I’m proud to say that I survived being away from my son for three days and three nights. I pushed through and took my own advice about coping with being away from him, especially after a quick FaceTime turned tragic when he saw my face, grabbed the phone, and burst into tears. I had to hang up the phone to keep it all together. Being so far away from my son for the first time was hard, but the hardest part was pumping on the go.
I brought along my handy, dandy Lansinoh manual pump because it’s compact and gets the job done! There was just something about having to set up my hands-free, electric pump that didn’t sound like much fun while on a vacation. Besides, even when I’m at home, I prefer expressing manually. (I have the toned forearms and biceps to prove it!) If you’re planning on traveling and pumping, even if you’re not going to be away from your baby, here are five tips for pumping on the go:
Tips for Pumping on the Go
- Stay on schedule. An ideal pumping schedule—while away from your little one—is one that mirrors his normal feeding routine. Your supply is based on demand. If you decrease how much you’re pumping/feeding, you’re also decreasing how much you produce. Often when traveling, it’s hard to stay on a strict schedule, especially when you’re enjoying yourself! I try to pump at least every three hours to maintain my supply. It helps that my son sleeps through the night so I don’t have to worry about pumping between 9:30 PM and 6:00 AM.
- Keep it clean. When you travel, so do germs. Make sure you’re keeping your hands clean and all pump parts and bottles sanitized.
- Think of your baby. This is the best time to think about your baby. For me, looking at pictures and videos of my son speeds up my letdown and helps me get the most out of a pumping session. If I don’t experience a complete letdown, I find myself engorged sooner than later, which leads me to the next tip.
- Pump through the lumps. If you’re not careful, engorgement can lead to mastitis or clogged milk ducts, which are both harmful to your milk supply and very painful. In order to eliminate some of the lumps while pumping, I’m sure to massage those specific areas to release the milk.
- Stay hydrated. It is estimated that the body burns approximately 20 calories to produce an ounce of breastmilk. If you’re pumping manually like me, that could mean even more calories being burned. Staying hydrated is important when replenishing the body after such hard work.
Pumping Ain’t Easy
Pumping isn’t just about the physical act of expressing milk, there’s a mental component, too. Being out of your comfort zone can affect your supply but don’t stress about it. Don’t get discouraged if you find your supply levels dropping. Continue to pump and stay on track and know that you’ll be back to your regular program in no time. And, if you happen to be away from your baby but need your milk to get back to them before you can, try services like Milk Stork and Milk Expressed.