When I first decided I wanted to go to BlogHer12, I was still pregnant with Aubrey. I knew that I would be gone for a large chunk of time, but didn’t know if I would still be nursing her at that point. I realized she’d be about 9 months and didn’t know what to expect. After she was born, and as months passed, I realized I most likely would still be nursing, and started working on my frozen supply of milk. Starting early was a great way to lessen the stress of making sure there was enough to feed her while I was gone. Since I had access to a deep freeze freezer, I knew the milk would be good for a year so starting 8 months before the BlogHer trip, the milk would still be good.
Easier said than done, right? Plan, plan, plan. By working a little bit at a time to freeze enough ounces for 1 bottle here and there, before you know it you’ll have enough to feed your little one while you’re gone. You’ll have enough anxiety once you board that plane (or hop on the train) so try to avoid adding this to the list of worries!
Bring Both Pumps
If you only have an electric pump at home, I would highly suggest purchasing an inexpensive manual pump for the plane rides. If you only use manual hand pumps from time to time, and don’t have an electric, you’ll do great! Although your hand might cramp up. I have both types of pumps and brought the manual one for the plane rides and boy, did that come in handy. To give you an idea of how long it would have been between sessions (if I only planned to use the electric), I pumped when I woke up (2:30am) with the electric pump, pumped when our flight was in the air (departed at 7:ooam and did it as soon as I could – I was very uncomfortable), pumped before we descended (about 4.5 hours later), and didn’t arrive to our hotel room for another 3 hours after that (equivalent to 4pm pacific time). There would have been no way I would have 14 hours without anything. I have read a lot of stories of women pumping in the bathroom or in the middle of the airport with the outlet they were able to find, and I knew I would not be able to relax enough to do it.
I brought my nursing cape to use on the plane. Not sure anyone really knew what I was doing – except when I walked down the aisle to dump out the milk. Guess they figured it out then!
Dump or Donate
Now, this topic will become a bit controversial – but like everything – do what makes you feel comfortable. I was a member of a FaceBook group of women going to BlogHer and someone had posted that she had found a group in NYC that would be accepting donations of pumped milk if you so inclined to provide. I chose not to donate my milk, which was probably a good idea since most of the day I had a mild buzz going on between all the parties and free booze they were passing out. But keep your ear to the ground if you want to give. There are groups out there that will accept the milk (and I believe they test it and all that fun stuff before passing it along).
On one of the floors by the conference, there was a lactation room for nursing moms to use to either nurse their baby they brought with them, or to pump. I didn’t utilize this as I just took time out a few times a day to go up to the room to relax and pump. If we were in a neighboring hotel, you bet your bottom dollar I would have utilized this as much as possible. I do not like the feeling of engorgement!
My roommate was one of my best friends, Maria, and she was completely ok with my pumping session breaks. I think she enjoyed the time to relax in our room as well. But I did take up a tiny bit of space with my pump parts (the bottles, breast shields, and valves) in the bathroom as their dried during uses. And hopefully your roomies aren’t squeamish about you sitting around with your girls hanging out. 🙂
One last thing – and I talked to another nursing mom at one of the parties about this – the plane ride did some serious weirdness to my breasts and it took a day or so for them to go back to normal. I felt more engorged than ever, with “rocks” forming in them. I tried pumping a bit more often to relieve it, and eventually it helped. So it’s possible this might happen to you. Don’t freak, just pump some more!