It’s the cheap flights season now as airlines offer cheap and sometimes free flights just to encourage domestic or international travel for fellow countrymen. I don’t know, may be the airlines’ CEOs wake up from the right side of the bed, pressed the speed dial to the Advertising department and said to one of the Marketing’s Big Shots, ‘hey Bill, bring out those free seats, I wanna reward Malaysians! Let them fly for FREE, let them get inspired, get stylish, and oh, while they are at it, let them eat to their heart’s content while they travel!”
OK, I am just imagining but whatever it is, some moms are jetsetters due to their work. Thank God I have definitely passed the age (ok, don’t even try to guess my real age!) to apply for a highflying job that would have been nice as I imagined, to have a secretary make a nice warm cup of coffee for me every morning or decide the fate of a company’s fifty million ringgit deposit on some mega investment on a whim but which would probably also require me to leave the kids behind to do some globetrotting trips for the company more than a few times a year.
However, even just a few times of work travel a year is quite a lot for a breastfeeding mama though, considering all the planning and logistics involved in being committed as a nursing mother. So much as I am committed to extended nursing until my last happiest little people aka Baby B at least turns 24 months old, in my little world of corporate reality I am required to travel for work an average of twice a year sans the baby, and the longest of such journey was a good 8 days away from him.
I would like to share some tips of making work travel work for nursing mama. Whenever I get any advanced notification for work related travel, I would plan way ahead before the trip by including a pumping session over the weekends or add on an additional pumping session at work to get a good stock of Expressed Breast Milk (EBM) supply in the freezer that Daddy Joe or the babysitter could reach for to feed the baby when I am away.
Over the years, I have worked out an average of 6 bottles of EBM a day for a baby who has not started solids and 4 bottles of EBM for a baby who has started solids. Once they have started some semi-solid food, my baby has managed anything between 4 to 8 bottles of EBM per day when I was away, so somehow this math has worked out well for us.
To maintain my milk supply when I was away, I would take Moringa Capsules and at times Nursing Tea to build up my milk supply which would naturally dwindle a little due to us mommies not being able to get into direct nursing and cuddling of our baby over so many days. On top of that, I would make sure that I eat healthily and had sufficient rest.
If motherhood is all about getting creative and make do with any challenges that come your way, man, pumping while travelling sure is the cream of the crop when it comes to thinking out of the box for a place to express your milk. I have pumped away using a manual pump at nursing rooms of malls, beg a waitress for a pumping corner covering my dignity with a nursing bib at a restaurant, and I have even pumped at a DJ control room stuck with 15 gorgeous models changing for their next catwalk!
Once I am done, I would normally ask for help from any restaurants if I could store the EBM and cooler gel in their fridge until I was done with my work. Just before we head back to our hotel at the end of the day, with a lot of apologies I would ask my colleagues to wait for me while I rushed back to the same restaurant to retrieve my precious EBM. Thank God for really kind and supportive bosses and colleagues I have had all these years!
At night, I wash and sterilize all of the manual pumps and bottles and fit in another pumping session via an electrical pump just before hitting the sack and then at 6am again before I get ready for work. If the room had a chiller I would leave the EBM in it, but I have travelled to enough hot and humid places to notice that you just can’t trust the chiller in most of the hotel rooms. In that case, one would just have to ask for hotel front desk or their restaurants for help to store EBM elsewhere.
If you are travelling for work sans the baby, make sure you bring along at least a manual pump and an electrical pump since not all places or countries that you travel to have a power socket at the place you pump and because you would be pumping quite often. Yes there will be so much pump parts and bottles to wash at night and so many logistics to think about, but it’s worth every droplet of health for the baby!
Some countries have strict airline regulations that all frozen EBM are to be packed along with some cooler and ice packs inside a separate cooler bag and kept in one’s luggage to be checked in, which I have done while travelling for a 16-hours journey only to reach home to half thawed EBM. Some airlines are ok that you hand carry your cooler bag then speak to the air hostess inside the plane and have your cooler bag kept in the chiller compartment of the pantry.
Also, bring some breast pads, breast milk bags (they are lighter to lug around plus you can write the date and baby’s name on it), nursing supplement, cooler gel, cooler bag, wet bag, some wet tissues in case the place you are pumping is not that clean), sterilizing tablets (in case no jug kettle is provided in the room to sterilize stuff), baby bottles detergent and a sponge for all the washing you will be doing nightly.
Last but not least, it will be helpful to carry a photo of your baby to look at while you pump away from home. It also serves as a loving motivation that all of these sacrifices and commitment will one day come back to you when your child, in his successful 30s self, call you from out of his HQ in London that he will be sending a private jet plane to fly you and his dad to Paris just for a nice breakfast with him, overlooking the Eiffel Tower and all. Just saying.
In this seven2sevenmom’s planet, there is no harm to be super-imaginative while one checks out some cheap flights for the next well-deserved holiday. Happy globetrotting, fellow moommies!