Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Traveling With a Breastfed Baby

Around this time last year, my husband and I were packing innumerable bags and loading the car for our first trip away from home as a family of three.  I toiled over the “to-pack” list and tried to supervise my husband as he stowed our luggage away, while our tiny baby nursed and slept at my breast.

Nursing pillow?  Check.  Nursing cover?  Check.  Breast pump?  Check. Pump parts, bottles, and milk storage bags?  Check, check, check.  Our baggage grew exponentially.

We planned for the four-hour drive to take five hours. Naturally, it took six.  Our baby was three months old, exclusively breastfed, and co-sleeping with us.  As we drove, she became increasingly less tolerant of being anywhere other than at my breast and in my arms, so we stopped often.

Once we arrived at our destination and again throughout our stay, I found myself frequently locked away in a bedroom, pumping breast milk.  At the time, it seemed like the least awkward of all of my baby’s feeding options.  After all, my baby girl’s grandmother wanted desperately to feed the baby a bottle and her grandfather was supportive but still uncomfortable with breastfeeding.  So, I hid and I pumped and I turned what should have been an enjoyable family visit into a week of sequestration and dirty dishes.

What I didn’t know back then was that traveling with your breastfed baby doesn’t have to be so hard.  My breast pump is a fabulous tool that allowed me to work full-time while also providing breast milk for my daughter, but on the road it became yet another complicated baby accessory.  If I really thought about my baby’s needs and my own needs, they were simple: feed the baby.  That didn’t change just because we were away from home.



With hindsight being 20/20, here’s what I would change if I could take that first trip again:

I would leave the pump at home.  Maybe I’d pack a manual pump and one bottle just in case, but bringing my entire arsenal of pumping supplies – and washing them on the road – was a lot of work.  Nursing my baby is much, much simpler than pumping.  There is no time spent pumping, no storage, no toting bottles around, and no dishes to wash.  Nursing on the go is, dare I say, easy.

I would plan for more nursing breaks on the road.  It added undue stress to our trip when we had to stop unexpectedly because the baby was upset and needed to nurse.  We may need to stop more often when traveling with a baby, but we also should have planned for more nursing stops.  That would have helped relieve my anxiety that we were running behind and also would have given our baby the breaks she needed.

I would find other ways to let family share in caring for baby.  I know my daughter’s grandmother really, really wanted to give her a bottle, but instead she might be happy burping the baby after nursing and giving her a bath that evening.  There are so many ways family can bond with a new baby; it doesn’t have to be through a bottle.  And if I leave my pump at home, there really is no choice but to nurse her anyway (wink, wink).

I would put my baby’s need to nurse ahead of others’ comfort levels.  This is the hard one – for me – but I believe it’s also the most important.  Doing this might mean I choose to nurse my baby in a private room, but at least I’m not alone and hooked to a pump at the same time.  It might mean that I choose to nurse using a nursing cover, or it might mean that I choose not to be offended if someone leaves the room when I nurse uncovered. Ultimately, it means that I choose to put my baby’s needs first, even when we’re in someone else’s home.

Once we had that first trip under our belt, it became so much easier.  My confidence level rose knowing I could manage it all away from home.  I learned to lean on my nursing relationship with my baby instead of being inhibited by it, and suddenly things were so much simpler.  I was much less afraid to travel because it became less of an ordeal and more of an experience again.  And I am so happy I’ve been able to share those experiences with my nursing baby.


By Ashley Smith
Used with permission from LLL USA, New Beginnings

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: or become a LLLC Friend





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10 Things Grandparents Can Do to Support Breastfeeding

It’s a good time of year for grandparents to think about their role in supporting their children as they raise the grandchildren.

1) Support your child’s decision to breastfeed regardless of whether you breastfed or whether you feel your own breastfeeding experience was “successful”.  Over the years you will find many ways in which your grandchildren will be raised differently than you raised your own children.  It is a different world with different pressures than you experienced.  The young family is made up of different people from different backgrounds and with different life experiences than you had.  Their choice to do some things differently than you did is not a criticism of your parenting decisions.


2) Encourage mum to be comfortable feeding her baby in your company.  Don’t make her sit in a bedroom or other private place for feeding – it will make her feel left out of the family.  If she wants some privacy or baby needs some quiet time that is also fine.  Your grandbaby’s parents are the best judges of what they and baby need at that moment.

3) Nearly all women are physically capable of breastfeeding but breastfeeding can sometimes feel like a struggle in the early weeks, especially if the new parents aren’t prepared with accurate information.  You can give them a Womanly Art of Breastfeeding as a pre-baby gift and encourage them to attend a La Leche League meeting before baby is born to make connections with their local breastfeeding support system.  Many grandmas enjoy relieving their breastfeeding days by attending a La Leche League meeting with their new grandbaby.

4) If you don’t live close by, the phone or an internet chat can help bridge the distance. Listen fully to any concerns the parents bring up.  Rephrase what you think you heard them say to confirm that you understand what is worrying them.  Before making suggestions, ask them what they think is the best solution to the current issue.  Brainstorming ideas with them can help the parents find a solution that they are comfortable with.  Saying “have you considered …” is more helpful than “you should do…”.  Encourage them to contact a La Leche League Leader for breastfeeding support and information.

5) Be careful not to undermine their decision to breastfeed by suggesting that they give baby a bottle as a solution to a breastfeeding challenge.  Most breastfeeding challenges can be resolved by ensuring that baby is latching correctly and is spending enough time at the breast to empty it fully and effectively.

6) Be okay with spending a lot of time looking at the back of your grandchild’s head in the early weeks.  Breastfed babies spend a lot of time at the breast.  You have many years ahead in which to play with your grandchild and enjoy face-to-face time.


7) There are lots of things you can do with a breastfeeding baby when he/she is not at the breast.  Cuddling time is the one every grandparent wants but burping, bathing and changing diapers also create opportunities for some hands on time.  Taking baby for a walk around the house or outside, can give mum a few minutes to have a shower or a nap.  Ten minutes alone can be a real treat for any new parent.

8) Ask the new parents what would be helpful to them in terms of doing some housework, laundry or making a meal.  Many new parents feel like they should be able to “do it all” so make sure your offer of help doesn’t come across as a criticism of their current housekeeping standards.  Your role as a grandparent is to look after the parents so they can look after the baby.

9) Read up on the parenting and breastfeeding information that your grandbaby’s parents are going to be exposed to.  While breastfeeding has been the norm for humans back to the beginning of human history, our understanding of the science behind breastfeeding has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 20 years.  There are some great articles for grandparents HERE.

10) Remember that while your grandbaby’s parents are growing into their roles as parents, you are also adjusting to a new role and a new relationship with your child and their spouse.  It will take time to figure out what kind of a grandparent you can be.  It may not be the same kind of grandparent that yours were for you or that your parents were for your children and that is okay.  As long as your children and grandchildren know that they are loved for who they are and that you believe in their strength and capabilities, you will be a great grandparent.

La Leche League Leaders are happy to answer breastfeeding questions from mums, dads and grandparents.


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!




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