Nursing has its pros and cons (mostly pros). They tend to go hand-in-hand. Traveling for example, is one of those grey areas that can go both ways. You can feed your baby in 0 to 3 seconds without having to make a bottle and warm it up but you also have to 1. be available (baby is feeding from YOUR breasts after all) and 2. stop the movement (vehicle, shopping cart, etc.)
After 5 months of new-mom experience, here are my 10 tips to nursing on-the-go:
1. The Pumping Method
Obviously having milk pumped and ready to go is one way to simplify traveling. I prefer to have one bottle with milk in it for easy access when I’m going to be gone for a few hours and going someplace where nursing isn’t as convenient (ex: restaurant, festival, etc.). I keep the bottle either room temperature, if I’m planning on feeding sooner than later, or I will put it in a small cooler bag to keep the milk cold. If needed, most places will happily bring you warm or hot water that you can put the bottle in to warm it up that way.
If I’m going to be gone longer than a couple hours or want extra milk just in case, I will pack extra milk bags in the cooler that I grabbed from the freezer. I also add (ready for this?) frozen popsicles to the bag. You know those colorful popsicles that are basically sugar water in a plastic tube-like pouch? I throw a couple of those in there. Reasoning? I have no idea what my husband did with our freezer pack and I have yet to purchase another one and they work well!
The only downfall to packing frozen milk is if the milk thaws, you have to use it. I don’t do this often because I don’t want to have to use the milk (and then have to pump again because of engorgement) or waste it. No one wants to waste their precious milk!
2. Nursing in Public (General)
Ooh, taboo! I am more comfortable not showing my ta-tas (regardless of what society thinks), and have nothing against women who are confident enough to nurse without a cover up. I personally choose to nurse with a nursing scarf. If you have never heard of a nursing scarf, it’s basically a cute (mine is black/grey Chevron print) infinity scarf that you can open up and drape across you (right shoulder to left hip, for example) while nursing. Baby goes in-between. I love using it whether in public or around extended family or friends. This has made nursing on-the-go comfortable and convenient for me. Sidenote: I found mine at Babies ‘R Us.
3. When You’re Shopping
Depending on where you’re shopping, you might have a couple of options. For example, a mall tends to be convenient because if there aren’t any chairs or couches in the restroom area, you can nurse in a resting area in the main mall section, or even the food court if you have to. I’ve been surprised to find an entire section just for baby in a mall restroom before (separate room, changing area, sink, etc.). That’s what I’m talking about!
Grocery stores on the other hand… not many options here, especially if it’s Kroger or someplace that doesn’t have public restrooms. I try to avoid needing to nurse while I’m out in these situations by feeding him right before. Fortunately I’ve yet to have a moment where he needed to eat RIGHT AWAY while I was Krogering.
4. Visiting The Zoo Or Attending Other Outdoor Events
To be honest, visiting the zoo was the hardest nursing situation I’ve had so far. Why? Because it was blazing hot and there were a ton of people. If you’ve ever nursed in a warm or hot condition, you probably understand. Not only am I getting sweaty (especially using a nursing scarf), but poor baby is starting to sweat too. It’s kind of a mess, but it’s doable. The key thing is to find a nice place to sit where you are comfortable. I also tried to take advantage of nursing when my family was resting so that we weren’t all stopping and waiting for the baby to be done nursing. Or you may have to sit something out for a moment while you nurse (no giraffes for me), which is okay. All part of the gig. Side Note:: The Cincinnati Zoo does have a nice nursing room located in their women’s restroom below the restaurant across from the train station, so if you can, take advantage of that!
5. When You’re On The Road
The longest road trip we’ve taken so far was 4-5 hours and via car. Unfortunately I’m not flexible enough to nurse him while sitting in the backseat and him remaining in his car seat (this was actually a suggestion that I read online once), so when baby gets hungry, we have to stop the car and feed him. To save on time, we don’t try to plan out where we’re going to stop too much. A gas station parking lot, fast-food restaurant parking lot, or really any parking lot that seems safe and not near a ton of cars will do.
6. Extending Time Between Feedings
Another tip, if you are planning on being out and about for a while, is to get baby nice and full during each feeding; that way you don’t have to stop what you’re doing or pull the car over so often. Offering both sides to baby before ending the nursing session is your best bet. Depending on your child’s age, baby should be full for at least 1-3 hours and that gives you more time to do what you need to do (especially if baby takes a nap as well).
7. Think Ahead
This is very important if you are following some sort of schedule wherever you are. Your baby’s “nursing schedule” (because is it ever really a schedule?) may fall in line with your scheduled plans, but chances are it probably won’t. If you don’t want to miss something that is scheduled, prepare in advance. Nurse baby a little bit before can help ensure he/she is happy and good to go when the time rolls around. Is it something you like absolutely do not want to miss and you can’t nurse during… “top off” baby (aka feeding baby a little more to prevent him/her from getting hungry soon even if he/she isn’t starving right now) to prevent hunger pains from happening any time soon. You know, like a gas tank. Gas tank = baby’s belly. And guess what? Gas is free when you’re nursing.
8. When You Want To Avoid The “On-The-Go”
99% of the time, I nurse before we leave to go someplace, especially to the grocery store. Baby full = baby in a good mood. Baby hungry = avoid. Obviously if you are going to be gone for a while, you can’t not feed your child while you’re on-the-go, but if you are running to the store or someplace quick, feeding him/her before you leave should make things much easier. Even if you’re running to the bank or a drive-thru I would suggest feeding beforehand because you don’t want little baby belly to start grumbling and then baby is upset while driving (you know what I’m talking about).
9. Don’t Ever Feel Like A Burden
Important! Examples below of what I’m talking about…
Situation A. You have been driving for a while and finally make it to your stop where friends and family are anxiously waiting to see and hold your baby. Not so quick Great Aunt Penny, baby just took a long trip and needs to nurse first. Yes, I’m the only person who can do that. Yes, you’ll have to wait to hold him/her. Sorry, not sorry.
Situation B. You are already at some place and everyone is goggling and playing with baby and (cue the fussiness) baby is now hungry. Whoever is playing or holding baby at the time gives you a look of “but I just got him/her!” Too bad. Baby has to eat and yes, I’m the only person providing breast milk at this time. Sorry, not sorry.
Situation C. Let’s go back to the zoo. You are with a group of people and everyone is obviously doing a lot of walking so when it’s time to feed baby, you at least have to stop.
“Don’t you have a bottle?”
“No, that’s a perk of nursing.”
You don’t need to make everyone else stop what they are doing or keep you company. Just do your mommy thang and don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty or feel like a burden for nursing! They can be patient and baby will be back in no time. Baby is probably secretly thanking you for “saving them” from Great Aunt Penny anyways.
10. Don’t Make Nursing A Burden
For one, if you are comfortable, you don’t have to go into another room to nurse (another reason why I love my scarf so much). You can still be a part of family gatherings or whatever it is that’s going on. You don’t have to seclude yourself and feel left out. But if you do feel more comfortable going to another room to nurse, that’s okay! Enjoy it. Relax. Take your phone and browse or read (I use the Amazon Kindle app to read while nursing and I love it!). This is beautiful bonding time with you and your baby. Soak up every ounce while baby soaks up yours (tee-hee).
Special thank you to today’s guest blogger and local mama, Morgan French.
I’m Morgan, a first-time momma who left the corporate world to stay-at-home and do more. I enjoy the outdoors, lots of music, and reading the Bible with some black coffee on the side.
You can read more from Morgan on her personal blog, Black Coffee Journal.