A new mom’s guide to pumping milk while traveling for work
Recently, I deployed a human to production. Shipped at 11 lbs 3 oz, he rapidly doubled in size in his first six months. At Cloudflare, I run the Developer Relations team, and my first quarter back from parental leave, I had 3 business trips: 2 international, 1 domestic. As an exclusive breastfeeder, this means solving the logistical puzzle of moving a large quantity of milk home, to the tune of 40-50 oz (1200 – 1500 mL) per day given the size of my baby.
Since I ferried milk home to my baby and did extensive research in preparation, I figured I’d pay it forward and share my own learnings, and publish the guide that I wished someone wrote for me. In the final section for further reading, I’ve linked many of the articles I read in preparation although some of the advice from the reading is rather dated. I’m including them because I’m grateful to be standing on the shoulders of giants and accumulating the wisdom of all the parents who went on this adventure before me. What’s possible in 2019 is truly amazing compared to a generation ago or even half to one decade ago.
Before I dive into the advice, I’d like to thank the other parents in our Parents group for their advice and help, our Office Team for maintaining a mother’s room in every HQ (even 2 in San Francisco), our People Team for their support of the Parents Employee Resource Group (ERG) and for helping me research insurance related questions, and Cloudflare in general for family friendly policies. (See career opportunities at Cloudflare )
What’s in my pump bag?
When packing my pump bag, I packed for 2 pumping use cases: 1) pumping on the airplane or in a non-ideal (nursing room) area of an airport, and 2) pumping in a conference-provided mother’s room or a non-ideal private area. Here’s my packing list:
Pump Bag packing list (and notes):
- Insulated cooler backpack
I used an Igloo cooler bag because it was large enough to accommodate a smaller insulated milk bag and had separate compartments so I can access pump items without subjecting the inside to warm / room temperature air.
- Insulated milk bag
- Travel pump and bottles
- Baby Buddha pump
It charges via USB so I can use my power brick as a backup. This was recommended by another parent in the Parents ERG group. My first trip I packed my Baby Buddha, my Willow set, and my manual pumps for the trip, but I really relied on the Baby Buddha for all my subsequent trips. (At home I use Spectra, and at work we share a Medela hospital grade pump. I suppose I’m pumped to be a pump enthusiast.) On subsequent trips, I no longer packed bottles and went exclusively Kiinde + Baby Buddha.
- Pump cleaning wipes
I used Medela pump wipes. A large box came with a microwave sterilizer bag.
- 2 refrigerator thermometers (see temperature management section below)
- Extra gallon ziplock bags (a lot of them)
If you are traveling in the U.S., I recommend printing out these two TSA policy pages. Many airlines allow your medical device (e.g., breast pump) to be a separate carry-on item. Before my trips, I printed the airline policy page that states this for each airline I had flights with and stored it in my pump bag. Although it didn’t come in necessary, I’m glad it was there just in case. Each airline may have a different policy, so call each airline and confirm that the pump bag did not count against carry-on limits, even though you’re also printing out the policy from their website.
- Sharpie to label milk bags
- Travel pump parts cleaning kit
- Ice Packs (must be frozen solid to pass through security)
It is possible for an insulated milk bag inside a cooler backpack to maintain