Pumping on a Plane???

Those 4 words remind me of “Snakes on a Plane!” except they engender perhaps even more fear.  But I’m going to have to get over it because I’ve decided to leave the girls for 60 hours and head to Vegas for two days of WPPI. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

Excuse me while I hyperventilae.

This was no small decision on my part. The truth is that with my app being released this past September, this trade show season would be the one to go to to spread the word. And when my good friends at H&H (aka best-lab-in-the-whole-universe-and-you-should-be-using-them-if-you-aren’t-why-not?) said I could demo the app in their booth it was a no-brainer. Ok, well, it wasn’t a no brainer because do you know how much milk I had to stash in order to take this little jaunt? Over 100 ounces.

You look at our freezer and think Ohmygod its totally full of milk, we’ll never go through all that…But for every feedings its TWO bags so it dwindles soooo fast.  So every night for the past almost two months after the girls go to sleep I would stay up an extra 2 hours so I could squeeze in a pumping session to store milk. It’s been exhausting. But they are so worth it:

Pretty in pink!

And of course I’ll have to pump while I’m gone, which will be um.. interesting. How am I going to sterilize pump parts at the hotel? Still haven’t figured that one out.

But by far the most perplexing piece of this puzzle is how will I pump while ON the plane? The flight is amost 5 hours.. Does anyone have any words of wisdom for me? Experience pumping in airports, planes, hotel rooms and/or transporting milk through airports etc?

I’d be much obliged!

And, if you are a photographer and happen to be reading this, you might be interested in the fact that my app is on sale right now! Even better, if you are going to WPPI I’d love to meet you-  details below!


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jbhat says:

You’re going to be a traveling dairy. I love it and think you are a supermom. Have a great trip, and enjoy the break from the home routine.


Cathy says:

Wow! As a mama of twins as well, hats off for keeping up with pumping like you do! Hope you’re enjoying WPPI! ~Cathy

Fiona says:


As others have said – don’t go in the toilet/restroom/WC/whatever…..why should you? You’re doing nothing wrong. Just explain to the person next to you what’s going on and have a wrap over/scarf or something if you need to protect yourself from people gawping.

Good luck. Kudos to you!

Fiona x

shawna says:

I just did this myself while I was away for 4 days. I pumped right before getting on the plane and then again as soon as I got off. I used the family bathroom so it was bigger and I wasn’t just sitting in a shall on the toilet, YUCK. I used the micro bags and the in room micro for sterilization. We were able to pick up dry ice and a foam cooler for freezing the milk and then checked it with our luggage for the 4hr flight home. The milk was solid as a rock when we got home at least 8hrs after we last had it in the cooler. Check with grocery stores for dry ice/coolers, I found spending $20 much more valuable than dumping or spoiled milk.

Kathleen says:

So I was just in Las Vegas for work and pumped while I was away. I didn’t pump for two, so I have to say I’m impressed! So here’s what I know.

Pumping on a plane is really difficult, but doable. I’ve only done that once. Personally, I’d rather wait to pump and leak a little bit (with pads) than do it, but that’s me. :) I would have lots of blankets with you and ideally something like a nursing cover so you don’t have to worry about it falling down while you’re getting situated (if you’re planning to attempt pumping in your seat). I did so with my husband next to me – not sure I would be brave enough otherwise.

Are you planning to keep the milk? I almost always do when I travel, but I generally have less than what you will be dealing with. A few thoughts that might be helpful if you are planning to keep the milk (which I assume you are since you’re asking about sterilizing pump parts):

* Call your hotel beforehand. Explain that you are pumping and need a refrigerator to store milk. I have never had a hotel give me a hard time or try to charge me for an in room fridge for that purpose – I would think any hotel has to keep fridges for guests who need them for medical purposes also. Particularly in Vegas where most of the mini bar fridges are motion sensor triggered, you want your own separate fridge.

* Some hotels have allowed me to freeze an ice pack in the restaurant freezer. Some have not. I have not had good luck in Vegas with that (the two times I’ve been there while pumping), however the mini fridge they gave me in my room had a little freezer compartment that worked well enough when I set the fridge to all the way cold. Don’t forget to buy and bring an ice pack!

* For cleaning pump parts, I have always just used the Medela wipes while traveling. They are made for cleaning pump parts when you cannot wash them. Pump parts don’t really need to be sterile – just clean. (I don’t know if a hotel would give you an in-room microwave as easily as an in-room fridge, but it’s worth asking if you do want to go that route. I do know they get leery of allowing anything that’s yours, particularly something like used pump parts in their food prep equipment.) One final alternative – I have also packed dish soap and a bottle brush before and just washed my parts after each use in the sink, but I find I’m always balancing stuff so it doesn’t touch the sink, which I assume is probably pretty gross. :)

* TSA seems to have a different set of rules in every airport for how they deal with breast milk in your carry on. When I last flew home from LAS with pumped milk (last month), they gave me a hard time about having it in bags – bottles are easier for them to check (but who knows – it always seems to change). I was told, because it was in bags, I needed to be subjected to a thorough search/swabbing. They literally rubbed test strips all over me (ALL over), all over my luggage, all over every article of dirty clothing in my suitcase, etc. AND my bags of milk and tested them. It really wasn’t *that* terrible (they were nice about it, at least), but it took a while, so be aware of that.

