Monday, September 16, 2013

Notes for the Nomad Nurser

"So, you're going to quit nursing before your first trip, right?" my colleague asked, her face certain that my answer was to be yes given the nuances of what it takes to lug the ol' pump, deal with airport security, smuggle milk between the borders and find a way to duck out of a room of 50 people you're responsible for while trying to conduct a meeting. Instead I replied with:


Though it's far from a science, if you're a required nomad nurser like myself, here are a few tips that may be helpful:

1. Request a refrigerator in your room from the hotel with your reservation: generally it's a $25 to $50 charge and completely worth it rather than asking the kitchen staff to save you a spot in their fridge. It saves you time from hunting down a hotel manager and the awkward walk back into the space where Marriott prepares their food. Some really rockin' workplaces will even cover this charge for you as part of your travel duties to the company.

2. Bring a family member or friend: this is only for the super duper lucky/blessed/spoiled! Particularly if you are going to go more than two days and your ol' friend the Medela is only going to do 70% of the work your baby does, it's a treat to have your child around to take on the duty, even if it is only once or twice a day. This will help avoid plugs and infections, plus you'll get to sneak in some time with your wee one on the road.

3. Plan, plan, plan: make your pumping schedule and stick to it, asking for help from others if needed. For example, in my job as a facilitator, I've asked two trusted clients to take over the room during the two 15-30 minute periods where needed and made this during times where I generally won't be missed. Know where you're going to pump and what you're going to do with the milk afterward so it can be a quick and seamless process. Try to keep to your schedule as you would at home or work. For example, this is about every three hours for me with the ability to push to five without too much detriment to my supply. Also, have a plan if your plane is delayed or late and work it accordingly (carry on your pump or have a hand held as backup!)

4. Prepare for TSA to make you blush: despite millions of women lugging the big black bag around and through x-ray machines, you will still get stopped and searched or perhaps even shouted at over a line of passengers of "WHAT EXACTLY IS THIS BOMB LIKE MACHINE YOU'RE TRYING TO GET THROUGH LADY." I suggest creating your witty responses now or challenging them to sample the product they are so concerned about. Know the airport rules, and if you're taking the white stuff across the border, I highly recommend keeping it on ice with you. TSA agents will open up the storage devices and run little strips over the milk to ensure it doesn't contain...heroin or something? Bombs? Who knows. They are required to wear gloves and feel free to watch them like a fox. Some passengers may gaggle, so prepare awkward for comments for them too. Might as well make this fun.

5. Pack your cleaning supplies: bring your bottle brush and some dishwashing liquid or wipes for your particular pump parts if available. Hotels generally don't have microwaves in rooms anymore, so plan for some handwashing. If you're in a super rush between pump sessions, do a quick rinse and place the parts in your mini fridge to help ward off the milk spoiling in your absence until you can get to them.

6. Pump...anywhere: ensure you're backup battery is charged and prepare to pump just about anywhere. Closets, bathrooms, wouldn't be the first momma and it makes for great comparison stories among friends.

7. Nurse up and down: if baby is with you, find a window seat and tuck away and nurse him on the ascend and descend to help their little ears.

8. Have a backup plan: traveling and nursing is stressful enough, so have a backup plan. Whether it's as extreme as heading home when a snafu occurs or you have formula on hand for your caregiver, having a plan B gives you an inkling of peace.

9. Eat, drink and be merry: stay hydrated and snack just like you would as a nursing momma at home. This is easy to forget on the road, so pack accordingly or hit the hotel/airport snack station often.

10. Don't forget your pads: avoid the super soaker and grab your Johnsons so a wet blouse isn't the scene of your board meeting, but your strategy and agenda as it was planned.

11. Find the perfect nursing bag: if you're anything like me, you get tired of that boring ol' black nylon bag anyway and figure if you're going to all these efforts, the damn thing should at least be cute, so find a tote that works for you. In it, supply everything you'll need for nursing, including: storage containers or bags, cleaning supplies, the pump itself and extra parts, hands-free bra, a snack for Mom and cold storage and sanitizing wipes. Use this daily on your trek to work too!
My current "perfect bag" by Vera Bradley

The supplies: pump, wipes, extra storage, frozen storage,
bottle brush, sanitizing wipes and dishwashing soap 

And don't forget, if anyone gives you sh*t on this journey, just record their antics and put it on'll get all the support you need from other nomad nursers.

Safe travels and happy Moomy duties!

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