The greatest worry we had when we were overseas recently was how I could continue to express breastmilk for Julien’s consumption. As I am currently expressing BM, I had to continue doing so while I was overseas to ensure the supply didn’t cease.
Initially, I thought of just expressing and junking the expressed breastmilk (EBM) while I was overseas. But after doing some research, I realized that many lactating moms who went overseas managed to store and transport their EBM safely back home for their babies. And that was what I intended to do! It would break my heart to dispose of all my EBM for those 6 days!
So this post is written to share my experience.
Things To Bring Overseas
1. Lactation Pump
If you are afraid your pump might fail you during the trip, bring along a manual pump.
For electrical pumps, do bring along a travel adapter.
2. STORAGE BAGS
3. STERILIZING TABLETS
4. LARGE CONTAINER
This is needed to contain the 2.3 litres of water required for sterilizing your pump parts.
6. PORTABLE MILK COOLER BAGS
Mini carrier, about $50 from Pigeon.
Larger bag (4 litres), $70+ from Fridge-to-go.
7. WASHING EQUIPMENT
This helps to keep the supply going since you are probably not going to pump every 3-4 hourly!
Before I checked into the hotel, I informed the staff at the reception that I would be expressing breast milk and I needed to store the bags in a really solid freezer, preferably the one used by the restaurant.
In the first hotel, I didn’t insist to use the kitchen freezer hence the hotel concierge kept the milk bags in the staff’s refrigerator with a small, shared freezer compartment. As a result, my EBM did not freeze properly and I had to dispose many bags at the end of my stay there. Really heart breaking…. :(
For the second hotel, I insisted and the staff kindly made the necessary arrangements for me. They tied a baggage tag to my fridge-to-go bag and kept it in the restaurant kitchen’s deep chest freezer. They handed me a duplicate baggage tag so that I could pass to the other staff on duty to help store my bags of EBM over the next couple of days.
The first thing I did when I reached the hotel room was to pour about 2.3 litres of mineral water in my large container, then drop the sterilizing tablet and pump parts in.
For pigeon tablets, you need to soak the parts in the water for at least half an hour before using them. And, you could use the container of sterilizing water for 24 hours before changing the water. This is very convenient because after washing my pump parts, I could just dump them into the container of water till the next time I used the pump. Also, the pump parts need not be rinsed with water after sterilizing.
BTW, I wanted to play safe by using mineral water for sterilizing because in Thailand, tap water is not potable.
As mentioned earlier, I obviously did not express every 3-4 hourly. Instead, I expressed every 5-7 hourly in my hotel room since I was out most of the time.
After each session, I would store the EBM in a milk storage bag. I used the marker to mark on the bag the volume pumped as well as the date and time of the pump session.
It would be troublesome to pass the bag of EBM to the hotel staff after each pump session. So I stored the bags in the mini refrigerator in my room and only brought them down to the reception/kitchen after I had accumulated 2-3 milk bags.
Since I had stated the timings and dates on the bags, I ensured the bags were not left for more than 24 hours in the refrigerator.
TRANSPORTING EBM BACK ON THE PLANE
Finally the day of departure came. The most important and difficult task of the trip was to ensure the EBM remains frozen throughout the entire time it leaves the hotel, travels to the airport, on the plane, on the way home from the airport… till it reaches home!
Thank God the entire journey from the hotel in Thailand to home in SG took only about 5 hours. We carefully packed the 21 packs of EBM in neat layers alternating with special cooling blocks provided in the fridge-to-go bag.
We also got a bag of ice from the kind hotel staff to add to the fridge-to-go bag…just in case.
After doing our very best, we kept our fingers crossed as we checked in our fridge-to-go bag. We didn’t want to risk hand-carrying the EBM and getting stopped at the security checks! According to my very knowledgeable hubby, he had read somewhere before that the temperature in the aircraft cargo cum luggage holding areas is about 7 degree celsius… something like that… so, it shouldn’t be too bad an idea to check in our fridge-to-go-bag.
When we reached home,the first thing we checked was not whether our shopping bags were intact but we were frantically checking on the condition of all the frozen milk bags
Are they SAFE and SOUND and still COMPLETELY FROZEN?!
The milk bags were still very frozen. Even the ice pack almost didn’t melt at all!
So, I am very happy to say we had successfully expressed, stored and transported EBM back for my little baby’s consumption. And of course, to add on to the burgeoning collection in our freezer.
To date, Julien had already consumed some of these EBM and yup, no tummyache, no trouble. :)
Hope this info helps for those mummies who intend to travel!