Flying with Breast Milk

Newborn & Infants • Jun 15, 2021

Flying with Breast Milk and Your Pump: What to Know

Breastfeeding can be a challenging journey! While clogged ducts, mastitis, and babies with reflux are normal hurdles, flying with breast milk does not have to be a game-changer. Whether you direct nurse, exclusively pump, use donor milk or supplement with formula, we want you to know that we support you. And if you’ve made it through this pandemic with a new baby at home, you are probably itching to get out and travel to celebrate!

When each mother-baby dyad weans, breastfeeding is unique to that family, and sometimes, moms see traveling without baby as a perfect opportunity for dad or another family member to help baby wean while mom is away, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re traveling without your baby, you can absolutely maintain your breastfeeding relationship and “bring home the milk”… baby can’t eat bacon anyway.

Here are a few tips for traveling with your pump and milk!

  1. Print out a copy of the official TSA Guidelines on traveling with breast milk. Carry it with you when you travel. Every airport is different, and every TSA agent has a different experience. Be kind, but know your rights to travel with your pump and milk.
  2. Your pump is considered a medical device. You can carry it on, and it should not count against your carry-on bag total.
  3. Be familiar with the TSA liquids rule, but understand that breast milk is exempt! Parents flying with or without their child can bring breast milk in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces through security in carry-on baggage.
  4. Leave extra time to get through security. Definitely let the TSA agent know that you have breast milk in your carry-on as soon as possible.
  5. If frozen, breast milk can go through screening without additional testing. If fresh/liquid, TSA may perform additional testing to see if it is actually liquid gold. Consider larger clear containers such as mason jars or Nalgene bottles so that if they request to test each, there are fewer total containers to test. You can request that they do not open your containers, but they may perform additional screening in that case. You can also request that the TSA agent put on clean gloves before handling your milk.
  6. The X-ray screening machine is not going to damage your milk.
  7. If you’re freezing your breast milk, you’ll need either freezer packs or ice. Make sure your freezer packs are completely solid, otherwise they may be thrown out by TSA as an unapproved liquid. Alternatively, have your hotel fill up Ziploc bags with ice before leaving. Dump the ice before the TSA checkpoint. Then, ask a restaurant to fill them back up once you’re through security.
  8. If you need to pump while you’re away, but will be gone for an extended period of time or don’t want the hassle of traveling with breast milk, look into a company like Milk Stork that will ship your milk home!

Nurse on, mamas! And happy vaccinated traveling!