First thing, check to make sure you have a refrigerator. Worst case scenario, you can store your milk for a couple days in an ice bucket full of ice from the dispenser, but it is a hassle to keep refilling the ice and pouring out the old water. Most hotels and motels have refrigerators that they will bring to the room for “medical purposes”. So check on that first.
Set the refrigerator to the coldest possible temperature. You want your breast milk as close to freezing as possible. Best yet, freeze it if possible. It will be easier to take home that way.
If you are a naturally early riser or if your baby is very young, requiring you to pump every three hours, pump again just before you leave. You don’t even have to detach and clean the pump attachments between your first pumping and this one if these two pumping are less than two hours apart.
If your meeting is at a different location than your hotel, fill up a Ziploc bag with ice from the vending machine at your hotel and put it into the cooler that came with your pump bag.
During your lunch break let people know you have something to take care of and sneak back up to your hotel room to pump. If your meeting is at a different location, pump in your car and store your milk in your little cooler. If you have a little Tupperware container and some dish soap in your pump bag as we discuss in how to express milk on a plane, then you can simply bring that back into the building and wash it in the kitchen or restroom sink. You may consider keeping a little paper gift bag or a plastic bag that isn’t see thru in your pump bag or purse so you can carry the Tupperware with your attachments thru the building without anyone knowing what you are doing.
Immediately after your meeting ends, go back to your room or car and pump again. Even when my business meetings include a business dinner, there is always a break in between the day and evening segments. If there isn’t, I just let people know ahead of time that I have a conflict and have to step out for ½ an hour.
Pump again at around 9pm – hopefully you are back at your hotel room by then.
Pump again just before you go to bed.
If you are worried about your milk supply, consider pumping again whenever you wake up to go to the bathroom. Remember, you don’t need to express a whole lot of milk. Read Tip #6 on Breastfeeding Tips page for more about this. If you are worried about your volume, pumping once in the middle of the night will ensure that you are expressing plenty of milk for your baby. Again, when it comes to how to express breast milk, it is more about frequency than volume.
I typically freeze my milk if possible. But that is because I don’t typically use it in the next day or two upon returning home. Do what works best for you and your situation.
Regardless of whether it is frozen or refrigerated, I put the bags of expressed milk in the cooler that came with my pump or a separate insulated bag if I need the pump cooler on the return trip. I throw in a quart-sized Ziploc filled with ice. I don’t plan to open this bag until I get home so I often place everything in another plastic bag just to be sure nothing leaks on the way home. This is a great way to recycle those plastic bags they give you that hold conference giveaways.
If I’m flying, I put the insulated bay in my checked luggage. The temperature in the luggage compartment is much colder than the cabin. If I’m checking a bag anyway, it always makes more sense to ship my expressed milk in it.
If I’m not checking a bag or if I’m driving, I keep it sealed up and put any new expressed milk in something else to keep it cold. Adding warm milk to your frozen supply will make it melt faster, so it is better to store the new milk separately, along with new ice. If you drive for long distances, get one of those car coolers you can plug into your cigarette lighter.
The minute I get home, I take the milk out of my luggage and put it into my refrigerator or freezer depending on when I plan to use it. I’ve had no trouble with refreezing the milk if it thawed somewhat during the trip home.