1. Spatz, Diane L. PhD, RN-BC, FAAN

Article Content

Approximately 4 million women give birth annually in the United States (Martin, Hamilton, & Osterman, 2017). Over 80% of women in the United States initiate breastfeeding (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016); therefore, 3.2 million women annually may have to make travel considerations for breastfeeding. Women may need to travel by air, train, bus, or car with their infant and will need to consider where and how they will manage breastfeeding. Some women will also travel without their infant. They will need to consider where and how they will express their milk and transport that milk back to the infant.


In 2014, only 8% of airports in the United States provided the minimum requirements for a lactation room (Haight & Ortiz, 2014). Since then, more airports have installed Mamava pods (, whereas others have designated space. There is no federal legislation requiring airports to provide lactation accommodations. In May 2017, the Friendly Airports for Mothers Act of 2017 (H.R. 2375) was introduced and referred to the Subcommittee on Aviation ( Prior bills proposed on this issue never came to fruition.


There are currently no accommodations for women traveling by train unless it is an overnight train with a private room. In these situations, mothers would have to find a private space on the train that was not a bathroom. When traveling by vehicle, mothers have to consider the length of the trip, how often she may be able to stop, and if she will be with her child or need to express milk. Car adapters are available for purchase for mothers to plug their breast pump into the vehicle.


For mothers traveling without their infants, extensive preplanning is necessary. Mothers will need to consider that they will have to pack their pump, and all supplies for pumping, labeling, and storing the milk. If mothers are traveling for work, they should call ahead to make sure the place they will be working will have private space where they can express milk (that is not a bathroom). Planes are particularly challenging, as there is no private space available. Mothers should contact the airlines in advance and speak to the flight attendants at the beginning of the flight to find alternatives for pumping other than the toilet (unhygienic).


The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides guidance for traveling with children. Human milk in quantities greater than 100 mL are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag (TSA, n.d.). There is no requirement for a mother to have her child with her to travel with human milk (TSA). Ice packs to keep human milk cool can be carried on (TSA). Women should be encouraged to visit the TSA Web site in advance of travel to review the most current information.


A mother needs to consider how she will store her milk (refrigerated or frozen) and how she will transport her milk home. Shipping milk home is quite expensive; however, there are some companies that pay for these services. One example of a milk shipping company that works with corporations is Milk Stork ( Mothers can also transport milk via ground transport or train while giving consideration the length of time for travel.


As nurses, we have an essential role in teaching new mothers and their families that travel for pleasure or work should not be a reason to stop breastfeeding.




Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Breastfeeding report card: Progressing toward national breastfeeding goals. United States: 2016. Retrieved from [Context Link] Retrieved from


Haight M., Ortiz J. (2014). Airports in the United States: Are they really breastfeeding friendly? Breastfeeding Medicine, 9(10), 515-519. doi:10.1089/bfm.2014.0112 [Context Link]


Martin J. A., Hamilton B. E., Osterman M. J. K. (2017). Births in the United States, 2016. NCHS Data Brief (No. 287) (pp. 1-8). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from [Context Link]


Transportation Security Administration. (n.d.). Traveling with children. Retrieved from