Being a working mom is tough but being a working mom who is breastfeeding is really tough! And what happens when you throw a business trip into the mix?! Anxiety, stress,---you might even start having regrets about returning to work. You might be experiencing a range of emotions and that’s okay because what you are doing is worth it. You are making short-term sacrifices for the health and happiness of you and your baby.
While having to pump when traveling by land, air, or okay---sea, preparation is key to making this trip as stress free as possible for you and your baby. Being stressed out or having a negative attitude before you leave can rub off on your little one.
Decrease Stress Before You Leave
Things to lessen your anxiety beforehand include; taking yoga classes, practicing deep breathing exercises, drinking chamomile tea, diffusing essential oils, and getting a deep-tissue massage.
You Are Not Alone
You may think you are alone but you are definitely not! You are not the first nor the last woman to pump in an airplane restroom or suffer from painful engorgement after being stuck in a meeting that has gone well over the allotted time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a little over one-third of all babies are fed strictly breastmilk. And, nearly 50% of all women with babies under one year of age are working. Now it’s uncertain how many of those working women travel for their jobs but you could conservatively estimate that around 20% of all working women are traveling for work.
Yes, there are companies out there that actually pay for the infant and a nanny to accompany the mother when she is required to go out of town on business, and some companies that allow nursing mothers to opt out of overnight business trips. However, for the majority of working mothers—these aren’t viable options---yet (more and more companies are finding that by giving working mothers choices and flexibility they are gaining loyalty).
The Breast Pump Bag
Bring your breast pump, accessories, extra batteries (or charger), and plenty of breast pads. If you are planning on freezing your breast milk, you can keep it in a separate cooler or if you have a breast pump bag with thermal pockets (see the Kaylaa bag here)—keep it in there and just change out the ice or cooling packs. Having one bag contain everything you need is a lot more efficient and easier than trying to keep track of multiple bags. Look for a breast pump bag that is able to provide protection for the pump itself, has many different pockets for storage, and ideally has thermal pockets to keep breast milk cold.
Extended Business Trip
Now what if you’re going on an extended business trip—more than just a couple nights away from baby? Will you be able to stock up that much breast milk before you leave? How will you get all the breast milk back home? Ship it back home! There are plenty of postal options including overnight—that include controlled refrigeration. You’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your baby is getting the nourishment he needs.
Mirror, Mirror On the Wall….I am a Great Mother After All!
You’ll be more excited than a four year old on Christmas morning when you arrive home and reunite with your little one. You’ll be able to continue breast feeding and sharing in that intimate bonding experience with him. Everything will feel magical and right again in the world….until that 2am feeding when you discover an epic blow out and need to change your baby, his sheets, and mattress cover.
The moment you find out you will be going on a business-related trip—especially if it’s your first trip away from your baby—might feel like your employer just stuck a dagger straight into your heart and twisted it. There are a few things you need to tell yourself. Seriously. You need to say these things out loud, preferably in front of a mirror. Say them and believe them!
- This is only __ nights away. By the time I catch up on my sleep, it will be time to head home.
- This is a good experience for me and my baby.
- It will feel so good to return home to a wiggling, giggling baby, that’s excited to see me!
- Millions of moms go thru this same exact thing…some much more than me.
- The less stressed I am, the better it is for my baby. Happy mom is happy baby.
- My baby is healthy and happy!
- My baby is still going to be getting nutritious breast milk while I’m away.
- Breast pumping while on this work trip will be a piece of cake
If you are going out of town to attend a conference or meeting, try letting the organizers know ahead of time that you are going to need a private room to pump in. They will likely be more than willing to accommodate you—and they’ll appreciate knowing your needs in advance.
If you tell the people at the conference that you are a pumping mom and do it with a bit of humor—it will earn you major brownie points. Coming across as defensive or demanding won’t get you anywhere but probably a bathroom stall to pump in. Sometimes people have trouble discussing breast feeding and will treat it like the elephant in the room. This won’t only help people understand that you aren’t trying to be rude by not socializing during the breaks but it will help people realize how awesome you really are—a business trip and an infant? The word ‘supermom’ comes to mind.
Keep your glass half full. Look at the positives in going on a business trip. Your baby will be able to experience and learn something new, perhaps forming a stronger bond with his dad or close friend/family member that is acting as guardian while you are away. You’ll be able to enjoy adult conversation and possibly sleeping in---even just a few extra minutes? You’ll be back home before you know it and the trip will be over. You will reunite with your little one and resume breast feeding and bonding. Nothing beats looking down at that smiling little face staring up you with those big, beautiful eyes. Nothing.