5 essentials for surviving a business trip while pumping
If you’ve worked in a job that involves traveling while you have a newborn at home that you are breastfeeding, you inevitably collect a list of crazy places you’ve pumped. I found that the longer I had been doing it, the bolder I got - or the less I cared maybe? A part of your body that was once very personal becomes very practical very quickly out of necessity. My list includes the backseat of rental cars while my male co-workers were inside getting lunch, airport bathrooms, my seat on an airplane (sorry guy in 5C), bar bathrooms, conference center bathrooms, hotel rooms, client bathroom stalls, really a lot of uncomfortable bathrooms situations.
I also asked a lot of bartenders for ice for my cooler - at every restaurant we stopped at, in the airport lounge, you name it. Sometimes they’d even sneak my cooler into their ice box or fridge for an hour or two while I was there.
I was so stressed out that I’d lose the milk I’d worked so hard for and arranged my whole schedule around and then my kid would be hungry. Especially before I found the right gear to really keep everything cold and realized that breastmilk really is more resilient than it’s often given credit for.
I wasted a lot of time and money trying things that didn’t work. I hope I can save you both!
Here’s my amazon list for what you’ll really need, alongside of course a sense of humor:
A swell bottle is a total hack for storing breastmilk - it keeps it cold for 24 hours, which means if you are traveling and staying in hotels, you can pump, chill your milk in a hotel or client fridge and then keep it cold as you move from place to place or on the flight home. It reduces the need for bulky cooler bags (which don’t work particularly well anyway). Just make sure to label them ;)
Ice packs are helpful for when you are pumping on the go and can’t put your pumped milk right in the fridge. I have a whole post on ice packs if you are looking to for a good one.
A cooler bag is a must-have, but if you have your swell bottles and your ice packs, you don’t need an industrial, big or expensive one. I picked this one just because it’s pretty and to show you that you don’t need to carry around that ugly black medela bag that everyone has. For less than $20 you can buy something that doesn’t scream “this is full of breastmilk” and carry your bottles with dignity! If you are looking for a heavier duty one or just still figuring out your system, I have a review of my top 5 picks for coolers for storing breastmilk too.
Finally, it’s sometimes hard to clean up when you are traveling. These wipes are lifesavers for cleaning up pump parts in between pumping sessions during the day - then you can do your deep clean at night when you get back to the hotel or home.
A big scarf is also an essential. Yes, you can buy a “nursing scarf” but it’s really just the same thing as a normal oversized scarf, so you’re probably better off getting something that looks like it was designed for you, not for your baby. You may already have one of these in your closet, but I found some really pretty ones on Amazon just by searching “oversized scarf” - including this one!