If you have breast milk in the freezer and are planning to move, figuring out how to pack up and move your freezer stash to your new home can be stressful. Here are some options for moving a breast milk stash.
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Things to consider when moving a breast milk stash
There are a lot of variables when you’re figuring out the best way to move your milk, including:
- How far are you moving, and are you driving or flying?
- What kind of access will you have to power/ice/dry ice?
- Is shipping the breast milk feasible?
- Does it make sense to donate part or all of your stash rather than move it?
Let’s walk through each of these factors.
If you’re moving locally, you can most likely just pack your breast milk in a cooler.
Make it the last thing you pack before you go, and the first thing that you unpack when you get there. Obviously, it’s ideal if the freezer is already set up and on in your new home.
Driving longer distances
If you’re moving further away, you might have a long road trip. With a long drive, one option is to pack your milk in dry ice.
One exclusive pumper, Iyana, packed 4,000 oz of breast milk in two 150 quart coolers filled with dry ice. It arrived frozen solid after a 14 hour drive. Here’s a photo of the setup:
Flying and checking your breast milk stash
If you’re flying, you may be able to bring some milk with you on the plane.
Another exclusive pumper, Becca, packed 276oz of breast milk in a Yeti cooler that she checked, and it arrived frozen solid after a flight from Israel to the United States.
Her top tips were:
- Chill the cooler about 12 hours before you pack the milk in it (she used frozen water bottles)
- Make sure the cooler is full (use newspaper or frozen water bottles if your milk doesn’t fill up the cooler)
- It will be tempting to check on your milk after you claim your baggage, but don’t open the cooler until you get home and can put it away
What access will you have to power, dry ice, regular ice, etc.?
Depending on how you’ll be traveling, you might have some additional things to consider.
Are you moving the freezer too?
Some exclusive pumpers who have driven to a new home over multiple days have kept the milk in their deep freezer from home, put the deep freezer in the truck they were driving, and then plugged it in at each hotel they stayed at along the way with an extension cord.
Replacing ice or dry ice
If you’re driving with ice or dry ice in a cooler, you may want to replace ice on your trip. Regular ice should be pretty easy to find; you can also look into where you can get additional dry ice along your route if necessary.
If you will have long flights and/or connections and are carrying on breast milk, you may be able to replace the ice in your cooler if needed. (On a flight, you can usually ask the flight attendant for ice if you need it, but you may want to call the airline to confirm.)
Is shipping the breast milk feasible?
If you are planning on flying, or have a long drive, you may find that shipping the milk makes the most sense.
You can find complete instructions for packing breast milk for shipment here.
You might also find it easier to use a shipping service. Milk Stork, which ships breast milk home for traveling and working mothers, may be able to help you with this.
Does it make sense to donate part or all of your stash?
Moving and shipping milk can be expensive and a pain to manage. At the same time, dumping breast milk that you worked your butt off to pump is obviously not something you want to do.
Another option might be to donate part of your milk stash to a mom that needs it, instead of trying to transport it.
One option is to donate to a milk bank. This is a great way to help pre-term babies; usually there is some upfront work such as blood work and additional screening required.
You can also look into informal milk sharing.
Hopefully this helps you with moving your breast milk stash! Let us know if you have experience with moving breast milk or have any questions.