Traveling by plane over the holidays often gets new moms in a tizzy. What if your baby cries the entire time? What if she refuses to nurse? What if you forget something? Sure, any of these things could happen but if you prepare and keep a positive attitude, chances are things will go better than expected. The good news is that breastfeeding on a plane is probably easier than you think and may actually help resolve some of your fears. Let’s take a look…
Know Your Rights
Most airlines have a welcoming breastfeeding policy whether you do it openly or discreetly. So start off by knowing that breastfeeding on a plane is your right. When your baby needs to eat, you should breastfeed and not think twice about it. Should you have any problems, ask to speak to the head flight attendant.
Dress for Success
Dress comfortably and for easy breastfeeding access so you can get to the task with minimal effort. A nursing bra with easy one-handed clasps and a button down blouse is a great choice. Or try a nursing tank top that you can layer under just about anything.
If you are concerned about looky-loos, a nursing cover is a simple solution. Our stylish nursing cover doubles as a fashion scarf so you can wear it around your neck until you’re ready to breastfeed.
Take-off and Landing
One of the biggest concerns for new moms is the changing air pressure in the cabin, especially during take off and landing. We know to yawn, pinch and blow out through our noses or chew gum to relieve the pressure. You can help your baby do the same by breastfeeding during take-off and landing. The sucking and swallowing motion will help protect her delicate ears. Plus, both of these times are the loudest portion of the flight so a little extra comfort and closeness will help your baby feel at ease.
Luckily you can pack light for breastfeeding on a plane. If you’re used to having a pillow for your baby during breastfeeding, use a neck pillow you may be bringing anyways or ask for an airline pillow. Be sure to have a burp cloth handy, as well as nursing pads, if necessary. Of course you’ll want a few engaging toys to distract your baby in flight, diapers and wipes, and possibly a change of clothes for emergencies.
Selecting Your Seat
It’s tempting to select a window seat to be inconspicuous while breastfeeding on a plane. Unless your baby is very small, an aisle seat will give you more space. Think about your baby’s legs and your arms that may need to dangle into the aisle. If you’re traveling with a companion, having him or her in the middle seat is great so your baby can spill in that direction when feeding on the opposite breast. Babies under two do not need their own seats or airline tickets but if you want the extra space you can certainly purchase one.
Other In-Flight Breastfeeding Tips
Once the fasten seat belt sign is off, ask the flight crew if you may breastfeed in the gallery if you feel your baby needs a change of scenery or wants to be rocked or bounced. Respect their rules, however.
Consider wearing your baby for sleep times. A cradle sling will keep your baby close, warm and sheltered from light. Be sure your baby can breathe comfortably in this position.
Try to select the shortest and most direct flight to your destination. It may cost more but your sanity and your baby’s happiness is priceless, right?
Wear your best smile. It’s not easy traveling with an infant but do your best to stay positive. If someone hassles you about breastfeeding on a plane, gives you dirty looks or asks you personal questions, try not to cause a scene. Rather, smile and nod and feel great about the wonderful gift you’re giving your baby.
Sources: PhD in Parenting and Walking on Travels