Thursday, November 29, 2012

Planes Trains and Automobiles while Breastfeeding

Well, with four babies and family out of town, I have done plenty of road trips while breastfeeding.  And around the Holidays especially.  I would say that it is easier than traveling with a newly potty trained child.  And the hardest road trip we ever took is when I had both a breastfeeding baby and a newly potty trained two year old.  That day a 6 hour drive took 9 hours.  I think my husband would say it is easier to travel with a breastfeeding baby than a 8mo pregnant wife, which we did last April.  Mostly because not only did we stop every two to three hours for bathroom breaks, but I had to stop and walk around and I could only drive for two hours before my feet fell asleep and started having Braxton-Hicks contractions.  As a passenger I could put my feet up to keep my feet from falling asleep.  And emptying my bladder stopped the contractions.

Three weeks old at a funeral
Anyway, back to road trips with a breastfeeding baby.  Jujube, my third baby took the earliest road trip.  Jujube was born in Texas, and when he was three weeks old we had to drive to Minnesota for my grandmother’s funeral.  I refused to fly with a baby that little and I wanted to go to the funeral.  Jujube was a champion traveler.  Many babies sleep better and longer when the car is moving at highway speeds, and Jujube did great.  He did have big sisters in the back of the car to help him with his pacifier.  Basically, we expected to need a 30 minute stop approximately every three hours.  So if it had been 3 hours since the last stop and it was going to be more than 30 minutes between cities we would wake him up.  But if the next place to stop was 15 minutes away we would keep going.  Sometimes he would have to wait, and possibly cry for 10-15 minutes but certainly no extreme amounts of time.  I generally nursed him in the car if we were just getting gas and in the restaurant if we were eating.  All meals were coordinated with feeding times.

You could also give baby an expressed bottle of breastmilk instead of stopping.  Electric breast pumps can have car adapters and I think bottle warmers do too.  So, you could either bring milk with you in a cooler and use the bottle warmer to warm it up, or pump immediately before giving baby the bottle.  Since I have always had the ability to stop and nurse the baby, I didn’t mess with this.  Just getting the milk ready for baby would take almost as long as getting to a place to nurse.

The final option would be for mom to sit next to baby in the car and do contortions to enable baby to breastfeed while buckled in the car seat.  I tried this once.  Since I am only 5’2”, I could not confortably lean over and get Miss Froggie latched correctly.  I have heard that some people are able to do this just fine.  But it didn’t work for me.  This may not even be safe.  I haven't really looked into it.

I actually think flying with a baby is more difficult.  The reason I wouldn’t fly with Jujube at 3 weeks old was because of his immune system and exposure the unknown viruses and bacteria on the plane before he had his 2 month shots.  I did fly with my first and second right after the two month shots.  The hardest thing about flying is that you want to nurse the baby while the plan is taking off and landing, which for Miss Froggie, meant I had to make sure she was hungry at takeoff time.  She would NOT nurse when she wasn’t hungry. ( Jujube was more laid back and I so He didn’t have to be as hungry to nurse.)  And, the airplane has rules about when you can stand and change diapers.  You can hold baby anytime, but you can’t put them in a sling during takeoff and landing.  But to me, flying with a breastfeeding baby is much easier than flying with a toddler.

I have not (yet) traveled by train with a breastfeeding baby.  I have traveled with a three year old by train overnight once, and may be traveling with all four kids this summer.  There are many reasons why a train is less convenient than other means of transportation.  But I think trains may be the most kid friendly means of transportation.  On a train, you can eat, sleep, and toilet and move about whenever you want to. So arriving on time has nothing to do with when the kids needed to eat or use the bathroom.


  1. Hi Nataline,
    I just wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for a Liebster award! I love your sweet blog and really think you deserve it! You can find the instructions at the following post:
    Also just started following you on Linky

    Katie from Life in the simple lane