10 Tips for Breastfeeding on Vacation: Guest Post From The Badass Breastfeeder
It’s never a bad time to take a vacation with the kids when you are a breastfeeding mom. Your baby’s food is always fresh, nutritious and easy to transport! Breastfeeding has been a wonderful way for me to keep my children feeling safe and secure while we are off exploring new things. Children sometimes get overwhelmed and exhausted while on vacation, however, breastfeeding can be your constant life preserver keeping everyone afloat and connected. It’s true, babies and small children can be a handful to travel with, but let’s face it, every day is a “trip” (see what I did there?) with kids, so why not get started with creating those family memories? So, stop stalling, take advantage of some time off and pack your bags. We’re hitting road!
- Rest stops are there for a reason. My family is big on road trips. We love taking to the open road and being our own tour guides. There are no schedules to stick to, no cranky passengers, and no sitting on a runway. Once my kids were over the “IHATETHISBLOODYCARSEAT” stage, it became our preferred method of travel. The only routine you need to keep in mind is your baby’s feeding routine. Be sure to pull off the road and nurse your little one whenever you normally would at home. This will help keep your supply up, keep you from getting engorged, and it will keep baby feeling safe and secure while experiencing new things. Take advantage of rest stops with restaurants to keep yourself hydrated and well fed. There are rest stops lining the highways from east to west and north to south. Stop whenever it’s time to nurse so that you and baby can get comfortable and your baby can take a break from the car seat. Sit on all the benches, sprawl out on the grass, or put baby in a carrier so that you can walk around and stretch your legs.
- Breastfeeding in the Skies and on the Tracks. I hear of nervous breastfeeding moms that fear they will be one of the ones in those news stories that’s bullied by a flight attendant or train conductor. It’s true, airlines and train companies have differing official policies on breastfeeding, and some don’t have any official policy at all. But hear me good, you have a human and legal right to breastfeed your child whenever and wherever you are. When these stories pop up, it usually turns out to be an ignorant employee trying to find an easy way out of dealing with an uptight passenger who shudders at the sight of side boob. I’ve flown a bunch of times without a single odd look my way. That doesn’t mean these things don’t happen, they do. But you must stand your ground for yourself, your child, and every other breastfeeding mother here and in the future. A smile and “I’m quite comfortable right here like this, thank you. I’ve done nothing wrong.” should be the end of it.
- Know your rights. Check out the state and federal breastfeeding laws. Knowing that your right to breastfeed anywhere and everywhere (except for Idaho) is protected by law is a major factor in gaining that confidence to whip it out, whether you’re sipping vino in California or gazing out at New York City from the top of the Empire State Building. Breastfeeding laws have a million miles to go in this country to be sufficient for the protection we need and deserve, but like I said, you have a human right to breastfeed your baby whenever and wherever she needs or wants it. Some people confuse the lack of sufficient protection under the law for breastfeeding to mean that breastfeeding is actually illegal in some states. Not true. Breastfeeding is legal almost everywhere. If you are harassed, there are varying degrees of protection from law enforcement and legal action you can take against your harasser, but please, feed your baby. Whenever I travel to a new state, I print out the laws at the link above for that state and stick it in my wallet. I will breastfeed whenever and wherever and however I want, no matter what anyone says to me. However, I imagine that if anyone ever did say something to me, it would feel mighty good to pull it out and recite the laws from the very state that person lives and votes in.
- Pack snacks like you are climbing Everest. Nothing throws off a mom’s game like being hungry and thirsty. And older children don’t go more than 10 minutes without needing a snack. So, to avoid the epic meltdown in front of Mona Lisa, pack those granola bars, fruits, veggies, water and whatever else you like to chomp on. You need to stay hydrated and well fed. But the cool thing is, you only need to latch baby on to be sure they are well nourished!
- Report incidents of breastfeeding harassment. The chances of you being harassed for breastfeeding while on vacation are slim, but for the sake of gaining that confidence to breastfeed while soaking up the Florida sun, you should know a few things. The Best for Babes foundation has a hotline that you can call to report incidents of breastfeeding harassment. If it happens to you, call 1-855-NIP-FREE and leave a message about what happened. Then, try to enjoy your vacation. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where breastfeeding is not always seen as normal and natural. It’s a long road to right these wrongs so don’t feel like you need to bail on the few days you have to enjoy yourself by catching the next flight home and calling NBC. When you are able to get to a computer, consider writing to the head of the business where you were when an incident occurred. Then, consider writing to the media, to me, and to all breastfeeding advocates to get your story going viral on social media. Change is happening and we can keep this momentum going by putting pressure on businesses to follow the law and support families.
- Take a lot of photos. I often to hear from moms that they regret not taking more photos of themselves breastfeeding. In this day and age, when everyone has a phone in their hand, there is no excuse to not snap that NIP pic. Call on your partner if your hands are full. When you are touring the world, you are guaranteed to get some memorable images! Whether you share them publically is up to you, but take them anyway.
- Breastfeeding is a human right. Sometimes we get caught up in discussing legal rights, and rightfully so because the laws need to be better, but breastfeeding is first and foremost a human right. You have a human right to nourish your child with your breast whenever, wherever, and however you see fit. You are never doing anything wrong when you are breastfeeding your child, no matter where you are in the world. By breastfeeding on demand and going about your normal business, you are doing a major part to normalize breastfeeding for other adults, children, and future mothers and children. Do whatever it is you need to do to make yourself more comfortable. But always know that you are in the right.
- To cover is up to you. Never let anyone tell that you need to use a cover or move to another location. Where and how you breastfeed is up to you only. No one else. If you feel more comfortable with a cover, then by all means use one. If you don’t want to use a cover, then don’t use one. If you prefer a private area, then find one. If you prefer to plop down in the middle of a crowded square, then go for it. The decision about how to breastfeed your child with your body is your decision and yours only.
- Extended family. Many vacations involve visiting or traveling with extended family. Sometimes our families aren’t as supportive of our decision to breastfeed as they should be. Be firm and clear about your expectations and plans if you feel there might be conflict. You want to be able to have fun on your vacation! Feel free to tell your family that you will be breastfeeding on demand whenever and wherever you are. If they want to visit with you and your child, then they need to accept this or you don’t need to waste time and energy with them. Traveling with children can be stressful enough, you need nothing but support and help from those around you.
- Have fun! This is your vacation; this is a time to be with your family and this is a time to relax. Babies and children can sense when you are stressed, so the more you are enjoying yourself, the more at ease your baby will be.
Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder
Photos shared by badass breastfeeders breastfeeding all over the world: