Special Concerns for International Travel While Nursing

Breastfeeding gives babies the most nutritional start in life, as well as provides them with important protection against certain infections. However, traveling internationally while nursing can present challenges. Outlined below is information breastfeeding moms should consider when traveling.

For women who are breastfeeding only, there is no concern about sterilizing bottles or the availability of clean water. Nursing women may be immunized for protection against disease, depending on their itinerary. However, there may be certain diseases, such as yellow fever, measles, and meningococcal meningitis, which may be a threat to infants who cannot be immunized at birth, as an infant would not gain protection against these infections through breastfeeding. It is important to discuss this with both your physician and your baby’s pediatrician before you travel.

For women who are supplementing breastfeeding with formula, powdered formula prepared with boiled water is the best solution. You may also want to pack a supply of prepared infant formula in cans or ready-to-feed bottles for emergencies. The Transportation Security Administration allows parents to bring bottled breast milk, prepared formula, or soft baby foods in carryon luggage, as long as they declare these items at security checkpoints.

Another benefit of breastfeeding is that it helps lower the incidence of traveler's diarrhea in infants. However, if you should develop traveler's diarrhea, increase your fluid intake, and continue to nurse your infant.

It is important for nursing mothers to watch their eating and sleeping patterns, as well as their stress levels which will affect their milk output. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol and caffeine, as well as exposure to tobacco smoke.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jovino, Louise DO

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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