Expressing breast milk, How to freeze breast milk

Question: Expressing and freezing breast milk while traveling in Japan?

I’ve received a couple of emails from mothers who will be traveling to Tokyo without their babies, so they need to express breastmilk while they are here. I haven’t had a lot of experience with expressing milk, so I asked my friend Jennifer who is currently a working mother with a baby in Tokyo as she expresses on daily basis. Here are the questions and Jennifer’s replies below. Thank you so much Jennifer!!

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1: Where can I pump breast milk in Tokyo? Do you know if baby nursing rooms in Tokyo have power sockets in the private nursing rooms to plug in an electric pump?

Answer: I have had to pump in a variety of places, including some nursing rooms, but more often in the family bathrooms. Usually nursing rooms should have some sort of outlet, but it may be best to bring either batteries or a small electrical cord since it may not be conveniently located to the nursing area. Also, while I do use my US-purchased electrical pump in Japan without difficulty, I have heard that using in Japan and then using again in the US has led to problems with the plug. Friends have continued to use the same pump via battery pack, so that might be the best choice.

Regarding family or special needs bathrooms, these almost always have an outlet and I have never had difficult using. I recommend using one in a place where there is unlikely to be a queue. I irritated some salaryman once who was desperate to get into the family bathroom. I have used them in hotels, university buildings, coffee shops.

2: Do you know if hotels have freezers to freeze the breast milk?

Answer: Many of the mini-fridges in our hotels have had a freezer section, but it may be difficult to keep the milk sufficiently frozen for a longer period of time.I have never used them to freeze m milk, only to store for a day or two. Also, I have not found them to be as powerful as a normal freezer.

3. Have you ever taken frozen breast milk on the plane? Any issues through customs?

Answer: I have not flown overseas with frozen milk. I have flown domestically within Japan with fresh milk and it has not been a problem. I always simply tell them that I have milk and they might look at it. Again, I think the bigger problem may simply be keeping it frozen. Also, they might find it easier to inspect fresh milk versus frozen. I would refer her to Le Leche League information on fresh versus frozen milk. Refrigerated milk that has never been frozen should last at least 3 days, possibly as long as 7. Thawed milk that was previously frozen should be used within 24 hours.

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Hope this helps! If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

For previous post on how to freeze breast milk using Japanese freezer bags, see here!

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2 thoughts on “Question: Expressing and freezing breast milk while traveling in Japan?

  1. Candy says:

    Hi, I have a concern of a different nature. I will also be traveling to Tokyo without my kids in November and was wondering if it will still be safe to continue breastfeeding after the trip? Or will i pose a risk of the milk being contaminated by radiation and what nots?
    Thanks.

  2. Orlin's Mom says:

    I transit in Narita from San Francisco and Japan Security throw all my breastmilk that i carried. It’s not allowed to bring to cabin without the kid. And I was so upset and sad. It was fine from San Frans to Narita.

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