An SNS System allows you to give baby a supplement when it is necessary for nutrition / weight gain, yet still have baby at the breast for the entire time. This is important because it allows you to maintain a full nursing relationship, and allows baby to stimulate your breasts while still receiving nutrition. There are many different styles of at-breast supplementers they all have some sort of container, either a bottle, a bag, or a syringe, that is filled with either pumped breast milk, or formula.
From the container there is a delivery method such as a tiny tube or plastic tip that runs to the mother’s nipple. When babies are receiving a lot of supplementation, as in the case of a premature baby who wasn’t able to be at the breast initially, the tube can be taped to the mother’s breast prior to baby latching on. In most cases it’s best to slip the tube in along side your nipple toward the end of the breastfeeding session but before baby is getting frustrated at the breast because the milk is slowing down. Then, as baby continues to nurse at your breast, the supplement is provided through the SNS System.
If you have been directed to supplement by your health care provider, there are some incredible benefits to using an SNS System.
Benefits of Using an SNS System
- The first benefit is that baby learns that he is satisfied at the breast. Often when supplements are given via a bottle the baby will learn to start crying at the breast until the baby is given a bottle. Babies prefer bottles because they can be lazy! They don’t need a good latch and the lightest of sucking gets the milk to flow. It flows consistently and it doesn’t stop until the bottle is empty. Babies who are given bottles develop a preference for the bottle and are very unlikely to go back to breastfeeding. If breastfeeding it important to you, do not give a bottle. Use an SNS System instead.
- The second benefit of an SNS System is that your body gets the extra stimulation it needs to know that it is not making enough milk. This is important because you have to communicate with your body, and tell it that it is not making enough milk. If you give a supplement, and don’t communicate with your body, your body will assume that it is making the right amount of milk. It will then continue to make that amount of milk, or worse, because baby has started crying to get a bottle and is leaving milk in your breast, your body will slow down production even more.
- The third benefit of an SNS System is that you get to keep baby at the breast, and experience a happy, satisfied baby, who may even fall asleep nursing and continue suckling the breast providing even more stimulation. This extra stimulation encourages the body to make more milk!
When to Offer the Supplement
When using an SNS System you want to insert the tube or syringe end after baby has removed a good amount of milk from the breast, but before baby gets frustrated with a slower flow.
After baby finishes the supplement, allow him or her to continue to nurse at the breast. The advantages to this is that it allows baby to finish at the breast, which psychologically tells baby that he gets satisfied at the breast. He will learn positive association with the breast, rather than feeling like the breast is frustrating and doesn’t give him what he wants.
Where to get an SNS System
If a supplement is needed for proper weight gain or diaper output, an at-breast supplementer or SNS System is the best method for providing the supplement and maintaining, or building your milk supply.
There are commercial products available for Supplemental Nursing Systems, such as Medela’s Supplemental Nursing System which you can find on Amazon and other retailers or you can use a monoject syringe also available on Amazon. Some engineering type moms have made their own SNS Systems, a google search may turn up some ideas for making your own!