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This is a blog post I never expected I’d be writing! But when I was trying to figure out if it would be possible for me to travel and pump while leaving our 5 month old baby (who is still nursing) at home with her papa and big sister, there weren’t as many “personal experience” kinds of articles out there. So I wanted to help with that.
*DISCLAIMER* I am not an expert when it comes to nursing, pumping or lactation.
I’ve also only done this once internationally, but I want to share my experience and encourage
those who might be anxious about traveling while their nursing baby stays home.
Planning to make this trip happen started before Isabella was even born. I’d emailed Katherine and Abby (the beauties behind The Signature Atelier) when I first started seeing mention of the workshop, back in late December. Would it make sense to take the baby and a friend/nanny with me? Should I just try and stockpile as much milk as I can and pray it’s enough for me to be gone for a week? After hearing back from Katherine and Abby and finding out more of what the week would look like for those of us attending, it didn’t make sense for me to bring Isa along. We would be in a home that was just big enough for the attendees as well as Katherine and Abby and the week would be full of classes and shoots and wandering the city. So while I know some friends who have taken their nursing babies abroad with them, this particular week wouldn’t have left much time for me to see Isa, much less actually nurse her!
So, after their encouragement and suggestions, I registered for the Signature Atelier and began praying that God would increase my milk supply so that I could easily leave enough at home! And He graciously answered that prayer (which was another reassurance that I was supposed to go)! Although I was pumping sometimes an extra two times a day to increase my milk stash in the freezer.
This was also when I started researching what it would be like to pump while traveling, while in France, and then coming back home. And what it would look like to bring milk home with me or if I should just pump and dump the milk (it’s still tough to even type that… because breast milk = liquid gold).
The basics I found out before Isa was even born were…
I decided early on that pumping and dumping until I was past airport security in Paris and on my way home to the states would be the easiest solution overall. And the earlier I accepted that, the easier it would be mentally to pump and dump while I was gone. I even talked to my doctor about it because I didn’t know how my supply would react or how often I should be pumping. She reassured me that it would be fine! She had gone on a trip when one of her babies was about 5-6 months old and she was pumping about every 5-6 hours and her supply was fine when she returned home.
But as a precaution, I purchased some More Milk Plus (it contains fenugreek which helps with milk supply) to start taking towards the end of the week if it felt like my supply was decreasing. I ended up not taking any until after I got home but still only took it for a few days before Isa was always happy after eating :-)
The thing I was most anxious about was WHERE I would end up pumping while we were out and about in the city because Paris isn’t really known for it’s luxurious and spacious public restrooms. And the last thing I wanted to do was to sit at a café and pump under a nursing cover. So for that side of things, I had to let it go and just have faith that it would work out when I got there. And for a planner like me, it was tough. But again, I knew I was supposed to be there so I knew it would work out!
So here’s what it all looked like.
What I took with me:
Travel TO Paris:
While in Paris:
My experience on the flight home wasn’t nearly as easy as the flight over. I let one of the female flight attendants know that I’d be in the restroom for 15-20 minutes pumping and even told a couple of the passengers waiting in line with me (because I kept letting people go in front of me!) and everyone was SO understanding. Except for the one guy who was waiting in line after everyone else had left… he kept banging on the door even though I kept saying I needed a few more minutes, he continued to bang on the door. Friends, please don’t ever do this on a plane. Those restrooms are SO tiny that clearly if someone is in there for longer than a few minutes, they NEED to be in there! So as soon as I finished pumping and got myself put back together, I cracked open the door and in tears told him I was a nursing mom and was needing to pump. With a smile on his face, he said, “Oh, ok!” with no apology or anything. So I closed the door again, collected myself, the milk and my pump, dried my tears and went back to my seat. When I went to the back of the plane to get some ice for the milk, the girl that had been outside of the restroom with the guy banging on the door apologized for how he had acted. It was so sweet of her, but I told her he hadn’t known what I was doing in there and he probably really had to go too (although with the other restrooms on the plane, you’d think he would have just gone to another one!). Thankfully I didn’t see that man again :-)
Again, I’ve only done this once, but there were so many unknowns before I left that I wanted to put it all in writing in hopes that it might help someone else in the future! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can :-)