Monday, October 20, 2014

Canadians are the best

How to: Store, Pump and Transport Breast Milk While Traveling

An update from the last post:

There was no issue at all with getting breast milk across the international border of Canada-USA. I simply traveled with the milk separately from all my other luggage and after a quick electronic scan, the friendly Canadians gave me the clear to proceed and were not awkward at all.
Oh Canada, you're so friendly!
Question: Where do you pump while in route?
Answer: Everywhere.

I only found one mother's room at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. See photos below. Otherwise I noticed that in Chicago and at the Toronto airport they had lockable handicapped bathrooms. At first I felt a little guilty occupying these rooms for 20 minutes or so, but then after some reflective pumping, I thought this is truly a medical condition that requires being plugged into a wall and its not my fault nipples are controversial for public display even if for baby's food. That's how I would justify it to myself when I heard knocks at the door, that and usually there were always two of those bathrooms around the area. 

Neutral Art Alert! 

A nice chair but a little bright!

If flying through MSP, the mother's room has a sweet leather comfy chair, and is located on Concourse C (You have to go the informational booth to get the key at C12)

Question: How did you transport the milk? 
Answer: A picnic bag and carry-on.

I came home with close to 100 oz of breast milk which was kind of fun in a way. Here I was walking through three airports with a heavy bag of milk that used to be in my body and now was slung over my shoulder. Does that blow your mind ever? 

Here's the milk transporter bag I used (purchased on Amazon)
I don't think they intended the use to be for transporting precious milk but it worked so well! I did bring about 6 ice packs which I stored in the hotel freezer for the duration of the trip. I decided this bag was going to be perfect size for storing the milk bags that I would later freeze. 

Question: How did you store the milk before flying?
Answer: Hotel Fridge - NOT frozen

I didn't want to attempt to freeze the bags unless I knew that I'd be able to keep them frozen which with a layover and flights always being variable I decided the best bet was to keep them relatively cold.

Question: How do you time pumping with flying to avoid engorgement?
Answer: GOOD question! Plan ahead and be prepared to change those plans.

Flight delays happen and so do long lines at customs! I had milk dripping down my chest while waiting to be allowed into Canada and that was indeed a stressful moment. I got through it by thinking of what a funny story this will be later with my other momma friends. I don't know if I looked suspicious to the customs officer when I finally made it to the front, but my face embarrassed by the round wet marks on my shirt must have said enough. I pumped before retrieving my luggage and did an extra long session as I didn't want to decrease my supply. One flight also included an extra hour of taxi-ing, I debated my head for the whole hour when I would eventually need to approach the flight attendant about pumping on the plane but instead waited it out. I think just being aware of your surroundings and having a possible pumping spot in case of an engorgement emergency is the best way to handle the stress! Also, advocate for yourself and ask the question boldly, "Where would you suggest that I express breastmilk at this airport/gate/flight?"

Next stop: Dallas, Texas for the Travel and Adventure Expo.
I called ahead for an area to pump during the two day show and it went like this...

"Excuse me I'm wondering if there will be a designated area for expressing breast milk?"
"You want to send express mail?"
"No, ha, express breastmilk... pump."
"Ohhhh (nervous texas laughter), I have no idea."

Wish me luck!

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