Traveling While Breastfeeding

mom holding baby on flight

Traveling with a baby can be an adventure on its own. You want to make sure that you have everything you need for every possible situation (and with a baby, the possibilities are endless!) without lugging around half of your household. 

This is an exciting time for you both! You’re about to make memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you're heading to the airport or on a road trip to see the in-laws for the holidays, we’ve got some travel tips and hacks to help you make your travels a bit smoother and much more enjoyable.

TSA Rules and Regulations

Did you know that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has special accommodations for breastfeeding moms? You may have heard of the typical 3-1-1 rule that TSA adheres to regarding liquids, but there are special exceptions for mamas transporting their breast milk and pumping equipment through security. Thankfully! 

Breast milk, formula, pumping equipment, and even some baby and toddler foods and drinks, are all considered medically necessary belongings. You are allowed to travel with as much breast milk (or formula, etc.) as you want, in any size container, and you aren’t required to have your baby with you to travel with it! Just be sure to inform the TSA agent who is handling your screening at the beginning of the security checkpoint that you are carrying these items, and follow their instructions.

They may ask you to remove them from your bag and may perform additional screenings on them—this is normal. Though it isn’t required, TSA does recommend storing your milk or formula in clear containers for easy identification and screening. Once cleared, you’ll be all set to fly!

More Tips for Going Through Airport Security

  1. Make sure that any freezer packs are frozen solid so that slushy ice isn’t subject to further inspection or confiscation. Pro-tip: use foam packs! They are TSA-friendly and tend to stay cooler longer than ice or frozen gel packs.
  2. Your breast pump is a medical device, meaning it does not always count as a carry-on item. Airlines vary on this, so check with your specific airline as you prep for travel. Your cooler does count as a carry-on item if it is packed separately.
  3. The TSA has an entire page dedicated to helping keep parents up-to-date on standards and rules around traveling with children and infants. 

Keep in mind that some TSA agents or gate agents may not remember or be aware of these rules. This doesn’t mean they don’t apply! Many moms have found it helpful to travel with a screenshot of the TSA website or airline’s policy on breast milk–as a friendly reminder to employees who are giving you trouble. 

As always, make sure to check TSA guidance before traveling for the most up-to-date information.


Mamava Nursing Pods

It is 100% mama’s choice how she breastfeeds when on the go. If you are comfortable feeding in public, we support you. If you like a bit more privacy, we support you and the companies that are helping improve pumping and nursing options. 

Before stations and pods were created, it was difficult for moms who prefer pumping or nursing privately to find clean and private spaces in places of transit like airports. Luckily, many airports nationwide now offer public accommodations for comfortable breastfeeding with private, spacious nursing pods from Mamava. These pods provide mamas with a safe space to nurse and spend some quiet time with their babies. Typically, they include a bench, shelf, power outlet, and a lockable door for privacy. 

The bench is spacious enough for mom and baby to relax and have a successful breastfeeding session. Rest your breast pump on the shelf, charge your pump (or your phone!) in the outlet, and enjoy time with your little one. There is also an associated Mamava on-the-go app that lets you know where the closest nursing pod to you is located.

Tips for Traveling With Your Baby While Breastfeeding

You may be nervous about disrupting your routine with your little one, especially once you get into a feeding and sleeping rhythm. This is normal! Traveling can require some adjustments and flexibility, but it is completely possible to manage with the right tips. Here are some of our favorite bits of advice we’ve received from mamas over the years when traveling with their babies while breastfeeding:

