Breastfeeding While Traveling: What You Need to Know
Breastfeeding has many health benefits. This is especially true when traveling. Breastfeeding can comfort a baby in unfamiliar surroundings. Breast milk also contains antibodies. Antibodies are special proteins. They help protect babies from bacteria and viruses.
Here are some things you should know about breastfeeding and traveling.
Vaccines and Breastfeeding
When traveling out of the country, you and your baby may need vaccines or medicines. It depends on where you travel.
Vaccines are safe and effective for those who are nursing. Vaccines will not affect the safety of breastfeeding. And breastfeeding will not interfere with how the vaccine works. However, some vaccines cannot be given to infants below certain ages. Also, not all vaccines protect the baby through breast milk.
Carrying Your Baby
While traveling, carrying your child can be a workout. Consider placing your baby in sling or other soft infant carrier. This may make it easier for you to:
- Carry your baby for a long period of time
- Nurse on demand
- Maintain skin-to-skin contact with your baby
- Protect your baby
Milk Output: Stay Hydrated
Milk output may fluctuate during travel. This can happen for many reasons. Examples are a change of schedule, sleep disruptions, different eating patterns, and other stressors. To keep a good milk supply:
- Drink more fluids.
- Do not drink alcohol.
Traveler’s diarrhea can also make you dehydrated. If you get sick, be sure to drink more fluids or use oral rehydration solutions. Continue to breastfeed your baby as you normally would.
Do you plan to bring stored milk with you? If so, know the storage guidelines.
Breast milk can be stored at room temperature (77 F or 25 C):
- Up to 4 hours—if freshly expressed or pumped
- 1 to 2 hours—if previously frozen
- Within 2 hours—if breast milk is left over from a feeding
Refrigerated milk (at 40 F or 4 C or lower) is good for:
- Up to 4 days—if freshly expressed or pumped
- Upto 1 hour—if previously frozen
You should not refreeze thawed milk. Choose a sterile container to store the milk . Label the stored milk with a date.
Your body produces milk according to your baby's development needs. Try to use the freshest milk possible.
Making Travel Easier
Traveling with your baby may not be as easy as traveling alone. But planning well can make a difference. Before your trip:
- Talk to a travel doctor about which vaccines you and your baby need.
- Know how to manage diarrhea—for both you and your baby. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of diarrhea for your baby. However, the baby can still get it. Know how to prepare and use rehydration solutions. Wash your hands often.
- Talk to your health insurance company about travel insurance.
- You may want to supplement your baby’s feedings. If so, bring powdered formula. Mix it with boiled or bottled water, or use a premixed canned formula.
- When traveling by plane, breastfeed during take off and landing. This will reduce the risk of ear pain.
- Pack a breast pump as part of your carry-on luggage. Store it beneath your airplane seat.
- When traveling by car, drive during the baby’s usual sleep times or at night. Make frequent stops along the road to breastfeed. Stretch your legs and get the baby out of the car seat.
Centers for Disease Control
Office on Women's Health
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Public Health Agency of Canada
Breastfeeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/breastfeeding. Accessed October 27, 2021.
Proper storage and handling of breastmilk. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed October 27, 2021.
Travel recommendations for nursing families. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/breastfeeding/travel-recommendations.html. Accessed October 27, 2021.
Proper storage and preparation of breast milk. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/handling_breastmilk.htm. Accessed October 27, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 10/27/2021