Breast Milk in the Sky.

Via Sojourner Marable Grimmett
on Jul 23, 2010
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I couldn’t imagine them trashing my containers of breast milk out like heavy scented body lotion, perfume, or hairspray.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) . I’m not sure if I want my breast milk sliding through your radioactive x-ray scanning device anyway.

After being away from our youngest son for three days, I had to pump in order to maintain my milk supply. I had never carried breast milk through an airport security checkpoint before, and was a little apprehensive that security would ask me to throw away my precious cargo.

I prepared myself for the worst. I couldn’t imagine them trashing my containers of breast milk out like heavy scented body lotion, perfume, or hairspray, let alone insulting me and putting them in the same category as those products. Tossing out breast milk would be like trashing platinum or gold!

I stood in line holding  my bags of milk and a printout copy of TSA’s guidelines for “traveling with formula, breast milk and juice.” One of my storage bags was black and the other bag stood out, a deep red color with bright fuchsia stripes.  I have no idea where my sister, Malaika, got that bag.

I approached the first guard and handed her my ticket and ID. Automatically stating, “I’m carrying breast milk;” as I recalled that the guidelines suggest that you tell the guards you are armed with milk. The guard directed me to two other guards who were waiting to examine the liquid.

“Open the bags, Ma’am,” said two young, chubby men surrounding me with wands and New York accents. The shorter one quoted the TSA website, “You are encouraged to travel with only as much formula, breast milk, or juice in your carry-on needed to reach your destination.” I had milk for days, so I became even more nervous and prepared to defend my milk, in case my 5 oz didn’t clear through security.

One of the guards then stated, “Breast milk is good for 2 hours.” I said, “It’s actually good for 4 to 8 hours.” “Really?” He replied. “Yes!” I said, smiling. The other guard was in full TSA mode waving his wand inside and along the sides of my bags. “You’re clear to go, Ma’am,” He said. My deodorant had kicked in and I sighed with relief. Thinking to myself, that this is way too much work to bring breast milk in the sky.

The following are some general breast milk storage guidelines from

  • At room temperature (less than 77°F) for 4 to 8 hours
  • At the back of a refrigerator for 3 to 8 days
  • At the back of a freezer for up to 3 months

For more details on navigating the TSA screening process with your children, please read information on traveling with children. Nursing moms be prepared to defend your milk and good luck!

Illustration by Erin Bennett Banks.


About Sojourner Marable Grimmett

Sojourner Marable Grimmett has a BA in communications from Clark Atlanta University and an MA in media studies from Pennsylvania State University. She is a stay-at-work mom and her experience in higher education spans over 10 years working in student services and enrollment management. Sojourner previously worked at CNN, Georgia Public Television, and as an AmeriCorp member at Harvard University’s Martin Luther King Jr. after-school program. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Roland and two young sons, Roland Jay and Joshua. Visit her blog and follow her on twitter.


14 Responses to “Breast Milk in the Sky.”

  1. Roland Grimmett says:

    Great Article!

  2. Teresa Hernandez says:

    Great article Soj. 😉

  3. […] Breast milk in a Sky | elephant journal […]

  4. Heather Grimes says:

    Ahhh, yes.
    I also have a little one, though I have not yet left her for long enough to have to pump without being able to feed it to her directly or put it right in our fridge, but I anticipate that will happen soon!
    I had to use donated milk from the milk bank when she was first born and I was amazed at how much an ounce of breast milk was worth! Platinum or gold is right!
    Anyhow, thanks for writing, Sojourner.
    I have been really appreciating your articles.

  5. Heather – Thanks for the post! That's wonderful that you were able to donate milk. Our bank is too far away. Keep up the good work! Best – Sojourner

  6. Darton says:

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  7. Thank you Darton! I really appreciate your post!

  8. Thank you Terry! You're the best!

  9. Thank you sweetie! XOXOXO

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