July 21, 2009
Supplemental Nursing System aka SNS
I’ve been using this handy dandy apparatus for around 2 months now. I’ve been wanting to write a blog on the SNS and breastfeeding incase there are other moms who have nursing problems like I do. The SNS saved my nursing relationship with Silas.
Nursing my babies is very important to me. I started out nursing my first 4 but always quit by the time they were 1-2 months old. Cracked and bleeding nipples are no fun and I had no support. Its an awful place to be when one feels desperate to nurse their baby but dreads doing it because of nipple trauma.
With my first home birth I was again desperate to nurse my baby. For 5 weeks I struggled with cracked and bleeding nipples (a definite sign of improper latching). I cried every time I latched him on. I wanted to quit but my ever supportive husband not only encouraged me to keep trying to breastfeed but refused to buy formula. I was angry at the time but am now grateful because it turned out to be my first “successful” nursing experience. I breastfed Elijah until he was 14 months old and found it extremely satisfying and fulfilling. I’ve nursed all of my babies since then, some as long as 2 years, and each time I find it more satisfying than the last.
With my last several babies I’ve had milk supply issues. (Lament coming on….Oh for those younger days when milk came forth like a fountian and the front of my shirt was wet from hearing someone elses baby cry…Lament over now.) I’ve compensated for lack of milk by nursing round the clock and starting baby food early. Too early really but I refused to give formula. I don’t trust the integrity of formula or the companies that make them. To borrow the words of a friend “I’d rather house a goat in my living room and milk it for my baby, than to give my baby formula” and I whole heartedly agree with this statement. I’d give a baby store bought cows milk (which is really saying a lot because I detest store bought cows milk) before I’d give it formula. That being said, my first 4 babies were formula fed babies.
While pregnant with Silas I decided I would have to do things differently. Just how differently I didn’t know. I only knew it was really going against my grain to give a 2-3 month old infant food and a better alternative would have to be found.
Nursing started out great like usually but once I was up and around and back at it my supply started to dwindle. I supplemented with a bottle for awhile but found that it was quickly leading to early weaning. I was crying every day and every night, depressed with giving Silas a bottle, depressed with seeing him wean, feeling like a failure but determined not to have a hungry baby. I was feeling caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock being that Silas need to be fed, the hard place being that he wasn’t really being fed by me.
One evening I did some reading on Dr.Jack Newmans website. I watched his video on using the SNS and decided after watching the video that even if I did have to supplement Silas I would way rather breastfeed him, supplementing with the SNS then bottle feed him which had been leading to complete weaning.
I started with the SNS the same night. I put all the children to bed so I could have some quiet to focus and some privacy. The SNS is a little cumbersome to use in that there are 2 tubes, one that has to be directed right so it doesn’t leak milk while the other tube has to be placed about a 1/4 of an inch extending past the nipple while the baby suckles. Its a little tricky to get the tube to lay right on the nipple while also getting baby latched on. Even with taping the tube down it still takes a wide open mouth and a good aim. As time has went on its gotten easier to use the SNS. It takes practice, patience and understanding how the SNS works to get the desired results.
IMO the benefits of using the SNS far outweigh the benefits of using a bottle to supplement. Silas’s suck had gotten pretty lazy which is to be expected since he’s been getting a bottle. I’m holding Silas close again for a longer period of time. I couldn’t seem to hold him close with a bottle like I do when nursing. My milk supply has increased. It had went way down again because that is what having to supplement with a bottle leads to.
When I first started using the SNS Silas was taking about 16 oz of goat milk a day. We are now down to 4-6 oz a day.
The SNS has gotten easier to use. I like privacy to use it. I nurse at home with it and don’t worry about it but when I’m out in public, mostly church, I take a big blankie so I can create a privacy barrier. I had been going to the car to nurse with the SNS so I could have complete privacy. I don’t tape the tubes down as that requires more time and exposure. It is a little tricky to position it right, get his mouth open wide and latch him on with out feeling like I’m “hanging out there” for longer than is socially acceptable. With time and practice its gotten way easier to use. I’m to the point now where I can hold the line and latch him on and get it (most of the time) on the first try.
Honestly there have been times I wanted to throw the SNS out the window. But a little fustration is nothing compared to the depression I was in over giving Silas a bottle. There is more to breastfeeding than breastfeeding.
In my humble opinion the SNS is a way better supplementation option for moms who want to breastfeed than supplementing with a bottle.
See these resources for Supplemental Nursing Systems: