It was only recently, thanks to Adele from Circus Queen’s guest post on Plus2point4’s Breast Mates Breastfeeding Stories that I learned of the existence of Supplemental Nursing Systems (SNS). Simply put, it is a container which you can fill with breastmilk or formula and a couple of tubes which you position the ends of on your nipples so that when baby suckles, they receive the supplement in addition to your breastmilk from your breasts. Sound a bit complicated? This picture will help…
And this picture from PoshMums illustrates perfectly how you set up and wear an SNS…
They can be a bit fiddly to set up but can also be a really useful in helping overcome breastfeeding difficulties.
If, for any number of reasons, you are not producing enough milk for your baby or if they are ill and too weak to latch correctly an SNS is a great short-term solution. You can even use them if you have an adopted baby and you are embarking on induced lactation or you stopped breastfeeding a short while ago and would like to re-lactate. There are in fact a whole host of circumstances in which you might find an SNS useful.
A drop in supply is most commonly related to baby not feeding effectively. They might have a tongue tie (ankyloglossia) or weak latch. Milk is transferred easily from the SNS by baby suckling at the breast and eliminates the need for bottles. It is also vitally important, especially in the case of low milk supply, that your breasts are stimulated by either nursing or expressing and the SNS allows you to feed your baby whilst your supply is low AND still stimulate your breasts much more effectively than hand or pump expression.
If baby is ill or premature and/or small, the act of breastfeeding is very tiring for them. The SNS ensures a steady supply of milk without interrupting breastfeeding.
The SNS is a great tool for continuing breastfeeding through some pretty tough times and will usually be a short-term measure until baby is well again or your supply is back on track.
Mum of two, Cody was extremely thankful for the support an SNS gave her when her baby daughter was taken ill…
“June 1st was a big day for my family and I, it was the day we found out our 7 month old baby girl had IB (Infant Botulism). IB Attacks the nerve endings in the body not allowing the messages that your brain sends to all parts of your body to be received. A most commonly known form of getting IB is from honey or even from canned foods that were not prepared or stored correctly. This isn’t how she contracted IB. Something that is not commonly known is that the Botulism spores are in the soil. Places like construction sites where the soil is broken up and moved around are where you will find these spores. Where we were living at the time (and had just moved into) was an apartment complex that was remodeling everything.
I am a firm believer that “Breast is Best”, and was heartbroken when my baby girl was unable to eat. She was exclusively breastfeed up until this time when I was unable to pump hardly any milk for her Nasogastric tube feedings. Even though I was unable to produce the amount of milk that was needed, I was pumping to help. I knew that I wasn’t going to make enough milk for her to sustain her calories she needed per day and accepted that she would in fact need to have formula. As a mother who has always exclusively breastfed, it was hard but I knew it was more important for her to have formula than to wait for my milk to finally produce. Once she was moved from the PICU and onto the floor it seemed that there was a light that was finally peeking through at the end of this tunnel. I was finally starting to be able to pump enough milk for 2-3 feedings. Eventually when she started passing her swallowing tests, we worked on her nursing. She still was unable to latch and it was discouraging. Thankfully Medela, has a fun little helper called the SNS. I am so thankful for it till this day! After using the SNS for almost every feeding, my baby girl was starting to latch more and more. This also meant that the IB was starting to clear out of her little body and I could see she was starting to get back to her bright happy self. The SNS allowed her and I to have our bond of nursing back. Something we didn’t have for weeks. She was happy and I was happy. I am not sure how long it would have taken her to get back her ability to nurse if we hadn’t been able to use the SNS by Medela but I know that it was good practice and comfort for her. I would recommend the use of SNS to anyone who is having difficulty with nursing their little one, or even those who aren’t able to breastfeed but would like that amazing special close bond that a mother and child get from nursing”
Cody DuBois from Groveland Ca, USA. Currently residing in Dixon Ca, USA. .
The more I think about it, I realise I might have been able to use an SNS to continue breastfeeding Spud after I contracted the Norovirus. I tried to feed him after 4 days of not doing so (due to incorrect advice) but predictably, my supply had dropped dramatically. Spud was fussing and frustrated at the lack of milk when he tried to feed. If I’d known about the existence of the SNS then I probably would have been able to use it whilst getting my milk supply back up and who knows how long Spud and I would have carried on nursing for.
Circus Queen has written about her experiences of using an SNS when she encountered supply problems and has shared the experience of others to produce a really great post full of practical hints and tips on using an SNS. Please pop over and read ‘Practical Tips for Using a Supplementatl Nursing System‘