Friday, August 1, 2014 Hike it Baby is doing a Big Latch On on Trail, so we thought posting this piece Anka wrote on pumping on trail came at excellent timing. Whether you bottle feed or breast feed, we thank your for working hard to keep your baby healthy.
Picture this, a well beaten hiking trail in the middle of a vibrant forest leading to a beautiful tumbling waterfall and to the side of the trail, me and my best/most hated friend, the breast-pump
While our baby never latched on right from the beginning, the importance of feeding him breast-milk trumped over any inconvenience pumping full-time would have brought on. In those early months, I pumped as often as my baby would nurse. That meant every 2-3 hours day and night, around the clock.
Going on our first hike at 3 weeks postpartum unleashed a few series of logistical preparations. Prior to the hike I would to pump in the car for half an hour, feed the baby and bring some leftover milk with us on the trail for a later snack. Once back from the hike, I’d pump again in the car for another half an hour to provide the golden liquid to the baby and the cycle would go on and on.
Needless to say, I would have rather preferred to be able to breastfeed, which comes quite handy on a longer trail, but unfortunately that was not my option so my choice was to make the best of what I had. And because hiking was always my passion, the ticket to adventuring again was bringing the pump along on-longer-than-2-hours hikes.
During my pumping days I gathered a number of tips and tricks for pumping while hiking, which I hope to come of some help to other moms.
Get the right gear and prepare for everything
While you’re hiking, you’re burning precious calories so in order to still be able to keep your milk supply, you’ve got to eat enough calories and fuel your body so you can fuel your baby. Also, drink water like it’s going out of style — a minimum of half your body weight in ounces.
Secondly, I needed a hand-free pumping bra so I can have my hands free for my baby. More often than not, he’d be right awake, awaiting his bottle and sometimes the milk would not flow down fast enough.
More than anything a quality pump is a must and the external battery pack a have-to. While it’s not as strong as the plug-in, it does the job while on-the-go. I also had the car adapter for pumping while driving to save time, whenever the time was right.
Invest in multiple shields and holding bottles, so you don’t have to scrub your goods in the forest, or better yet under a waterfall. You can also say good-bye to soap and water altogether with the quick clean breast-pump & accessory wipes from Medela – pure genius and a pumping hiking mom’s best friend.
If you’re hike is longer than two hours, you will need an extra ice pack and cooler to transport your milk home, unless you feed it to your baby right there and then.
If you’re anything like me, you might not care much about fashion while pumping, but wearing the right cloths while hiking is very important. Make sure you are comfortable and have easy access to your ‘treasures’.
Also pack hand sanitizer, something to sit on (disposable diaper pads are perfect) and a nurse cover in your backpack.
While pumping on-the-go can sometimes be a stressful experience, give yourself a break ahead of time. No matter how prepared you are, the time will come when you find yourself wondering what ever possessed you to go on a hike and pump in the first place. When this happens, remind yourself of the benefits your baby is getting from your milk, the fact that you’re spending time outdoors and that it won’t always be like this.
Looking back in retrospect, after having pumped for 10 months to exclusively breastmilk feed my baby, there wasn’t one time that I’ve regretted choosing to pump on some lengthy trail with my baby by my side while we enjoyed our precious time outdoors.
So go on mamas: pump, breastfeed and be happy!
Anka is a full-time Portland, OR working mom that treasures the most the special moments spent outdoors with her husband and 15-month old son, Apollo. In weekends you will always find them hiking or biking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and later blog about their son’s adventures on their personal blog: http://hike-a-tot.tumblr.com/