If you have breast milk in the freezer and are moving, 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?
- Are you driving or flying?
- What kind of access will you have to power/ice/dry ice/etc.?
- Is shipping the breastmilk feasible?
- Does it make sense to donate part or all of your stash rather than move it?
How Far Are You Moving?
If you’re moving locally (within 1-2 hours driving distance), you can most likely pack your breast milk in a cooler with plenty of ice.
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.
However, if you have a longer trip, this might not be an option.
Are You Driving or Flying?
If you’re moving further away, you might have either a long road trip or be flying to your destination with the essentials while a moving company moves everything else.
If you have 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:
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 options. For example:
- 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. (Make sure not to open it in the meantime; I would check with each hotel you’ll be staying in before starting the trip.)
- If you have a long road trip and are driving through an area where you’ll be able get dry ice, you may be able to travel with it in a cooler and replace the dry ice as needed.
- If you’ll be flying and carrying on breast milk, or if you have a shorter drive, you may be able to replace the regular ice in a cooler. (On a flight, you can usually ask the flight attendant for ice if you need it; 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 directions for shipping breast milk here.
You might also find it easier to use a shipping service. Milk Stork, which ships breast milk home for traveling and working mothers, will do this for you.
Does It Makes 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 a huge stash.
One option is to donate to a milk bank. This is a great way to help pre-term babies; however, usually blood work and additional screening is 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.