I hope that helps!

Jocelyn says:

Are you planning on keeping your milk that you pump on the trip? If you just pump and dump then steralization doesn’t matter. I took a trip to Ecuador when my baby was 8 months old and I bought a manual pump for that trip. I was nervous about it but it worked easily. It is a medala one. Because I had a manual pump I was able to pump in the airport bathroom stalls, on the plane in my seat, and in the jungle! Now, I was sitting next to my husband so he didn’t care that I was pumping on the plane next to him. I just put a blanket over me. But it really doesn’t make any sound so if you were sitting by a window and put a blanket over you and maybe explained to the person beside you then you could do it easily. And then you could just dump it in the plane toilet or sink. It is so sad to get rid of the milk but in this case it might be the easiest thing to do. You would just be pumping for the purpose of keeping your milk supply up. I’m sure if you had anyone beside you who is a parent they wouldn’t be freaked out by it. You could pack your nicer pump to use while at the hotel etc. Good luck! And enjoy your time!

Sarah says:

The microwave bags work great, but the bummer is Las Vegas is the pits and almost none of the hotel rooms there have refrigerators or microwaves. Because they want to force you to go spend money in their casinos. Do you know if you have either of those in your room? If no microwave you could use some antibacterial wipes?

Sarah says:

Yep! Micro bags by medela. If they try to charge u for a microwave n fridge n ur room explain what u need it for and they may knock off the fee. Good luck!

Naomi says:

Ariana, I commend you for so much dedication and planning with all this pumping and trip preparation! When my daughter (now 4) was 3 months old, my husband learned that his company was giving the two of us a trip to Hawaii and it was two months away. After much deliberation, we decided to go and like you I went into a milk storage frenzy, storing enough for my daughter to have 6 days and nights of breast milk. Every little notch I put on that paper on the fridge where I counted the ounces was motivating.

Anyway, I had my pump, my car charger, and all the accessories and I was concerned how it’d work on the airplane too. I think I had to do it one time. (Other times I was in the airport restroom’s last stall for like 30 minutes!) I had planned to use the restroom on the plane, but it turned out that with the sound of the plane itself, nobody (even me) could hear the pump. My husband was next to me, so that helped. I had one of those hooter hiders as well as a large blanket. Nobody knew the difference. And then of course the sad part… dumping the milk down the drain. In Hawaii, I pumped in our rental car once and poured the milk out the window. Lol. Oh the stories…

My only issue was that on the flight home, I accidentally threw away a piece of a pump accessory that I really needed, so when I got home I had to buy another pump super super fast since mine was special order and it was still a 3-hr drive to my daughter. Argh. Well, that and the fact that I got double ear infections on the trip. :)

I’m sure you will love your time away and it will go too quickly. I hope it all goes smoothly. You’ll be fine!

Meaghan says:

Oh my gosh! That will be a hard trip, but totally worth it. So much planning while nursing though!

So, I only took day trips while I was nursing, and never had to pump on a plane or on the airport. But, what I would do is pump in the bathroom immediately before takeoff snd again when I landed. And I’d bring a hand pump on the plane in case I needed to relieve pressure. I could go 5 hours though – not optimal, but sometimes I had to.

Also, I only sterilized things once a week personally, but those Medela bags should do the trick if you have access to a microwave. Some hotels have them.

Good luck!

Amy says:

Not fun! Well…Vegas will be fun but the pumping not so much. I’ve pumped for a weekend away (from one) and I found a quiet airport corner once, then a mothers room another time at the airport. In the hotel I used Medela quick clean wipes for the pump parts, and I pumped directly into the bags. I stored in the room fridge, and carried back in a cooler. They checked the milk with a little wand thingy to make sure it wasn’t some sort of explosive! I did make sure to warn them ahead of time that I was carrying liquids, like as soon as I got up to security. Good luck and have a great time!

Kerry L. says:

Good luck! Good for you breastfeeding your twins – I’m sure that’s hard work, I know keeping up with one was hard at times. :) As for sterilizing parts at the hotel – if you can get access to a microwave, there are microwave sterilizer bags specifically for breast pump parts (it might be Medela that makes them?) For pumping on the plane, I think you might need to enlist the help of a flight attendant and you’ll have to use the bathroom. :( Since it will take you a little while, you’ll want to make sure the attendant knows why you’ll be so long. I’m assuming you have a battery pack for your pump? Also, check TSA regs – you might have to restrict each bottle to 3oz? Good luck – have fun at WPPI!!!