  • Pack items that have multiple uses. This will save you loads of space! You or your baby might have a favorite blanket that can double as a tummy-time mat or nursing cover for extra privacy when breastfeeding in public if that is your preference.
  • Keep your baby's daily routine as close to normal as possible. Managing their routine will make everyone's day a little smoother.
  • Take a manual breast pump with you! You never know when you'll have to pump on the go. Manual pumps are designed to be small, quiet, and light, so you can carry them with you everywhere and pump with convenience.
  • Carry a reliable breast pump bag. You'll want to make sure you have a large enough bag to carry all your breastfeeding and pumping accessories. We offer bags by Motif, Bananafish, Willow, and more. These bags are designed to be extremely spacious, with multiple compartments for your accessories to help you keep everything organized!
  • Keep your diaper bag well stocked! And don't forget about yourself either—make sure to include the snacks, water, sunglasses, etc. that you'll need, and, of course, essentials for your little one.
  • Be early! We know this is easier said than done, but planning some extra time into your schedule for your day(s) of travel can be a lifesaver, especially if there are any snags in security at the airport.

Here’s the most important part: enjoy watching your little one's face light up when they get to experience all the new sights and sounds. This is just one of the many memorable moments in their childhood. Soak it all in!


Pumping Travel Must-Haves

Medela Breast Milk Cooler & Battery Pack Travel Set

Pump anywhere, anytime, and know that you’ve got all your essentials at the ready with the Medela Travel Set. This kit includes a portable cooler, a breast pump battery pack and case, four breast milk storage bottles, and an ice pack. Mamas love this kit when they’re traveling because it keeps everything they need in one place. Peace of mind when pumping on the go…who doesn’t want that?!

Spare Power Adapters

No one wants their pump to run out of charge, especially when you’re at the airport, train station, or in-laws! We have spare power adapters for most of the major pumps on the market, including Medela Freestyle Flex, Motif Luna, Motif Aura, Motif Twist, Motif Duo, and Spectra. If you have an electric breast pump, we recommend throwing a spare in your travel bag just in case! For mamas with battery-powered pumps, some extra batteries are also helpful.

Breast Milk Storage Bags

We always recommend these to pumping mamas on the go; it’s always good to have extra breast milk storage! Breast milk storage bags are perfect for travel because when they’re empty, they lie flat and don’t take up too much space in your carry-on or suitcase. We offer breast milk bags from many different brands, including Medela, Lansinoh, Spectra, Evenflo, Philips, Motif, Kiinde, Ameda, and Willow.

Guidance on Newborns During the Holidays

The holidays are a great time for reconnecting with family and friends and often involve traveling around the country (or world!) for celebrations. This may be the first time some of your loved ones are meeting the newest addition to your family—how exciting! While this is a wonderful milestone, there are a few things to keep in mind during this period of increased face-to-face interaction. 

Here is some guidance about how to take care of newborns during the holidays:


Breastfeed, if possible

One of the best ways to prevent your baby from getting sick is to breastfeed. Breast milk has many vital antibodies, white blood cells, lactoferrin, prebiotics, and probiotics for your little one that help build their immune system and protect them from infections. During the holidays, you and your little one are probably coming into contact with more people and places than normal. Exposure to germs will naturally increase around holiday times, luckily breastfeeding helps build your little one’s defenses in a variety of ways

If you are combination feeding, your newborn will still benefit from even a few ounces of your breast milk each day. If exclusive breastfeeding doesn’t work out, we suggest continuing to partially breastfeed for as long as possible. In some cases, this might mean pumping milk and/or directly nursing as little as 1-2 times per day. Small amounts of breast milk, even if they do not seem like much, will help to keep your newborn healthy. 

If you are struggling to meet your lactation goals, reach out to one of our lactation consultants! We are happy to support you on your breastfeeding and pumping journey and help you find a plan that works best for you and your baby.


Avoid large indoor gatherings

If you get a group of people together during the holiday season, chances are that at least one person who is present has a viral illness. There is an incubation period between when someone catches a virus and gets symptoms—remember that even if someone feels okay right now, they may still be able to infect those around them.

Consider wearing a mask to prevent yourself from getting sick, and potentially passing an illness along to your baby. Try to maintain a healthy distance from others, especially those who have recently traveled. If you are a guest in someone’s home, ask for a separate room, if possible, or a space to be able to spend time with your little one, and ensure they are getting adequate rest. Aside from maintaining your physical health, having this privacy can do wonders for your mental health, as well.

