Posts Tagged ‘flying’

Breastmilk and the TSA

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Breastmilk and the TSA

When my youngest was still breastfeeding, I took a trip for work that involved riding in jump seats of commercial airplanes. I had flown with my pump before, which was always interesting, but this was a new challenge: Was I allowed to take my pump (and expressed milk on the way home) in the cockpit with me? The answer turned out to be the same as for any other part of a plane: yes.

Here’s the lowdown on breast pumps, breast milk, and the TSA. Keep in mind these tips only apply if you’re flying domestic; if your plans involve international travel, check out this helpful article.

First, these rules are the same whether your baby is with you or not–you don’t need to have your child with you to take a pump or expressed milk onboard. The TSA allows medically necessary liquids (this includes breast milk, formula, and juice for babies) in excess of 3.4 ounces through security, and it does not have to be in a quart sized ziploc bag. You are allowed to take a freezer pack as well to keep them cool.

However, if you have liquids that fit this category, you will need to let the agent know when you first start the screening process. You will send your belongings through the regular x-ray conveyor belt, and then after you have gathered your gear an agent will escort you to a separate area. They may ask to open your liquids, and then they will do an explosives check which is simple and fairly quick (they run a small square of cloth over the bottles and process the cloth for explosive material).  Plan to be at the airport a little earlier for this.

Keep in mind that you are still subject to the airline rules of one carry-on and one personal item per ticketed passenger, even if you are toting a pump or milk.

If you have your pump with you, you are not obligated to declare it to the screener, but you may want to give them a heads-up. I alarmed a young screener one time with mine. I think he saw an electrical box and tubing on the x-ray screen and assumed I had dastardly plans. He was even more alarmed I think once he found out it was a breast pump and not a bomb.

Finally, if you need to pump en route, some airports now have nursing lounges. I have personally found these to be more common overseas than stateside, but hopefully more and more airports will be on board soon (pun intended).

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.

Flying with Your Infant

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

IMG_1435When my first child was born, my husband and I lived several hours by air from most of our family. We wanted to take advantage of my short maternity leave and visit with our new arrival, and to be honest we were pretty nervous. We were experienced travelers, but a baby seemed to open a whole new can of worms.

We weren’t alone. It seemed that all of my new mom friends asked the same questions: When can I travel with an infant, and what do I need to do it?

First off, assuming a healthy infant, you can fly pretty much right away with your new baby. For us, our pediatrician said anytime after two weeks would be fine to fly. My personal advice is to yourself a little time to heal from the labor and delivery and also to get acquainted with the mechanics of taking care of a newborn.

Another consideration for some families is obtaining a passport for your newborn. If your child was born overseas or your destination is, you will need to apply for one. The U.S. State Department’s website lines out everything you need to know about the process. Keep in mind, you will need both parents present to apply for a minor child. Getting the baby’s passport photo taken is a bit of a gymnastic endeavor as no part of you can be visible in the shot (this task gets slightly easier once your child can hold his head up on his own). Finally, keep in mind that a child passport is only good for five years (which makes sense when you see your 5-year-old’s nearly expired passport photo down the road). The turnaround time varies; where I live in Japan, we are lucky to have a U.S. Consulate nearby and their turnaround time is two to three weeks. Other processing offices can be busier and therefore have longer processing times.

Once you have tickets and any necessary documents and are preparing to fly, it can get really easy to go overboard on what you decide to take along. Typically, domestic airlines allow a diaper bag, stroller, and car seat to be either checked or gate-checked for free, for even a lap infant. This is in addition to everything you are able to check and carry-on. Double check with your particular airline though, as things change frequently (and rules are different for different locations and airlines as well). Some airlines are now restricting large jogging strollers, so if you’re bringing a stroller pay extra attention to any size or weight restrictions. No matter what you decide you need, just remember you need to be physically able to transport all of this gear and your baby.

There are lots of great packing lists floating around for traveling with an infant. Many sites have information tailored specifically to breastfeeding moms. Check a few lists and then write up your own list of must-haves for your flight. Remember that the TSA allows you to carry on liquids for your baby, including breast milk and a breast pump, but if you bring them be sure to plan a little extra time through the security screening. The agents will ask you to separate these items and will then take one parent with them for additional screening. You may also want to let the agent scanning your bags know you have a breast pump (if you are carrying it on); I once got a pretty shocked reaction from a young man who seemed very suspicious seeing an electric box with tubing and wires go through.

Finally, I know that price is often a prime deciding factor when purchasing tickets. If you have a few similarly priced options to choose from though, not all airlines are created equal. When traveling both domestic and international, some airlines will go out of their way to help families with infants, which will definitely make your life easier.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. Shes currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.




