Heading out on an airline trip? Here's some tips to make your travel easier
If you are traveling with your baby, nursing during take-off and landing can help to prevent pain by allowing the ears to pop. That said, the FAA clearly states that the safest place for a baby or child during a flight is in an FAA-approved safety seat or harness, so you need to use your best judgment knowing your child.
Whether nursing or not, some pediatricians also recommend judicious use of decongestant nose drops or oral decongestant. While there has been much recent discussion about the usefulness of this type of medication, I personally can remember vividly the unbearable ear pain involved in landings when I was a child, and I have incredible sympathy for crying children in this situation. If your child is prone to this problem, or if your child has any sinus congestion or cold symptoms, talk with your pediatrician about this issue before flying.
If you pump milk, be aware that as of August 4, 2007, TSA lifted the ban on traveling with breastmilk, whether you are traveling with or without your child. Quantities are not limited to 3 oz. amounts and there is no overall limit that I am aware of. And yes, cold packs are allowed along with the milk.
Remember airplane travel is dehydrating, so be sure to drink a lot of water during the flight. With TSA's liquid restrictions, that may mean buying ridiculously-overpriced water bottles in the terminal once you pass through security, and sometimes for cash only. So be sure to bring sufficient funds to purchase water for your flight. Once on board, don't be afraid to ask the flight crew for additional water, even during times they are not otherwise serving.
Also remember, germs abound on airplanes. Use hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes before nursing, even if you are not otherwise prone to do so, or are not otherwise a fan of these products. Remember that these items are poisonous if ingested by young children, so be careful where you stash them during the flight.
As many breastfeeding moms are also fans of babywearing, it is worth noting that babies can not be worn in slings or carriers of any sort in flight or through airport security. While you will hear women tell you that they have been allowed to do so, it is officially against policy, so plan for it. There is no sense raising your stress level by arguing with TSA or flight personnel about this issue.
Ask about pre-boarding. For reasons surpassing understanding, many airlines/airports have stopped offering this option to families. When struggling on board with the many carry-ons and car seats necessary for travel with kids, I consider it essential and would actually consider choosing one airline over another based on this availability, so you may want to call and ask when shopping for flights. Pre-boarding ensures your family will be seated together, that you have time and space to install your car seat correctly and safely, that carry-ons containing children's items can be stowed within reach and that children are not subject to being trampled or hit with luggage during boarding. Also, bringing a stroller to carry all your gear and gate-checking it, even if you won't be using it where are going, is totally worth it in my experience.
These tips, along with understanding how best to manage nursing itself on the airplane (addressed in a separate article Airline Travel -- Nursing On the Airplane), can make travel less stressful so you can focus on the destination, not the journey!
Disclaimer: All material on the BellaOnline.com Breastfeeding website is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Although every effort is made to provide accurate and up-to-date information as of the date of publication, the author is neither a medical doctor, health practitioner, nor a Certified Lactation Consultant. If you are concerned about your health, or that of your child, consult with your health care provider regarding the advisability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your individual situation. Information obtained from the Internet can never take the place of a personal consultation with a licensed health care provider, and neither the author nor BellaOnline.com assume any legal responsibility to update the information contained on this site or for any inaccurate or incorrect information contained on this site, and do not accept any responsibility for any decisions you may make as a result of the information contained on this site or in any referenced or linked materials written by others.