If your baby was a preemie, and/or has had any special health care needs since birth, please do your best to keep them home during the holidays. Premature babies are at a much higher risk of infections, especially viral bronchiolitis, than full-term babies.

Limit visitors to your home

It is appropriate to “screen” all of your visitors for possible infection. Anyone who answers “yes” to any of the following screening questions should not come into your home while you have a newborn:

  • Has a current fever or has had a fever during the last 24 hours
  • Currently coughing and/or with other viral symptoms, such as nasal congestion or sore throat
  • Has a known exposure to a viral illness in the past week, such as the flu or COVID-19
  • Has tested positive for any viral illness within the last week

Ask everyone who enters your home to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before touching or holding your baby. Children under 5 are one of the biggest carriers and spreaders of infection, so you should carefully consider contact between your newborn and children in this age group.

You can also ask anyone who comes into your home to wear a properly fitting face mask or reschedule their visit if they might be sick. Use your best judgment and, if applicable, talk with your partner to establish your boundaries and guidelines for visitors after giving birth.


Get immunized

The best way to protect your newborn baby from infection is to breastfeed. To protect yourself and your whole family, consider annual flu shots for all parents, caregivers, siblings, and anyone else living in your home. Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a contagious bacterial infection that can make newborns and infants extremely ill. If you are due for a pertussis booster vaccine and are expecting or currently have a newborn, be sure to get it as soon as possible. Infants are not fully protected from pertussis until they have received the entire 3-vaccine pertussis series, which isn’t complete until around 6 months of age.

Influenza, pertussis, and the flu vaccine are all safe to receive when you are breastfeeding. If you have any questions, contact your healthcare provider for more information.


Be prepared with extra supplies

There is nothing more annoying than realizing you’ve run out of a baby-care essential, especially during the busy holiday season when it seems like everything is sold out! Stocking up on your mama must-haves is a great way to keep the stress low and spirits high during the holiday season and year-round.

Try to keep up with the following items:

  • Extra diapers/nappies, wipes, and feeding supplies so that you are prepared in situations such as airline delays, car trouble, or finding that local stores are closed for the holidays
  • An ample supply of hand sanitizing wipes and wipes to clean off shared surfaces, diaper changing mats, pacifiers, and other baby supplies
  • A small newborn “medical kit,” or first aid kit that contains a baby thermometer, high-quality diaper cream/ointment, infant’s Tylenol, a medication dropper, a nasal suction device (either a bulb syringe or nose Frida), and babies’ nasal saline drops or spray

Note that medical kit items can be very difficult to find in places like airports and stores that are open in the middle of the night, such as gas stations and convenience stores. Prepare ahead and you’ll be relaxed should you need any of these items while on the road! 


Limit your alcohol intake

Alcohol ingested by mom passes into breast milk and can affect babies if the proper precautions aren’t in place. Alcohol is metabolized in about 1 to 3 hours, so to be safe, wait about 2 hours after one drink (or 2 hours for each drink consumed) before you nurse your baby or pump. This time frame should safely allow the alcohol you consumed to be metabolized. It’s recommended to stick to one alcoholic drink per week, at most, when you are breastfeeding. One drink equals 5 oz. of wine, 12 oz. of beer, or 1.5 oz. of distilled spirits.

Related Reading: How to Enjoy a Glass of Wine While Breastfeeding

Please keep in mind that most of these are suggestions, not rules! Remember there is no perfect time to travel with your baby. 

We hope this information helps you to navigate traveling with a newborn, keeps you relaxed and confident, and empowers you to make the best decisions possible for you and your new baby.


About the Author

Nicole Peluso is the manager of lactation services and education for Aeroflow Breastpumps. She is a board certified lactation consultant, certified parenting educator, birth and postpartum doula, La Leche League Leader, and maternity health insurance specialist. She has been in the field of lactation for over 20 years and is the mother of four children.

Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.