Pregnancy Week 23: Traveling While Pregnant

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Traveling while pregnantFrequent stops to use the bathroom. Getting out to stretch. Back discomfort. Stopping to get snacks. These are the first things I think of when I think about traveling during pregnancy. With both of my pregnancies, I lived 6 to 12 hours away from family and made long car trips both times.

Here are some tips I would suggest to anyone embarking on a journey while expecting:

Be Smart:

Most doctors and midwives have restrictions they suggest as far as travel is concerned with pregnancy. Many will suggest that you travel during your second trimester. This is a time when most of your morning sickness has passed and you feel the best. If you are traveling a considerable distance, be sure to get your records and charts from your provider, just in case. If something was to happen while you are away, you want to have the paperwork to show an unfamiliar doctor.

Follow Guidelines:

Most airlines allow air travel through your eighth month, while you can travel during your ninth month on some airlines if you have permission from your provider. Traveling by car is a little trickier. You may think you are fine to travel, but remember you may need to take extra precautions. Get out to stretch and walk every few hours. International travel is something you’ll really have to plan out. You will need to make sure it is safe for you and baby, check on any food precautions you should take, and be sure you are vaccinated for the area you are traveling to if needed. If you decide you want to go on a cruise while pregnant, remember that you will need to ensure there is a doctor or midwife on board who could help you in time of an emergency. Also, sea travel may increase your nausea.

General Tips:

I will be making at least two 6-hour trips this spring by car alone with my toddler. I plan on wearing comfy clothes and bringing a pillow, just in case I feel discomfort. Obviously, you need to follow safety guidelines and wear your seatbelt below your tummy. Bringing extra snacks and extra water bottles is on my to-do list. If you are still feeling nauseated, I suggest bringing few bags to have in the car, just in case. If you’re not driving, use the travel time to write a sweet note to your little one or work on catching up on a pregnancy journal. Remember that sitting for long periods of time in a car, plane, or train could cause swelling or leg cramps.

Wherever you go and however you get there while pregnant, be safe and smart and remember to plan, plan, plan. Enjoy your trip!

Karyn Meyerhoff lives and writes in Northeast Indiana. She loves to go on trips, but isn’t a big fan of driving.

Your Rights In-Flight: Nursing on an Airplane

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Your Rights In-FLight: Nursing on an Airplane

Can nursing moms be required to pump or cover up on a flight?

That question is at the heart of a media firestorm between Delta and a breastfeeding mom. Delta is not the only airline that has been in the media over the subject of breastfeeding.  This leads many moms to wonder if breastfeeding while flying is a good idea, allowed, or even legal. The answer is: YES!

First of all, know that you never need to ask someone if it’s OK to breastfeed your baby. In many countries around the world including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, the law sides with the breastfeeding mom. Breastfeeding while flying can lead to a happier baby and less to pack in the carry-on bag for mom. I have breastfed both of my babies on airplanes, and thankfully never had anyone comment in a negative way.

Pointers for Breastfeeding on an Airplane:

  • If possible, choose a seat where you will be comfortable. I prefer a window seat while nursing; I feel like it is easier to be discreet. If your baby has a favorite side when nursing, take that into consideration when choosing which side of the plane to sit on.
  • If you are traveling alone and are more comfortable sitting next to a female while breastfeeding, ask a flight attendant if this is possible.
  • Dress for nursing ease; I usually wear a tank underneath a shirt or cardigan. This makes it easy for me to nurse and I often nurse without a cover when I dress this way. See more about dressing comfortably for nursing–with or without a cover–in this post.
  • Pack a nursing cover or blanket if your baby will nurse with a cover. Both of my babies nursed under covers when they were really young, but as they got older this was no longer possible.
  • Nurse during take-off and landing; this alleviates the pressure in your baby’s ears. Both your baby and your fellow passengers should thank you for this.

Most airlines do not have an official breastfeeding policy that can be easily found online. If you are looking to fly the most breastfeeding friendly airline, here are some comments from media relations of various airlines. This ambiguity could be what has led to airline employees telling moms they must cover up while nursing.

Ask to speak to another airline employee if you are treated unfairly; keep in mind you may be dealing with an uninformed employee if you receive negative comments. If a fellow passenger is rude or making you uncomfortable, you can ask that they are re-seated or if you can move next to a more accommodating passenger.

We love to travel with our children and have found flying with babies to be quicker and often more enjoyable than a long car ride. Nursing on airplanes is easy and within your rights as a mom.

Kristen Beggs is a mom of two who has nursed both of her babies on multiple airlines without incident.