4 Tips for comfortably nursing on an airplane

By Carrie Bruno

September 20, 2018

Carrie is the founder of The Mama Coach. She is a RN, IBCLC lactation consultant, sleep consultant and mama of two little guys. She leads the North American team of Mama Coaches and is committed to making motherhood easier.

 

Flying with a young baby can be challenging for a new mom. Babies seem to automatically come with an extra 17 pieces of luggage whether you’re travelling for 24 hours or 24 days. And while there truly are not enough hours in a day to prepare for travelling with a child, planning for nursing on the airplane can relieve a lot of anxiety for moms who are worried about a long flight.

Nurse from only one side

Sitting in a small space often doesn’t leave much room for a mama to feel comfortable while nursing her baby. The arm rests can be cumbersome, there may be turbulence and Joe Business-Man beside you may not appreciate your child’s feet in their coffee. Nursing from one side while you are on a short flight can help with the awkward arrangements of the tiny living space. Depending on where you are sitting, try to nurse baby from the side that would have his head closest to your seat mate. Plan ahead and feed baby from the other side in the airport before you get on the flight so you’re not engorged on the airplane, and then feed only from the opposite breast while flying.

Nurse baby at an angle

While you can’t always nurse from one side only, you can angle yourself in small seats so that baby (and you) are more comfortable. If you are on an aisle seat or a window seat, move your body so that you are either facing the aisle or the window and resting on the edge of the seat. This allows for more space and provides privacy if you are sitting next to another passenger. This is not recommended when your seat belt is required.

Avoid feeding in the restroom

Listen up mamas, you have nothing to be ashamed of when you’re nursing your baby in public. Including on an airplane. No one should make you feel like feeding your baby needs to be covered up or hidden while they are eating. Public restrooms harbour extensive amounts of bacteria and viruses and in addition to this, nursing your baby in an airplane restroom can be dangerous.

Turbulence can not be predicted at times, and while the seatbelt sign may be off, you are a long way from your seat if you run in to trouble. Losing your balance on a toilet seat is not ideal for anyone, much less a breastfeeding mama and baby. Furthermore, getting in to the restroom is also more difficult for staff and would delay care if an accident did occur.

Take off and landing

Your baby will experience a shift in inner ear balance when you are taking off and landing. Unfortunately, these tiny humans can only tell us that they are uncomfortable by crying during these times. Try to be patient with your baby and ignore the occasional individual who will have parenting advice for you. Most people remember what it was like for them when they were flying with young kids and will empathize.

Nursing your baby during take off and landing can be beneficial and help with balancing their ears. Moving their jaw will help “unplug” their ears and make this event more comfortable for them.

Flying can be very stressful for a new parent. Remember that most people are not bothered by a crying baby, or by you nursing your baby on an airplane. The airplane is loud, which provides excellent white noise, and most people wear headphones as well. Most airlines are very accommodating to mothers as well and will give you more space if it is available and you ask for what you need.

You got this, mama!

 

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