Last update May 21, 2021
Very Low Risk
There is no medical reason that prevents breastfeeding or expressing breast milk during air travel
Many countries protect breastfeeding in public, including on public transport. Most airlines authorize breastfeeding on their planes, including during takeoff and landing, as long as the baby is well restrained by its own or additional seat belt. It is advisable to previously consult the breastfeeding policy of the countries visited, and of the airports and airlines that will be used on the trip (Curry 2019).
It is advisable to breastfeed on demand during the trip, especially during takeoff and landing to alleviate the discomfort of the baby caused by decompression of the middle ear (CDC 2020, Mayo Clinic 2020, Curry 2019, Dieste 2019, Consumer 2013).
It is advisable to purchase airline tickets in advance to be able to choose more comfortable seats for breastfeeding (LLLI 2018, Consumer 2013), wear clothes that are comfortable to breastfeed in narrow places with mobility difficulties (Curry 2019, Dieste 2019, LLLI 2018) and plan to bring bottled water to stay well hydrated while breastfeeding (Curry 2019).
Breastfeeding in the airplane bathroom is not recommended because it is narrow and unsanitary (Curry 2019).
If the nursing mother is traveling without her baby and must express breast milk, the breast pump is considered carry-on baggage that can be carried on board, just like a laptop or a handbag (CDC 2020). It should be carried in a separate bag, if possible with the labels that explain what it is, to avoid unnecessary delays at the airport controls.
Depending on the length of the flight, the expressed breast milk will be stored in the mother’s cooler or in the plane’s freezer if possible (Curry 2019).
Expressed breast milk does not usually have the quantity limitations (100 ml) of the rest of the liquids to be transported (CDC 2020, TSA 2020), and can be carried in containers of up to 2 liters in the UK, Canada, USA and some EU countries, and also it is not necessary to be accompanied by the baby (LLL 2020). You must consult the regulations of each country on the maximum amount of milk that can be carried in containers and declare it as breast milk and carry it in a bag separate from the rest of the liquids.
If you travel with a breast pump or bags of expressed milk, it is advisable to go to the airport with more time than normally advisable to pass the security controls.
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.
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e-lactancia is a resource recommended by Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine - 2006 of United States of America
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