While I’ve been back at work since Thanksgiving, I was lucky to avoid travel for the last two months. My luck changed this past week and I needed to travel to Tulsa for a case. Traveling for work is not new. In 2016 while pregnant, I travelled a total of 37 days (right through my eighth month of pregnancy). I’m really good at finding pools to swim in, interesting running routes and hotels with decent fitness centers. Pumping breast milk while traveling, however, was a completely new challenge, and one that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to conquer.
Ivy is five months old and still nurses regularly. She is breast fed every morning when she wakes up, in the evening before bed and if she wakes up during the night. During the day while I am at work, I pump 3-4 times and am usually able to produce one full bottle per day for her to have at daycare (she supplements with formula for the other bottles). I have production issues so I’m always worried about pumping enough to keep my limited supply up. When I learned that I would have to travel to Tulsa, I was worried about being able to pump enough so that there would be milk for Ivy when I returned and getting my milk back to Ivy (since I produce so little, every milliliter is pure gold and I couldn’t stand the thought of pumping and dumping).
On the advice of Lindsay Jones (Oiselle bird, fellow Emory alum, NFL reporter for USA Today and momma to Little Lena) I checked out Milk Stork. Milk Stork is a breast milk storage and delivery service that provides traveling moms with supplies and refrigerated overnight shipping so they can pump and send milk back to their little ones. I decided it was worth a try for my Tulsa trip.
On the Monday before my departure I went on milkstork.com, entered the dates I was traveling and information about my hotel and Milk Stork gave me two options for shipping and storage — Pump & Tote or Pump & Ship. Pump & Tote provides you with a pharmaceutical grade cooler with 60 hours of refrigeration to store and tote your milk home. Pump & Ship provides you with a pharmaceutical grade cooler with 72 hours of refrigeration plus a pre addressed and shipping box complete with FedEx overnight postage to send your milk home. Both options also come with storage bags for your milk. Seeing that I had to carry a ton of documents I took the Pump & Ship option. Once I selected Pump & Ship, I was asked whether I wanted the 36 oz. or 72 oz. size. I took the 72 oz. size so I’d have more bags and wouldn’t have to worry about needing a second shipment box. Within minutes of checking out I received a notice that my Pump & Tote shipment was on its way to my hotel in Tulsa.
When I arrived in Tulsa on Wednesday night my Pump & Ship box was waiting in my hotel room. Throughout my stay in Tulsa I pumped regularly, stored the labelled milk in the bags provided by Milk Stork and had the hotel keep the bags in their kitchen refrigerator for me (my room had a small drinks cooler but it wasn’t cold enough to store breast milk). Before leaving on Friday, I activated the Milk Stork cooler, packed up my bags of breast milk, sealed the package and dropped it off at the front desk. Before I even arrive at the airport, I received a shipping notification that my package of breast milk was on its way home. After 8 hours of traveling (my breast pump caused issues at TSA and had to be specially inspected) I arrived home close to 2 a.m. Ivy was super excited to see me (so was Ryan, but I was tired and grumpy and mean to him) and nursed as soon as I got home. I was excited that she remembered how to nurse. I hadn’t even been home for eight hours when the next morning at 9 a.m. the door bell rang and the FedEx delivery person handed over all the milk I pumped. When I opened the box the milk temperature was just above freezing. I was ecstatic, I was able to pump four days of daycare bottles for Ivy and they were all delivered with ease to our house on a Saturday morning.
Milk Stork completely rocked. If I travel again while Ivy is nursing, I will definitely be using it again. The only drawback is the price. My 72 oz. box cost $159 plus shipping (the 36 oz option is $139 plus shipping). I am able to expense this cost; if I wasn’t, Milk Stork offers a letter to send to your employer requesting reimbursement. That being said, even if I were unable to expense it, I would pay for it out of pocket; it is that impressive and valuable.