By BMSG Editorial Team
Mother’s Sharing is a monthly column where we hear the stories of breastfeeding mothers and their individual, unique experiences. This month, we speak with Eleanor Ho, a regular contributor on our Facebook group, on how she prepares sufficiently to pack her expressed breastmilk when she is traveling for work.
I’m a mother to a three-and-a-half year old girl and a one-and-a-half year old boy. I work as an improvement engineer in the oil and gas industry, mainly to support scheduling applications in the manufacturing plant. I travel approximately one to two times yearly for network meetings.
Breastfeeding While Traveling – A Mother’s Milestone
As a first time mum, it was daunting initially to learn how to breastfeed, let alone to continue breastfeeding while traveling. I had many encouraging conversations with other mums and had read positive experiences from mothers who shared their stories on the BMSG Facebook group. Sharing my story is a way for me to pay it forward.Equipped with useful tips and ample preparation, breastfeeding while travelling can be more manageable than one would expect and I consider being able to accomplish it as a significant milestone in my breastfeeding journey. As commented once by a BMSG counsellor on the group, bringing back frozen breastmilk is the best souvenir that a mother can bring home with her after a period of traveling without her children.
I had breastfed my elder child for about 15 months until she self-weaned as I had then became pregnant with my second child. I am currently still breastfeeding my 2nd baby who just turned 20 months.
One memorable moment I can recall is my first business trip where I had to pump overseas for the first time. With no prior experience, I had to do trial and error to make sure my frozen breastmilk returned to Singapore safe and sound, and ,most importantly, still frozen. Returning home with a cooler box of frozen breastmilk felt like an achievement unlocked. I was also very relieved that my baby still remembered to latch when I returned home. Doing this also made me feel empowered that I was still able to fulfil my mummy duties despite being away from home.
My employer has been rather supportive of my intent to breastfeed. My breastfeeding colleagues and I are fortunate that there are private nursing rooms available onsite for our use. My other colleagues will also help to book nursing rooms on my behalf whenever I visit an associate office and need to pump. Without their support and understanding, I believe I would have given up on breastfeeding much earlier than I had planned to.
Advice for Other Mums
I would say being prepared would ease the anxiety towards pumping while travelling. Minor but important logistical preparations might seem unnecessary but things like prior communication with the hotel on your freezing requirements will go a long way in easing your worries. It will also prevent any surprises or disappointments, and there would be ample time to make alternative preparation and arragements.
A checklist* will be most useful to help mums bring the essentials.
Lastly, practice makes perfect too! With more travelling experiences, you will become more proficient at breastfeeding while pumping, and be better prepared with time.
Eleanor has kindly put together the following in a file you can access here. The file contains a checklist, useful links and labels that mums can use to prepare for their trips. Samples of the documents are shown below:
* Checklist for a Long Flight
Luggage & Cooler Box Labels
Useful links of Eleanor’s sharing on the BMSG Facebook Group (you will need to be a group member before being able to view):
Note: All documents are courtesy and credits to Eleanor Ho. Reproduced with permission.
Interested in more pumping stories? Read articles we have published previously:
- Sending Milk Back Home: Felirose’s Story
- Breastpumps: A Useful Tool, Not a Silver Bullet
- When Handexpressing Trumps Breastmilk
- Never Say Never – Story of an EP Mum (Andrea Salleh’s Story)