One of THE most common questions I got when I went to Kenya in January was, “But what about Amos? Aren’t you still breastfeeding him? Are you going to pump while you’re abroad? How does that even work?”
The answer to all of that is and was: YES. When I went abroad to Kenya in January, I was still nursing Amos. In fact, Amos was breastfeeding four to five times a day AND at night… So, needless to say, I was nervous to leave him, but I knew the trip was meant to be and I knew that he would be fine. I planned to pump while I was gone, but I was definitely unsure how it was all going to work! That’s a lot of time on a plane, a lot of time away, and I had no idea what my access to power would be and how / when / where I would even get to pump. It’s not everyday that you’re in a developing country using a breast pump.
This wasn’t exactly something I could ask a lot of people how there experience was.
In fact, I was preparing to leave, I Googled everything I could think of:
Yeah, my searches did not return me great results.
In the end, it all worked out. I went away for eight days. 24 hours of travel each way. Hours spent in a van on bumpy (READ: very bumpy) Kenyan roads. A night in a tent in the middle of a safari. I mean, you name it when it comes to pumping situations, and I pretty much experienced it while I was gone.
And Amos? Amos did awesome. I had mostly enough breastmilk pumped in advanced that got him through… (although my husband actually did run out of milk towards the end of the trip but I’ll give you my tip on what we did with that!)
Anyway, I thought I would just share with you guys a few tips for what to do if you’re traveling abroad and you plan to be away from your breastfed baby… (basically I’m just going to share with you what I did because it worked for me. :))
Before you leave:
What about pre-trip vaccines and anti-malaria pills?
I did take anti-malarials while I was traveling. I will always take anti-malarials when traveling to Kenya, but since this time of year is Kenya’s summer, I definitely made sure to stay on top of my malaria medicine. As far as what malaria medication is safe to use while breastfeeding, I consulted my doctor (also, it’s pretty well known) and we determined that Doxycycline was the best option for me to take. You can read more about that here… but definitely ask your doctor if you have questions!
Most of the vaccines needed for Kenya I had before my first trip. However, I still needed four shots this time, all of which are safe for breastfeeding. I HIGHLY recommend going to a Passport Health. They are really knowledgable, you are able to get all you need, and they can answer any of your questions.
What to pack:
About the pump I used:
When I was nursing Lilly, I used a Medela Pump in Style breast pump. It is a great breast pump and really served me well… however it isn’t exactly small. It does have a battery pack, but for this trip in particular, I was really worried about lugging it around, carrying it on, finding a reliable outlet, etc.
When the team at Medela learned that I was going to be traveling to Kenya and pumping the whole time I was gone, they sent me a Medela Freestyle breast pump to try out. You guys, no lie, this literally blessed me in a way I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciated it… For this particular experience, it was a game changer.
The Medela Freestyle breast pump is rechargeable (I was able to get about three hours out of one charge… probably more. But let’s just say that I only needed to recharge my pump every couple of days while in Kenya, so I was able to recharge it in the hotel room at night.)
I also love how portable it is. It has a CLIP on it so I can just clip it on my pants and, while using a free-hand pumping bra, I can literally walk around and do anything while also pumping. I don’t have to be tied to a giant pump with a bag or anything like that.
Seriously, I pumped EVERYWHERE with this thing and it was so easy. I only wish I had the Freestyle pump the whole time! The Freestyle is 100000000000% percent worth the extra cost over the Pump In Style. Trust. Me.
If you’re also looking for an AWESOME and portable breast pump, Medela launched the Sonata recently which is super quiet, rechargeable, connects to an APP on your phone, and is basically like a hospital grade pump. It’s amazing! I love that all these things are now available to help make breastfeeding easier for mamas of all kinds!
Coming home, I followed basically this exact time frame but tried to pay attention to what time it was at home and pump according to Amos’s normal eating schedule in order to start the process of getting back to normal.
I just pumped right in my seat and used a nursing cover overtop while I pumped. No one was the wiser (except my friend Pam sitting next to me, but that was because we were traveling together and she knew what I was doing!). In fact, I sat next to a man on one flight and he had zero clue what was going on. Once I was done pumping, I would just go to the bathroom on the plane to wash my bottles.
Did I save my breastmilk? For this trip, no.
Can you travel on a plane with breastmilk? Yes!! I have done pumped and saved milk before while traveling (within the US)! You can do it! You are legally allowed to carry breastmilk on the plane. I just packed a small, flexible cooler (like this one), some portable, instant ice packs (like these), and was good to go.
However, just due to the amount of time I was going to be gone this trip, coupled with the fact that it was 24 hours of travel time and since there was basically zero chance I’d have access to a fridge. Not to mention I just wasn’t sure what could possibly be transmitted from Kenya to the US via my milk, I opted to pump and dump this time. Trust me, I cried a little bit on the inside every time I poured out that precious liquid gold. But, it is what it is.
DAYS IN COUNTRY:
Once I returned home, Amos picked right back up with nursing. I was so thankful! I’ll definitely be sharing more about my breastfeeding journey with both kiddos soon… as the experiences were SO different with Lilly than with Amos. If you have any questions, I’d love to be sure to answer them in an upcoming post!
PHEW. I know this was a long post, but I really hope this is helpful! PLEASE feel free to ask questions in the comments as I would LOVE to help!
Now, the AMAZING team at Medela has been so, so, so generous to giveaway a BUNDLE to one of you guys!! That includes a Medela Freestyle Breastpump Deluxe (MSRP $379.99), a Easy Expression Bustier (MSRP – $39.99), an a trip of Medela’s Quick Clean Products (MSRP $23.97). How amazing is that?!?!?!?! Use the Rafflecopter tool below and be sure to share this giveaway with any expecting mamas or nursing mamas!!
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