If you are a breastfeeding mom, you know that it is important to keep up your milk supply while you are away from your baby. This can be a challenge when you are traveling, especially if you have to fly. The good news is that it is possible to travel with frozen breast milk, and in this article we will tell you how!
Breastfeeding moms and pumping moms may need to travel with their frozen breastmilk at some point. Whether it’s due to work, traveling away from their baby, or an exclusive pumper who just needs to bring breast milk along – knowing how to properly store and bring along your frozen milk is an important part of your breastfeeding journey.
Knowing the proper way to store your breast milk while traveling will not only ensure that it gets home safely, but that your trip is a little less stressful.
How to travel with frozen breastmilk by plane
The first time you fly with breast milk might feel a bit overwhelming, but I promise, it gets easier with time as you understand how airport security works and the accommodations available at the airports you travel through.
If you are flying under TSA jurisdiction, breast milk is 100% allowed through security and on an airline. By freezing your milk, it can make it easier to bring your breast milk through security. But the bottom line is – you can bring breast milk along with the rest of your belongings.
If your milk is frozen, it can make things easier to get through the security screening process. You can send your milk through the x-ray machine as you would for other screening of other carry-on property, though you can request that it be hand checked.
You can take ice packs or gel packs with you, though they do need to be under the 3.4-ounce limit if they aren’t completely frozen. It’s best to bring frozen ice packs, as they don’t have to be tested like other liquids and you probably won’t be questioned. I’ve heard of some people taking their cooler to a restaurant in the airport to get it filled with ice beforehand.
Dry ice is permitted if it is obvious it is being used to keep your milk cool. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the rules here.
Be aware that it may take more time when traveling with breastmilk, so leave for the airport with plenty of time to spare.
How to store frozen breastmilk at a hotel
If you are staying a hotel, check ahead of time what type of accommodations they have available in your hotel room. If you will be gone for just a few days, you can probably make due with a hotel fridge that’s turned up all the way. However, ideally, you’ll have access to a freezer. make sure that there is at least a fridge with a freezer available to you.
You can store thawed breastmilk in a fridge for 4-6 days, and it’s best if you can store it at the back. If there is no freezer or fridge available, you can request that it be stored in the hotel freezer. Just make sure you label everything very clearly and check with the hotel before you check-in to see if this is a possibilities. If you are using a hotel freezer, you may have to freeze more reasonable quantities, as you may not be able to use the whole fridge.
How to travel with frozen breast milk by car
Now that we have talked about air travel and breast milk, let’s move on to traveling moms and cars! This can be a more convenient way to travel with your liquid gold, just because you don’t have to deal with security. It can be easier to as much milk as you have space for as well.
If you are traveling by car the best way to store milk that is frozen is in a cooler or small cooler bag. That is the best way to ensure it stays frozen while traveling and for when you reach your final destination. If you pump fresh milk while on the road, you’ll want something to keep it cool as well.
If you are going to be in the car for an extensive amount of time you may want to pack your cooler with dry ice. The last thing you want is to find out your frozen milk had thawed along the way.
If you are traveling with a small amount of frozen human milk you could get away with using a smaller cooler. So first you will need to determine how big of a cooler you need. Follow our recommendations below on how to pack your cooler. You might want to even pre-freeze your cooler to help it stay extra cold. Be sure to check out our article on the best coolers for breast milk. However, if you are traveling with other food items, you could just bring along a regular large cooler, especially if you won’t need the breast milk along the way.
Refrain from opening the cooler until you are at your destination.
What if my frozen breast milk thaws?
If, for some reason your frozen milk begins to thaw on your trip (meaning no ice crystals are presents) you will want to be sure to use your milk within 24 hours or else you will sadly need to discard it. It would be sad to lose so much breast milk, so preparation will help to prevent this.
How to pack your breast milk cooler with frozen breast milk
Frozen is best, as it is more likely to last a long flight in an airplane or car ride.
Even if there’s one ice crystal left, it can be refrozen. If your milk is just cool, having enough ice packs, ice in your cooler, or dry ice is essential. More is better – you never know when there might be a delayed flight or if you’ll have to sit on the tarmac for an hour.
Be sure to squeeze all of the excess air out of the bag to prevent it from bursting in the air or in the back of a car.
When it is time to pack the cooler be sure to pack it as full as possible or with as much milk as you need to pack. If you don’t have enough milk to completely fill it, consider taking a few additional steps and freeze a ziploc bag or two with water and place them alongside your milk bags.
Stand your breast milk storage bags upright in a uniform way to utilize the space and to allow for easy access. You can also put the milk supply into large Ziploc Bags and then place the Ziploc bag inside the cooler.
If you are traveling with frozen breast milk in bottles you would simply arrange the bottles in a way that keeps them upright and allows you to put as many in as you need.
You can than either fill the cooler with ice or use large freezer packs. Both are great options. Yeti sells a really good ice pack that would be perfect for keeping your milk frozen.
Once you have filled the cooler with your milk and the ice, shut the lid and do not open it again until you reach your destination. If your cooler is small enough you can pack it the night before you leave and then put the cooler in a larger freezer until you need to start your traveling.
Other Posts You May Enjoy:
- 7 Tips for Healthy and Nutritious Breastfeeding
- Does Breastfeeding Help You Lose Weight?
- Top Signs of Low Milk Supply to Worry About
- Blue Gatorade for Increasing Milk Supply – Does it Help?
- Protein Powder While Breastfeeding: Everything You Need to Know
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.