Wednesday, September 17, 2014

MiM Mail: Getting the milk home

Hi MiM,

Avid follower of five years (you got me through training...almost! Last year of fellowship. Thank you!).

Very concrete question:
I have to leave my nursing nine month old for two days and two nights for a conference (he is currently seven months old and I am anxious about this process). I will have to bring my pump, but I need some suggestions about getting the milk home. Carry on airplane with ice (does this entail a bigger ordeal since I won't have an infant with me)? Mail with dry ice? What has worked for fellow MiMs? I really appreciate your advice. I'm worried about the separation and channelling my anxiety into figuring out this milk transportation situation!

Dedicated MiM follower


  1. So my son was 3 months old when I started traveling for residency interviews ranging from overnight to up to a week. I continued to pump and breastfeed throughout the interview season and basically the short answer is yes you can bring pumped breast milk onto the plane. Frozen milk gets less scrutiny but you are bound to have some non-frozen ones, which they may or may not do additional testing on. I usually don't freeze unless I'm gone for more than 3 days at a time. Since I wasn't able to find much info, I actually wrote a few blog posts so that someone may find it helpful one day:

    Pumping When Traveling by Air

    Hope this helps and good luck!

  2. BTDT. TSA is pretty cool with breastmilk - it is a special situation. I have carried breastmilk with ice packs without problem, although my limiting factor was having enough space to carry lots of it home with me. One time, I did send it on dry ice by Fedex. This turned out to be a comical experience that I would never choose to do again (son was 7 weeks old at the time and I wanted to stockpile the freezer prior to returning to work at 12 weeks otherwise would have pumped and dumped. I was overproducing at the time and in the span of 2 days, pumped a metric ton). Ended up writing about it in Working Mother magazine in their "LoL" section:

    For your situation, I would carry home with ice packs in a cooler or refrigerated bag. Should be fine! Good luck.

  3. TSA opened up all my milk bottles to inspect and then ran them through some kind of machine. I would just pump and dump, especially if there is a good stash of milk in the freezer at home. The hassle is just not worth it. I admire your dedication!

  4. Totally manageable amount of milk to carry on back home. Just bring a cooler and have the hotel freeze your ice packs. Tsa opened a bottle and waved some sort of pH paper over my milk. They even sanitized their hands and changed gloves on my request. Don't dump that gold!

  5. Most moms I know haven't had a problem, but it doesn't hurt to come equipped with a printout of their policy on hand just in case- linked below. Breastmilk is considered a medically necessary liquid. You just have to announce you have it. Save that liquid gold, you worked hard for it (and maybe get there a little early), but they are supposed to not make a big deal of it.

  6. I put it in a little lunchbox cooler with ice packs and to keep it as clean as possible from TSA hands, pump into those breastmilk bags and then double bag it. They will touch the outer bag but not open it, then when you get home you can just take your untouched liquid gold out of the second bag and its clean.


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