Something we have had to deal with time and again is transporting breast milk either in a checked bag or carry on. Both of our kids were/are breastfed. There were times that we knew we would need a stash of milk upon arrival (for a babysitter), but there wouldn't be time to store up enough before we needed it. I have put together several resources and travel tips for breastfeeding mothers who need or want to travel without worrying about their baby receiving breastmilk or a having a drop in their milk supply. Traveling with breastmilk does not have to be complicated! This article will highlight how to travel with frozen breast milk by car, how to bring frozen breast milk on a plane, packing breast milk in checked luggage, & how to ship breastmilk.
Breastfeeding moms have been shipping breastmilk for a long time. It isn't new, but there also isn't a ton of information out there. Here are some convenient ways to ship your breastmilk if you are going to be separated from your baby due to travel or if you want a stockpile waiting for you upon arrival.
FedEx: They have an actual Mommy program. They offer refrigerated containers that can be pre-ordered and delivered to you to fill up with your milk bags, then drop them off at a FedEx location for overnight delivery. Get all the details HERE.
Milk Stork: This company is dedicated to shipping breast milk. They send you containers to fill up and ship. They do all the hard work, you just pre-arrange delivery of empty boxes and drop them off full to be overnight shipped. Get all the details HERE.
For Military Moms or Long-Term separations check out this AMAZING post by Breastfeeding in Combat Boots. It explains how to properly package your milk and discusses international regulations. See it HERE.
Flying with Breastmilk - Carry-On:
The TSA (within the United States) allows "a reasonable amount" of breastmilk to be carried through whether a mother is with her child or not. I personally flew with about 60 ounces of frozen milk in my carry on WITHOUT my baby from Nashville to Florida and the TSA agent never questioned it. You can see the exact rules outlined HERE. TSA officers may not all be well read on the rules surrounding breastmilk, so you need to be the expert. It’s worth noting that your breast pump is considered a medical device, therefore you are allowed to carry it onto the plane. When you fly with breastmilk, the TSA officer may ask to screen your milk. If you decline for them to open it, it may be cause for additional screening procedures. It is your choice. I once declined for the agent to open all of my baby food pouches for the screening prodedure and instead opted for the full pat down. TSA’s exact verbiage is this “Inform the TSA officer if you do not want the formula, breast milk and/or juice to be X-rayed or opened. Additional steps will be taken to clear the liquid and you or the traveling guardian will undergo additional screening procedures, to include a pat-down and screening of other carry-on property.”
Other countries are not as lenient. We saw in 2016 when a woman was made to dump 500 ounces of breastmilk at the Heathrow airport because her baby was not with her. She had over 100ml (3 ounces) of milk in her carry on. The regulations in the European Union are strict about not having more than 3 ounces of breastmilk in a CLEAR breastmilk storage container if you do not have your baby with you. Knowing the international rules is imperative. Had she known, this breastfeeding mom could have frozen, prepacked in ice, and checked all of her hard earned milk.
Flying with Breastmilk - Checked:
I have packed frozen milk into a small cooler with ice packs then packed the cooler in my luggage and checked it. The flights were domestic and the milk was still fully frozen upon arrival. I was able to then put them in the freezer and have them for babysitters. This is much less risky than carrying large amounts of milk as a carry-on. If you package your milk appropriately, it will last the duration of your travel and be ready for baby upon arrival. If you will be traveling for longer than 24-36 hours, I recommend checking out these breastmilk packing tips HERE. For shorter travel days (8-10 hours), I have had no problem packing my milk with ice packs in small cooler bag. There is no limit to the amount of milk checked through.
Road trip with breast milk:
In my opinion: this is the easiest way to travel with large amounts of breast milk. I recommend one of two ways to transport frozen breast milk in a car:
Buy a small travel fridge that you can plug into your car. Store milk in this controlled environment.
Bring a large cooler and pack it down with ice or dry ice. You can continually refresh the ice as needed, which will keep the milk frozen solid.
If you're spending the night in a hotel on your road trip, bring the milk inside with you and if you can, put it in the freezer of the hotel.
You can find a convenient packing list for pumping on the go HERE.
You can find more information about traveling with breastmilk and recommendations to mothers on the CDC's webpage HERE.
You can find the proper temperatures and suggested guidelines about freezing/storing breastmilk HERE.
Find breastfeeding support at these locations:
With all things travel, don't be afraid of traveling while breastfeeding!! We have traveled to 10 countries while nursing. I found breastfeeding to be convenient on travels since we didn't have to carry snacks/babyfood.
**I would like to add that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH FORMULA!!! A fed baby is the best baby! We fully support either way!**
Check out our previous guest blog on how Europe changed my breastfeeding experience!
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