For too long I brought every scrap of pumping equipment with me to dinner to prepare for variability. I never knew what to expect. No such thing as a restaurant lactation booth. Timelines driven by the rhythm of a meal have a unique opinion about when it is (and is not) appropriate to pump. I find that there are virtually no options for sinks or refrigerators. So having a full kit of parts on hand made me feel as though I could seize any short window for a pumping opportunity.
Bringing everything sucks though. I plunked down a one-gallon vessel next to a bar stool for a few hours and got nothing but questions about what on earth it was. I like to say, “oh that is medical” and people immediately stop asking questions. It is cumbersome though, like carting around a full gallon of milk with you all night. If the hotel is nearby, I try to stop and drop to minimize my pumping setting up. I leave all of the milk that I pumped that day (in the vessel, I don’t bother to unpack). I also drop all of the dirty pump parts (thrown into bags and cast off next to the hotel sink).
What I pare down to is this:
- One set of pump parts
- Bottle Lids
- A Cover
I try to pump every three to four hours wherever in the world I am (so long as I am awake). If the dinner plan is relatively short, I can pump on the early end, cap the bottles, and chill the milk when I get back to the hotel. So long as that pump is within four hours of my return time to the hotel. If the dinner plan is long I wait and pump mid-way through the evening so that I can still leave the milk at room temperature for four hours. This way, I don’t need to cart around a vessel or ask for fridge space. Sometimes I’d bring an empty food jar just in case I needed to ask for ice and chill the breastmilk. But more often than not I found that four-hours was plenty long enough for dinner to entirely run its course. Traveling with just a pump was plenty.