Traveling With Baby

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Let’s be frank here — it’s not always a  picnic traveling with a baby whether or not you’re breastfeeding.  There are a multitude of things you have to remember to bring, so many you push the limits of suitcases allowed.  And invariably you forget something, and it seems like a disaster.

Two examples: Once we forgot our daughter’s portable crib on the baggage claim conveyer belt as we straggled out of the airport at midnight, ignoring her saying “bed, bed, bed” and pointing to  the luggage. We discovered our error 30 minutes later.

Another time we forgot every single pacifier we owned and which our 2-year old son depended on to fall asleep. We also discovered this at midnight, long after all the stores in the vacation town  were closed.

Of course, we easily survived both events and learned the beauty of being resourceful and spontaneous.

Photo: Bigstock

 

None of that changes that traveling with babies can be stressful. Most parents are consumed with efforts to keep their baby quiet and happy. Even a 10 minute delay on the tarmac can cause nervous sweating on the part of parents — there’s something about thinking that 150+ people are about to be annoyed by your darling that can cause nervous palpitations.

This post is mainly directed towards those with infants. We’ll save toddlers for another day.

First off, getting through TSA. You are allowed to carry breastmilk and

Photo: Bigstock

formula through security and it does not have to be stored in 3-ounce bottles. However there is no refrigeration available, which could be a concern for a long-haul flight. This excellent article from Romper points out that since there are no industry-wide regulations for airlines regarding breastfeeding and/or pumping, you should contact your airline before traveling to make sure you understand your rights.

That is a good segue into the topic of breastfeeding in public. Personally, I am disappointed that this is even a topic of controversy. Of course, as a lactation consultant I am not unbiased. But even putting that aside, I generally believe that it’s your own business how, where or when you choose to breastfeed. As anyone who has tried to soothe a hungry baby knows the only thing that is important is the baby getting fed pronto!

In the US, you are allowed to breastfeed in public situations (which would include an airport). If you are traveling abroad, you will want  to find out your legal rights in whatever country you are traveling to. I would also encourage you to find out what is considered culturally appropriate where you are traveling.

Check with your airline to find out your rights vis a vis breastfeeding, or pumping, on the plane. While I would like to believe your seatmates and flight attendants will be very understanding and supportive, it’s always good to be prepared. Also, if you are pumping, you might also want to check if you can get a cooler bag filled with ice on the plane.

Sometimes, however, mothers would like to find a private place to breastfeed. More and more airports and other public places are installing breastfeeding/pumping pods that accomodate one or two mothers with their babies.

Designed by two mothers, Mamava pods are 4 x 8 with a bench, electrical outlets, USB port, a fold-out  table, a mirror and a locking door. The accompanying app pinpoints the location of the pods. The sites include 35 US airports, 34 sports arenas and convention centers, and 34 companies, including Amazon and Walmart.

The last thing I want  this post to do is dissuade anyone from traveling with their babies. It does take some extra planning time, and some ability to roll with  the punches, but it can also be very enriching. Babies are a great conversation-starter and way to make friends.

So, plan carefully, and bon voyage!

 

The Importance of Skin-to-Skin Contact

Commonly, after the birth of a newborn, the infant is put on her mother’s chest, called skin-to-skin, or kangaroo care. The baby is naked except for a  diaper, and put tummy down on the mother’s bare chest,  with the baby’s  head  turned to the side, neck straight and nose and mouth uncovered  A blanket covers the two of them.

This practice became very important in Brazil in the 1970s, when they had a very high rate of death of premature infants. However, the medical staff noticed infants who  were held by parents much of the day fared much better than their peers. It was the Brazilians who coined the phrase kangaroo care.

The practice has now become a common recommendation, for all babies, preterm or fullterm.

So how does it  benefit the babies?

Researchers have found that skin-to-skin contact:

  • normalizes the baby’s body temperature (in fact the mother’s temp rises to warm a cold baby and drops to cool an overwarm baby)
  • stabilizes the infant’s respiration and oxygenation
  • increases glucose levels, thus reducing the risk of hypoglycemia
  • regulates blood pressure
  • reduces stress hormones in mother and baby
  • decreases crying
  • encourages the baby into a quiet-alert state, which is optimal for successful feeding

And, for those of you who are breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact has been shown to stimulate milk production in the  early days.  How?

Last post introduced the topic of the hormone oxytocin and the maternal

instinct (albeit the subject was worms but the same link between oxytocin and the maternal instinct exists in humans).

Oxytocin is also the hormone that stimulates milk let-down.  The baby sucking releases prolactin,  the hormone that regulates milk production. So skin-to-skin increases the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone”, both of which decrease stress, which encourages babies quiet-alert state,  which improves baby’s ability to breastfeed, which encourages the release of prolactin, which increases the mother’s milk supply.

Skin-to-skin contact with infants and fathers also produces many of the same benefits.

Just remember, whoever is holding the baby, skin-to-skin should be awake and make sure the baby’s head is turned to the side, with  the neck straight and nose and mouth uncovered.