July 21, 2009

Supplemental Nursing System aka SNS

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By Dana

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:

Filed under Breastfeeding Aids, Breastfeeding Stories by Jessica

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Comments on Supplemental Nursing System aka SNS »

July 21, 2009

Cara @ 9:00 pm

What a neat story. The love Dana has for her children really comes through in it ?

Cara @ 9:01 pm

That was supposed to be a *heart*, not a ?

February 5, 2010

Terri @ 4:05 pm

Great success story! The heartbreak at knowing your baby isn’t getting enough food, then the victory in figuring out how to get it to him without weaning, very moving. Thanks for sharing that. I’m sure it will be an encouragement to another mom.

June 7, 2010

krystal @ 6:53 pm

what a moving and special story. My daughter is 14 weeks old, i breastfeed her fully until she was 8 weeks then with low milk supply and lack of support and knowledge i started supplimenting with a bottle. this turned out to be my biggest nightmare, i felt the same depression and failure you speak of but was adament i would not give up! I have just purchased a sns and begin using it at her next feed. wish me luck!! please let me know when you stop using the sns as id love to know how long it took you to restablish your supply. well done, your baby is very lucky to have such a commited mummy!

October 1, 2010

jacinda @ 10:05 am

Dana and Jess,
Thank you for the emotional support and information. I will be using the system as soon as it arrives and hope to have a great update to give. Dana should add her update of going onto weaning from the sns… what a wonderful encouragement.

November 18, 2010

Mariana @ 2:15 pm

Hi ladies.
I have a 8 weeks old baby girl that is not putting on the expected weight. She is a VERY lazy feeder :/ that’s why my milk supply dropped considerably after the 6th week. I was so hopeless and already thinking about weaning her, even if it was to give her expressed milk on a bottle. I was kindda deppressed for the fact that I initially could meet her needs and she simply wouldn’t feed!
It gave me hope to see that other moms had the same problem and fought the bottle as much as I am. I’m gonna talk to the lactation consultant tomorrow and I’ll mention it to her. I really see it as a way to help my baby gain weight while I build my milk supply back, on my BREAST! That sounds like a dream! :)
I’ll give u the feedback! :)

God bless u all!

January 25, 2011

Chasya-Uriel @ 10:22 pm


Are you still using the SNS? If yes, at what month? I am using the SNS with my 9 week old, and I fear that she won’t continue on it for 2+ years as it is awfully cumbersome, and I do not want to switch to a bottle. Please share where you are in the process.

Thank you, Chasya-Uriel

February 13, 2011

Sabrina @ 9:59 pm

I am currently using the SNS with my 14 day old. Do you have any tricks on how to latch him on without taping the tube. I find when I try to “sandwich” my breast to get him to latch the tube pops up. My husband has been helping me insert the tube, but he goes back to work tomorrow. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

September 9, 2011

Dana Y @ 6:35 am

I am looking for more information on when to discontinue use of the sns. I started using the sns a few days ago to help my 2 wk old son discontinue pacifying while breast feeding. I had to supplement 1-2oz while trying to increase my milk supply with a bottle, he began to not want to feed at the breast because the bottle was much easier, that is when he started to become a lazy sucker. I am looking for signs or ways to determine the length of use? The sns is amazing and would continue to use with my son. Being only 2 weeks post I want to make sure he doesn’t get dependent on the sns, Help!

October 16, 2011

Eesti @ 6:52 pm

I have struggled with nursing my children due to injury to my breasts but this works well to help my milk supply I pump then use the milk in the SNS the next time I nurse and after I am done nursing him I pump again for next time I have gotten to the point the baby seems satisfied when I nurse him away from home and not using the SNS I am so grateful to be able to nurse him.

October 30, 2011

karla @ 4:19 pm

The lactation nurse made one for,me a day after my baby’s birth to stimulate let down. I got so frustrated and stopped using it. Got depressed and felt like a failure but tried again until I just gave up. The bottle seemed easier. I’m a first time mother and breastfeeding has been a nightmare. My flow seemed to increase but then I noticed it diminished. She’s going on three months and I’m thinking of getting the and again. It’s worth a retry.

September 27, 2012

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June 12, 2013

Jenna @ 2:10 pm

I’ve been using an sns for 10 months now and even though it never helped my supply it kept my baby satisfied and at the breast

September 22, 2013

Kayle @ 1:14 pm

Thank you so much! Do you think this is a good option for my daughter who has come to prefer the bottle (due to faster flow and ease)? She latches on ok but is beginning to not want the breast at all! I’m hoping this will be a good way to re-associate my breasts with good for her. She’s 9 weeks old

February 2, 2014

Fiona Hicks @ 9:30 am

hey! this was an encouraing story to read. I also have problens making enough milk – didnt have nearly enough with my twis and supplemented them with a bottle and formula but also didnt have enough for my new baby who is now 4 months old. I have been using the sns, recommended to me by my midwife, since she was six weeks old and am so grateul for it, even though it is frustrating at times. I feed her raw goat milk with a little coconut oil in it.

June 10, 2015

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