Expert Advice

Traveling With Breastmilk

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Who ever knew that traveling with breastmilk can land you in Airport Security? Before you travel, verify what amount of breastmilk— and in what state it can be—so you can take it onboard with you.

From England comes the story of a businesswoman who pumped 500 bottles of breastmilk during her business trip. When she was in security in Heathrow Airport she had to throw it all away.  She tried to compromise and was even willing to have it stored in the aircraft’s hold. Nope, said Heathrow security.

In 2015 actress Alyssa Milano’s pumped breastmilk was also confiscated at Heathrow airport.

Emily Cooper struggled to produce enough milk with all three of her children. Consequently, she arranged her entire 2015 Italian vacation around pumping, to keep up her milk supply for her infant son at home. But she was forced by Lufthansa Airlines to repackage it in a cooler, check it in as an extra bag, and charged her an extra bag fee. The milk didn’t make it.

Breastmilk advocates like the World Health Organization (WHO) repeatedly tell women that every drop of this breastmilk counts.

So throwing away ounces and ounces means chucking into the trash many hours of work, inconvenience, and discipline on the part of dedicated mothers.

breast feeding post birth

Traveling with pumped breastmilk for your baby at home is a labor of love

What’s the problem?

Pumped breastmilk can become a problem if you are not traveling with your child. Click To Tweet

Let’s ignore the fact that if your child were with you, pumping wouldn’t be necessary.

Heathrow Airport strictly conforms to the limit for carry-on liquids —3.4 ounces (100mL). But Alyssa Milano’s argument is three-fold:

  • The containers were less than 5 ounces
  • In order to conform to security regulations she would have willingly distributed the breastmilk into the extra containers she always keeps with her
  • Airport security refused, without even testing her milk, but tested and let pass her toiletries of the same size

Yet the website states:

You can carry breast milk in hand luggage even if you’re not travelling with a baby. You can’t carry frozen breast milk in hand luggage.

Individual containers of breast milk must hold no more than 2,000ml [68.63 ounces]. Each container will need to be screened at the security point. Airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids.


Keeping up your milk supply while you’re away from baby means you’ll probably be traveling with breastmilk in tow

What are the rules?

Be sure to know what you need to do to get your breastmilk back home.

While it appears that Heathrow is absolute about the liquid limits, in the US the Transport Security Administration (TSA) says:

3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption

Formula, breast milk and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag. Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. You do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk.

Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in carry-on. If these accessories are partially frozen or slushy, they are subject to the same screening as described above. You may also bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred and processed baby food in carry-on baggage. These items may be subject to additional screening.

On the TSA website’s page Children with Medical Conditions, Disabilities, or Mobility Aids they recommend:

  1. At security, notify the TSA officer about your pumped milk and that you have more than 3.4 ounces with you.
  2. Remove it from your carry-on.
  3. Officers usually open and test, or x-ray, liquids. Inform the TSA officer you do not want your breastmilk opened or x-rayed.
  4. Other screening methods can be used, although it may mean you as the “carrier” may go through additional screening, such as a pat-down.
  5. Therefore, remember that you can request a female officer for that personal body screening.

And the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has suggestions for mothers traveling with their nursing child and those traveling without their child.

Within the US, Milk Stork provides the shipping supplies you need to send your milk home.

Since world-wide security regulations have not caught up with the value WHO puts on breastmilk, being prepared means more than bringing your pump and extra bags with you.

Follow the links above to be as informed as possible before traveling without baby, and to come home with your milk supply—and your pumped “liquid gold”—intact.


To learn more about breastfeeding tips, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.

This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.

Published: April 25, 2017 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: April, 2017


Sabriga TurgonTraveling With Breastmilk

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