Breastfeeding can be hard, and for a new mom it can feel challenging to figure out breastfeeding on the go. In all 50 states a woman is allowed to breastfeed in any public or private place she is allowed to be. However, not all women feel comfortable breastfeeding anywhere anytime. There are women who gracefully breastfeed while pushing a shopping cart through Target, and then there are some that prefer privacy, have an easily distracted baby, or breastfeeding looks or feels cumbersome. If you are the latter group, here are some tips and information to help you feel more comfortable while out.
Just Because You’re Out In Public, Doesn’t Mean No Privacy
Several places offer designated space for nursing moms so you don’t have to feel confined to your car or bathroom; don’t ever feel like you need to feed your baby or pump in a bathroom. These spaces go by many names like mother’s room, lactation station, comfort quarters, etc. and can be found in places that are family and kid friendly. They have a chair or recliner and an outlet for a breast pump, and may even include diaper changing stations, sinks, space for strollers, small toys to keep toddler siblings entertained, etc. Some breastfeeding friendly places include libraries, community centers, family shopping centers, dressing rooms, museums, stadiums, and zoos. You can always check with staff or an information desk if they don’t have a lactation room and they may guide you to a private room or secluded area if you need assistance finding a quiet place. Here in the Iowa City area you can find spaces at the libraries in North Liberty, Coralville, and Iowa City, the Children’s Museum (by the Imagine Acres zone), Coral Ridge Mall (near the food court and family restrooms), Target (a nursing friendly dressing room), Von Maur, newer modeled Hy-Vees, and several university buildings.
There’s An App For That
If you happen to be on the go or visiting another city you can also download an app like Mamava. It maps out lactation spaces, includes reviews, and lists amenities of that particular place. Mamava also has their own pods that can be unlocked by using their app.
Dress For Success
To make breastfeeding easier, consider your clothing options. Nursing bras can be utilized with one hand. Nursing tops and dresses can be fashionable and functional. Button-down shirts, deep necklines, layering t-shirts & tank tops, and cardigans are also wardrobe options to consider. A sling or baby-wearing wrap also keeps a baby close and comfy. A nursing cover is totally optional and can be thrown into the diaper bag or worn as a scarf. A burp cloth or muslin blanket also works in a pinch. Take into consideration some babies don’t like to be covered or they may squirm enough and make a cover ineffective. Babies and moms can also get uncomfortable being covered in warmer weather.
Pumping And Storing On The Go
If pumping is more of your style or you are going to be away from your baby, portable pumps are available on the market if you don’t want to lug around the bigger models. These use charged batteries so you don’t have to be tethered to a wall and many of them fit just inside the bra. Be sure to bring along a cooler and ice pack for safe storing. Restaurants, cafes, and gas stations are also places you can get a cup or two of ice to put in your cooler. You can also express beforehand and bring the milk on the go. Breast milk storage bags are handy and can be disposed of once empty. When staying at a hotel, you can request a refrigerator for your room. If you happen to be on a trip away from your baby, you can also look into delivery options like Milk Stork or FedEx to ship breast milk and some employers may take care of costs for work-related trips.
Airports and TSA
All major airports in the US are required to have private lactation rooms available to the public. Breast pumps are considered to be a medical device and can be packed in carry-on or checked luggage. Breast milk and cooling accessories like ice packs are exempt from the 3 oz liquid rule for carry-on luggage. TSA recommends using clear bottles instead of milk storage bags for screening purposes. Click on the link for more information regarding TSA guidelines.
With these tips, you can still continue your breastfeeding or pumping journey while out and about and still maintain the privacy and comfort level you prefer. Happy feeding, mamas!