The Trials and Tribulations of Being an Out-of-Town Milk Factory
By Kate Torgersen on May 11, 2018
Do you want to know a little secret? A secret that a lot of moms might not admit to out loud?
Sometimes, we look forward to business trips.
As hard as it is to imagine leaving our sweet babies at home—there’s also a lot to look forward to. Like getting a full night’s sleep. Or, taking a shower without constantly feeling like you hear a baby crying. Or, savoring an amazing meal and talking to adults. Or, watching a movie in your room… by yourself… in the center of a king-sized bed.
Of course, business trips aren’t for all working mamas, but for some of us, yup… they can feel a little bit like a vacation—except for… you know… the “working” part and perhaps the whole milk factory part.
But, you know what can kill that vacation-vibe? Engorged breasts. Or, a letdown in the middle of a meeting… when you’re wearing a silk blouse. Or, lugging around a breast pump… and taking breast milk through TSA. The truth is, maintaining your milk supply while you’re away, and getting all that liquid gold home is a buzzkill… even after 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
A breastfeeding, traveling mom might feel like she doesn’t have very many options when it comes to managing her milk production on the road. She could:
- Wean her baby (which can be complicated and uncomfortable – to say nothing of the emotional implications)
- Pump and dump (again, awful—so much wasted time and effort!)
- Bring her pumped milk on the plane
- Ship her breast milk home
Those last two options seem reasonable enough, but let’s talk about what they actually entail.
First of all, there’s the storing and freezing. Is the hotel mini-fridge going to be big enough to fit all those ice packs and boob juice? And, will it be cold enough? And then there’s managing all the supplies and parts. And what about cleaning pump parts in the hotel bathroom sink? God forbid, you forget a pump part or a valve breaks – then what?
And then there is packing all the accouterments, the breast milk storage bags, the Ziplocs, sharpies, extra parts, cleaning supplies, sterilization bags and ice packs. If you thought packing before baby was a hassle, you’re not going to love what your packing list looks like now that you’re creating your own out-of-town milk factory.
Then, there’s getting it all home. You could pack and check your bag, but there’s always that possibility your luggage could get lost and never find its way back to you.
So, it isn’t surprising that most moms choose to brave TSA by carrying their milk on the plane. TSA is supposed to make exceptions for breast milk (so long as you follow their special instructions), but there have been plenty of horror stories about uniformed TSA agents tossing breast milk. Which is pretty risky when you think about it—no one wants to get between a mama bear milk factory and her expressed breast milk!
The last option is to ship it. Shipping breast milk on your own involves sourcing shipping materials and dry ice from your hotel room. And, to ship anything with dry ice, you usually have to go to a special shipping facility, which will more than likely mean a long Uber ride to nowheresville during your busy day. Once you’ve invested all this time and effort to get your milk packed and ready to go, you’ve got to fork over the big bucks for the overnight shipping.
At this point, the vacation-vibe is gone and you’re ready to just to get home to your baby. Because yes, sleeping in was nice and the meals were divine, but you miss that little face and those warm snuggles. Now the hassle of all these logistics is pretty much the last thing you want to be dealing with.
And yet, hundreds of women do it every day. Because we mamas are badasses. And, when it comes to getting our babes the breast milk they need, we will find a way.