Breastfeeding on a Work Trip: The Real Deal with A. L. M. Russell
Interested in breastfeeding on a work trip? Read about the highlights and challenges that A. L. M. Russell faced throughout the USA.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where are you from? Where do you currently live?
When not traveling, I teach aquatic skills, write, am present for my husband (with suitcase packed), and attend conferences. Once a year, we volunteer for three or four months.
My birth place is a small village of Pomeroy, Ohio on the Ohio River. After marriage, my husband and I traveled to many places. In recent years we settled in Tyler, Texas. As you may know, East Texas is hot in the summers, so often we volunteer in cool, remote Colorado.
Where did you travel while nursing? What was the purpose of the trip? How old was your child at the time?
For 56 consecutive days, we traveled from West Texas to the East Coast, speaking on behalf of a small college. I was a very weary mother with a contented three-months-old baby — she was contented because she was breastfed.
In your destination, were there particular nursing areas that you recommend/don’t recommend?
I suggest (a) leaving the crowd to use an empty side room — some bathrooms provide a bench or chair, (b) sitting in the back of the auditorium/room, (c) perhaps returning to your vehicle, (d) or turning your back to the group (when you are at the edge of or behind the audience).
I don’t recommend making a display — regardless of the location — of the task. Don’t sit so close to passersby that they see your activity.
What sort of reactions did you get about your nursing? Did you feel comfortable/uncomfortable nursing there?
In smaller groups, no one seemed to recognize that I was doing more than holding a napping baby. Occasionally a woman would inquire, “Do you breastfeed your infant?”–not because she noticed but because she knew first-hand the benefits of a mother’s milk.
I designed my garments for the express purpose of minimal exposure and for ease of accessing the nursing bra and then snugging the infant to the nipple. Only the baby’s head was visible.
A few times I tensed up when a large percentage of men were in the audience.
Is there any nursing/pumping gear that you recommend for traveling?
Honestly, I never separated myself from my child during her nursing months. That is, I timed events between her need to suckle. Yes, once or twice I exceeded the time limit, however, I had prepared a water bottle and in case of an emergency, a formula bottle. As for a day or more away from her, I didn’t allow that.
I did use a breast pump for a brief time. I had the advantage of being a stay-at-home mom–except when we were on the road.
If you were traveling with your child, what were some kid-friendly highlights? What were some of the challenges in traveling with your child?
If she had been the only child with us on our travels, my answer would be short. However, we also had four older children in the mix.
“One, two …. ” Always I counted heads to be sure my brood was intact.
At each stop, I found a way for my children to run, jump, and count steps as we climbed stairways; kick balls; roll down hills; race each other, etc. I carried our favorite books: we took turns reading to each other when in a confined space. Piggy-back rides and frisbees also helped.
Road-trip challenges always, always, involved synchronizing pit-stops with urgent needs. We carried a large capped plastic (quart milk) bottle for our toddler to relieve himself. TMI?
Disagreements did occur but we encouraged positive attitudes over grumpiness.
Are there any tips you’d give someone else who is considering nursing in your destination?
Be prepared. Plan ahead for public “appearances” and the need for discretion. Admiration will be given to the woman who is modest. In the last few years a number of “concealment” apparatus are available. The simplest is the cloth diaper, burp “rag” or a small blanket. Also a mother can purchase (if not construct her own) “nursing garment.”
How little can you carry in a diaper bag? Each mother has to determine that, however, often less is more. One summer, seven of us traveled with five suitcases.
Photo credit: Maja