As a mountain guide, park ranger, or avid hiker that’s also a mom you may face the challenge of needing to breast pump on the trail to continue breastfeeding while avoiding painful issues such as engorgement, blocked ducts, or embarrassing leaks.
At first, the idea of having your breast pump out in nature may seem incredibly inconvenient. It’s an extra piece of equipment to place in your pack, not to mention actually having to pump without much privacy. But don’t let this stop you from getting back out in the wild, it’s easy to discreetly pump on the trails.
How To Breast Pump In Nature
Pack The Right Breast Pump
Pick your breast pump carefully before embarking on your journey, not all are created the same. Consider getting an electric travel pump. Generally, they are smaller, quieter, and battery operated. ‘Quieter’ is one of the keywords here, for privacy.
Check if your pump has a rechargeable battery pack or if its battery operated, then make sure to bring enough juice to power it for the entire trip. Fully charge the battery before leaving and consider purchasing a backup. Most battery-operated pumps last for about a day. You can also purchase a pump with a DC power converter to power/charge it with the cigarette lighter in your car.
It’s great to have a back-up pump in the event of an emergency. If your electric pump breaks or loses charge you can use your trusty manual pump. They’re silent, hand powered, and require no source of energy. However, they do take much longer than electric pumps to express milk.
If all else fails, get hands on. You can manually express milk by massaging your breasts. It’s an all-natural solution if you find yourself stuck without a pump.
Dress For Success and Stay Energized
When it comes to hiking you want to wear functional, yet comfortable attire. You should dress the same for breast pumping while hiking. If you need to be hands-free, wear a nursing bra. They offer almost the same support as a sports bra.
It’s good to wear a button-down shirt or something loose fitting so you can easily access your ladies. There are many nursing covers that double as scarves that you can use to cover yourself on the trail too. If it’s cold out, use a blanket for warmth and privacy.
Pack a towel to place in your lap to protect your clothes from drips while disconnecting your breast shield. You may benefit from having a backup outfit in your bag in case a major spill happens.
Take snacks and stay hydrated. Breast pumping can take a lot of your body’s resources. Have enough calories to stay energized. Plus, you need to be hydrated to have a good milk flow and to withstand the loss of fluids while pumping.
Pumping away from your baby can be difficult and emotional but having a few photos of them or an article of their clothing can help your milk flow stay strong. Having a reminder of them on hand can be comforting as well.
Actually Pumping on the Trail
When it comes to breast pumping on the go you can try to plan activities around your regular breast pumping schedule. For example, try to plan your breaks around peaks with nice views, at the bottom of the trail, for when you arrive at a campground, before you leave in your tent, and more. The options in your individual itinerary are endless.
However, things don’t always go according to plan and schedules can easily go awry. So, if you find yourself needing to pump on the trail, find a place to sit and relax and use your nursing cover for privacy from passerby. If you feel nervous about pumping in public you can take a few steps back into the woods.
Cleaning and Storage
If you plan to take your breast milk home to baby you can store it in a cooler for about a day. It helps to have a breast pump bag with an insulated section to store milk containers until you can hike back to your cooler.
When dumping milk remember to walk at least 100 yards away from the trail or your campsite. You can rinse it away in a sink if that option is available.
Your breast pump needs to be sanitized between uses. For this reason, some hiking mamas take an extra set of breast shields on the trail when cleaning options aren’t available. Your pump parts can be stored with your breast milk until you have a chance to clean them.
However, you can use breast pump wipes to wipe away milk in between uses or boil the parts to sanitize them. Just be sure to fully clean all of your equipment once you get home.
Pumping in Nature Without Baby is Possible!
For whatever reason you’re returning to nature without baby, from hiking for work or pleasure with friends, you can still breast pump to provide milk. Continuing to pump is the best option to maintain your milk flow and for avoiding painful issues. All you need is to be prepared to pump with a flexible plan for success.