the seats end up.  And just like at home, once you're at your destination.
 

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#11 of 21 Old 05-22-2013, 02:10 PM
 
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I cannot imagine lugging around water, bottles, formula, etc. With breastfeeding we can just pick up and go anywhere, anytime. Stopping the car is a minor inconvenience and actually now that my nursling is 18 months we wouldn't even have to do that since I can easily give him a cracker or a carrot when he is in the car seat to much on and keep him happy. 

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#12 of 21 Old 05-22-2013, 04:17 PM
 
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I don't really enjoy travel, and the one big trip we take a year is with my ILs.  It was LOVELY to have a great reason to slip away.  I don't nurse in front of them.  I don't care what they think of extended BFing, but I am modest.  And I really need my privacy sometimes.


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#13 of 21 Old 05-22-2013, 04:41 PM
 
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I found traveling to be quite easy with a breastfeeding baby. We did many plane, train, and car trips the first few years of my daughter's life. It was incredibly convenient; the only thing I needed to feed my baby was me. Breastfeedinging on the plane helped equalize her ears and kept her from being too bored. I never needed to worry about washing and sterilizing bottles at hotels, airports, and on trains.
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#14 of 21 Old 05-22-2013, 05:17 PM
 
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I find that breastfeeding and trave/being away from homel go well together because eating and sleep times are invariably thrown off.  Being able to nurse while waiting for lunch or dinner to happen, or when your child is trying to nap and you're not in the best location ... all very helpful.  I'll add that nursing in a carrier is additionally fantastic for flexibility and mobility while traveling.

 

However, attitudes about nursing and my own comfortabliity with nursing in public does change in different cities, regions, countries, contexts, etc.  Just something to be prepared for and aware of, although it, of course, doesn't need to change what you do.
 

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#15 of 21 Old 05-23-2013, 03:06 PM
 
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Breast-feeding is absolutely easier! My family and I just returned from a two-week trip to Germany; we have a 4-year-old and a 10-month-old. As other mothers here have commented, BFing helps equalize a baby's ears during cabin pressure changes. And what a relief to not have to pack formula and bottles, much less wash them, etc. For travel within Germany, we took trains, and this was great because both girls could move around and play with other kids, and I could nurse the baby whenever she wanted. The whole two weeks, I breastfed wherever I was, and had no problem whatsoever. No one stared or appeared uncomfortable; on the contrary, people there obviously see BFing as completely natural. Before our trip, I had read somewhere that no one in Germany uses a coverup to BF, so I left mine at home.


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#16 of 21 Old 05-28-2013, 07:08 PM
 
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We  formula fed our first 2 babies and with #3 I am nursing.  We ended up getting stranded this winter at a friends house and it was nice not having to worry about formula and bottles.  It was an easy decision to stay bc i could feed our LO with mommy milk!

 

At first I was worried about traveling and breastfeeding but now I don't even think about it, it just comes naturally!!


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#17 of 21 Old 05-30-2013, 10:57 PM
 
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I was really disappointed when my little guy weaned because flying and breastfeeding is so much easier than a fussy toddler refusing the food you have at hand!!  Here are a few of my random flying tips:

 

If your going to breastfeed a toddler when flying and they are over 2 yo and need their own seat I would make sure to ask a flight attendant for a seatbelt so they can sit on your lap even if you're ascending/descending.

 

You get really dehydrated by plane travel so make sure you're drinking enough water to make the breast milk!

 

Know your rights to public breastfeeding so that if a fuss is made for some reason you can calmly express that you are legally allowed to feed


Check out my website www.breastfeeding-babies.com for extra information.

Enjoy your breastfeeding and mothering journey!

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#18 of 21 Old 06-02-2013, 06:21 AM
 
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Breastfeeding was great when we drove 9 hours up to her grandparents' house at 18 months old. We did the drive in the evening/night so we left about 5-6 pm and got in during the wee small hours of the morning. After we had been on the road for 2 hours or so, we got her out, nursed her, and put her in her PJs and she slept from then on. At each pit stop I would nurse her for a few minutes then put her back down. I don't think it would have been as easy if she was weaned.

 

We did a car/plane trip at 12 months and a plane trip at 6 months and everything went smoothly there too. 

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#19 of 21 Old 06-02-2013, 08:25 AM
 
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Another vote for BF and flying being much easier.  DD had JUST weaned before she and I took a plane trip to visit my mom.  The trip included a layover, and she had eaten every bit of formula I'd brought with me and was still hungry and fussy.  Juggling bottles and a lap baby (oh yeah, never again, even at 8 months) was just too much.  I ended up giving her a boob just to settle her down though I don't think she got much out of it.  I do remember wishing there was still milk in there for her.  And my seatmate didn't mind one bit. 
 

 

Driving trips were a bit more difficult, but I just had to remember to stop more often.  It was just me and her either way though, so giving her a bottle wouldn't have been much easier.


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#20 of 21 Old 06-06-2013, 12:10 PM
 
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I breastfed my oldest for about 22 months ending in 2007. That was a while ago, but I am still passionate about breastfeeding so I will try to remember.

 

Besides food and water for the mother, the mother would need a blanket and comfortable clothes that make it easy to breastfeed: a button-down dress, or button-down dress and skirt, or shirt and skirt with blanket, or something modest that is made for breastfeeding. And of course some changes of clothes and plenty of diapers and wipes.

 

I breastfed her in a sling while walking.

 

Yes, it definitely makes travel easier than with formula feeding. Unfortunately I've done both. With the formula and bottles you need clean water to mix with the formula (unless you have expensive formula that's already liquid), then dish soap and a bottle brush when the baby is done. With nursing you just have to take care of your breasts and eat and drink enough.

 

If I could pick between one or the other with a next baby, I would definitely choose breastfeeding.


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#21 of 21 Old 06-06-2013, 07:12 PM
 
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I just wanted to note, I was on a plane with my daughter last year and the baby across the aisle was getting formula. They had little formula packets like those packets of individual-serving-size Crystal Light that you dump in your water bottle! So if you have some of those, and you can get bottled water pretty much anywhere, that does simplify the travel formula prep. (obviously you need a baby bottle as well.) 

 

Not that I would choose formula over breastfeeding for travel based on this, but it does seem like feeding formula on the go is getting easier! I thought those packets looked pretty great. 

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