Pumping Breast Milk While Camping


Do you enjoy camping? As an exclusive pumper you might be worried about how to safely store your breastmilk or how you’ll charge your pump. This guide covers milk storage, cleaning, how to power your pump, and other helpful tips for pumping breast milk while camping.

breast milk and Spectra on a picnic blanket in the woods with text overlay How to Pump Breast Milk While Camping

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The number one thing that I struggled with when I was exclusively pumping was feeling like I couldn’t do fun stuff – baseball games, trips, run a half marathon – because it would be just too hard to manage pumping and storing my breast milk.

The first time I pumped outside my house (using my car as a lactation room) required a ton of planning – both thinking about how the logistics of how I would do it and what I needed. And it didn’t go perfectly – I forgot the caps for the bottles.

But I kept learning and trying different things and eventually got to the point where I could do anything, just with my breast pump in tow.

All this is to say, if you love camping, there is no reason to stop just because you’re exclusively pumping! Here’s everything you need to know about how to make it work.

Breast Milk Storage While Camping

In most cases, if you’re pumping while traveling or out with your baby, it’s easiest to feed fresh milk as much as possible.

This basically just means that after you pump, you feed that milk at the next feeding. This helps limit the amount of milk that you have to manage, and means that you don’t have to warm the milk before giving it to your baby.

If you have extra milk that you don’t need to feed right away, the best way to store your breast milk while camping is to put it in a cooler with ice. According to the CDC, freshly expressed breast milk can safely be stored on ice in an insulated cooler for up to 24 hours.

breast milk in a cooler in the woods

You may want to use a separate cooler for your breast milk to avoid any potential cross contamination.

Cleaning Baby Bottles and Pump Parts While Camping

Cleaning baby bottles and pump parts is probably the trickiest aspect of pumping while camping.

If you have access to a clean potable drinking water source (like in an RV or a cabin) then you can just wash as you would at home. Some campgrounds even have nice dish washing stations that you can use. However, it is not advisable to wash your parts in a communal campground bathroom.

If tent camping is more your style then you’ll need to tackle cleaning a little differently.

How to Wash Pump Parts While Camping

I recommend washing bottles, nipples and pump parts just as you would at home. You’ll need a large pot to heat up water over the fire or camp stove and a wash basin.

Once the water is hot enough, you can submerge bottles and other parts and begin to wash with a biodegradable soap, which is always recommended while washing dishes in the woods.

Once everything is scrubbed clean you’ll need to rinse using hot clean water. This is where the wash basin comes in handy. Add clean hot water and rinse away the soap. Dry everything and you are good to go!

A few other thoughts on cleaning pump parts while camping:

Powering Your Breast Pump While Camping

Pumps with a rechargeable battery like the Spectra S1 or a Medela Freestyle Flex are most convenient. Depending on how often you pump, your breast pump may hold enough charge to last through a full weekend camping trip.

However, if your pump requires an electrical source you can still make it work – you will just need a battery pack or a car adapter.

(Note: It is important that you chose the right voltage when powering or charging your pump. Using the wrong voltage could either fry your pump or not provide enough power for it to work properly.)

Some portable power options include:

The 12V Talentcell battery pack is popular with Spectra users.

Maymom makes a portable pump battery for 9V pumps.

portable power pack for breast pump

The Medela portable battery pack (for 9V pumps) is another option.


medela battery pack

A car charger is another good option; but it means that you have to pump into your car rather than wherever you happen to be. (Here is a 9V charger, and here is a 12V car charger.)

car charger

More on battery packs here.

Other Helpful Tips for Pumping Breast Milk While Camping

  • Remember to snack frequently and stay hydrated to keep your milk supply up while performing physical camping activities like hiking, swimming and canoeing. (Here’s some great drink and snack recipes to help!)
  • Use an alcohol based hand sanitizer to clean your hands before pumping if you don’t have access to running water.
  • Schedule activities around your pumping schedule.
  • Bring a manual pump for when you are away from your campsite or if you do not have an electrical source to power your pump.

What other tips do you have for pumping breast milk while camping? Leave them in the comments!

References

  1. CDC. “Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk.” https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/handling_breastmilk.htm





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