Pumping On the Road

Last week, we drove from Quezon City to Calatagan, Batangas, which took us a horrendous five hours because of the traffic in SLEX and Tagaytay.  Fortunately, we were well-supplied with muffins, chips, chocolate, yogurt, and iced tea (that’s what you pack when you travel with three small, cranky children), and my toddler also had her own container of mashed baby food.  I did not even attempt to breastfeed in those five hours; instead, I pumped twice without leaving my position in the passenger seat of our van.

Pumping while traveling is a skill that I’ve mastered over the years, and now I do it instinctively.  It’s relatively easy, as long as you have the proper equipment and a vehicle with a bit of room.  I suggest that you should have the following:

  1.  A portable electric pump that’s either rechargeable, battery-powered, or with an attachment to a powerbank.  This can be either single or double, although I prefer the double because it saves time and it’s better at maintaining one’s supply.  You can also opt for a manual pump if you get a good output from one, and if you don’t mind manipulating it for long periods of time. (I don’t, and I do.)
  2. A hands-free band or bra to help you hold the flanges in place, especially if you’re using a double electric pump. I have a Pumpease that I bought online seven years ago–it still works perfectly well now.
  3. A nursing cover that can protect you from the eyes of passerby.  The apron-type with a wired top hem would probably be sufficient since your back would be covered by your seat, but you can also use the poncho-type so it can double as outerwear on your trip.
  4. Frozen gel packs to keep your milk cool. They last longer than regular ice.
  5. A well-insulated bag for transport of your pump, milk, and gel packs.
  6. A nursing top with convenient cut-outs on both sides so that you don’t have to raise the hem or remove the entire shirt when pumping. Alternatively, you can wear a button-down polo for easy access.
  7. A nursing bra that you can just fold back under your shirt.
  8. Empty bottles or milk bags to put your pumped milk in.

That’s it! With the above accessories, you can just pump inside the car during your journey, for at least 15-20 minutes every 2 hours or so. I prefer doing so in the back seat because there’s more room, you can hide behind the driver’s or passenger’s seat, and you can even drape a jacket or a shawl over the windows on the sides so that you don’t have to wear the cover.  If there’s no room and you have to stay in the passenger seat, though, pumping is still doable.  What I do is that I open the glove compartment and use the lid to rest my pump and powerbank on.

Pumping in the passenger seat on our way to a convention. That pink and green cloth is a poncho-type nursing cover which effectively hides both flanges so that only the tubes are showing.

I also suggest that you keep yourself hydrated (and avoid coffee!) during the drive to keep your supply up. This might mean more rest room breaks, but to me, it’s worth it.

Do you have any hacks that can make pumping during car trips easier?

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