Breastfeeding Basics: Breastfeeding And SNS (Supplemental Nursing System)

Are you a new mother or soon-to-be mom curious about the benefits of breastfeeding? Look no further! In this article, we will explore the world of breastfeeding basics and delve into the concept of SNS, or Supplemental Nursing System. Whether you are new to breastfeeding or want to learn more about SNS, this article is here to equip you with all the knowledge you need to make informed decisions for you and your baby. So sit back, relax, and get ready to embark on this exciting breastfeeding journey!

Overview of Breastfeeding and SNS

Breastfeeding is the natural and best way to nourish your baby. It provides numerous benefits for both you and your little one. On the other hand, a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) is a useful tool that can assist in breastfeeding when certain challenges arise.

What is breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is the act of feeding an infant with breast milk directly from the mother’s breast. It is a natural process that provides the perfect blend of nutrients and antibodies to support a baby’s growth and development. Breast milk contains essential proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that are easily digestible for infants.

Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for the baby, but it also has several advantages for the mother. It helps in bonding with the baby, aids in postpartum recovery, reduces the risk of certain cancers, and promotes emotional well-being.

What is an SNS?

A Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) is a device designed to support breastfeeding by providing additional milk to the baby while nursing at the breast. It consists of a container to hold the supplemental milk, thin tubing, and an attachment mechanism that can be worn around the neck or clipped onto clothing.

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The SNS allows the baby to receive additional milk through a small, soft tube while also stimulating the mother’s breasts to increase milk production. It can be a helpful tool in various breastfeeding situations, especially when there are challenges such as low milk supply or difficulties latching.

Benefits of using an SNS

Using an SNS can offer several benefits for both the mother and the baby. For the baby, it ensures that they receive enough nutrition, even when the mother’s milk supply is low. It also helps stimulate the baby’s suckling reflex and encourages strong bonding with the mother.

For the mother, the SNS promotes milk production by providing additional stimulation to the breasts. It can also help overcome breastfeeding difficulties by improving the baby’s latch and encouraging proper suckling. Additionally, using an SNS can help maintain a breastfeeding relationship even when a mother is unable to exclusively breastfeed.

When to Consider Using an SNS

There are specific situations in which using an SNS can be particularly beneficial. If you experience any of the following, it may be worth considering the use of an SNS:

Low milk supply

If you are struggling with low milk supply and your baby is not gaining enough weight, an SNS can help provide the additional supplementation your baby requires. It ensures that your baby is receiving enough milk while stimulating your breasts to produce more milk over time.

Breastfeeding difficulties

Some babies may have difficulties latching onto the breast properly, leading to ineffective nursing and inadequate milk transfer. The SNS can help encourage proper latch and suckling, promoting a more successful breastfeeding experience for both you and your baby.

Premature or sick babies

Premature or sick babies may not have enough strength or coordination to nurse effectively. In such cases, an SNS can provide the necessary nourishment while still allowing the baby to practice nursing at the breast. It also promotes bonding and encourages the transition to exclusive breastfeeding once the baby’s condition improves.

How to Use an SNS

Using an SNS requires proper preparation and positioning to ensure a successful breastfeeding session. Here are the steps to follow:

Preparing the SNS

  1. Clean and sterilize the SNS container, tubing, and attachment mechanism before each use.
  2. Fill the container with the supplemental milk, following the recommended guidelines provided by your healthcare provider.
  3. Attach the tubing to the container and ensure that the tubing is securely connected to the attachment mechanism.

Positioning for breastfeeding with an SNS

  1. Find a comfortable position for both you and your baby. It could be the traditional cradle hold, football hold, or any other position that allows easy access to the breast.
  2. Gently tape or clip the tubing of the SNS to your breast near the nipple. Ensure that the tubing is positioned in a way that it reaches your baby’s mouth when they latch.
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Using the SNS during breastfeeding

  1. Encourage your baby to latch onto your breast as usual.
  2. As the baby latches, ensure that the SNS tubing is in their mouth so that they can receive the supplemental milk while nursing.
  3. Observe your baby’s feeding cues and allow them to nurse at their own pace.
  4. While using the SNS, monitor the flow of milk and adjust the positioning of the tubing if necessary.

Tips and Tricks for Successful Breastfeeding with an SNS

Using an SNS can be a learning experience, but with the right support and techniques, you can overcome challenges and have a successful breastfeeding journey. Here are some tips and tricks to help you along the way:

Seeking support

Reach out to a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding support group to seek guidance and assistance. They can provide valuable insights and help you troubleshoot any issues you may encounter while using an SNS.

Stimulating milk production

Frequent and effective milk removal is crucial for maintaining and increasing milk supply. Continue to offer your baby the breast regularly, even if they are also receiving supplementation through the SNS. Additionally, pumping between feedings can further stimulate milk production.

Maintaining proper hygiene

Ensure that all SNS components are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized before each use. This includes the container, tubing, and attachment mechanism. Proper hygiene practices can help prevent the buildup of bacteria and keep your baby safe.

Common Challenges and Solutions with SNS

While using an SNS can have many benefits, it is essential to be aware of common challenges that may arise and how to address them:

Baby refusing the SNS

Some babies may initially resist the SNS due to the unfamiliar sensation or flow of milk. To encourage acceptance, try offering the SNS when the baby is hungry but calm. You can also try changing the flow rate or temperature of the supplemental milk to make it more appealing.

Leaking or clogging issues

Ensure that the SNS tubing is properly secured and does not have any kinks or bends that may disrupt the milk flow. If the tubing becomes clogged, gently flush it with warm water to remove any obstructions. Proper maintenance and cleaning can minimize the risk of leakage or clogging.

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Finding the right flow rate

Finding the appropriate flow rate for your baby can take some trial and error. Start with a slow flow and observe how your baby responds. If they are struggling to keep up with the flow or seem agitated, consider adjusting to a slower rate. Similarly, if your baby appears frustrated or is not getting enough milk, try a faster flow rate.

Weaning from an SNS

Eventually, you may decide to wean your baby from using the SNS. Here are some steps to consider when transitioning to other feeding methods:

Gradual introduction of other feeding methods

Introduce bottle feeding or cup feeding gradually alongside breastfeeding sessions. This allows your baby to become accustomed to alternative feeding methods while still breastfeeding.

Encouraging direct breastfeeding

As your baby becomes more proficient at nursing, gradually decrease the dependence on the SNS. Allow your baby to spend more time at the breast without the supplemental milk, encouraging direct breastfeeding.

Monitoring baby’s progress

Keep track of your baby’s feeding patterns, weight gain, and overall development during the weaning process. Regularly consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that your baby is thriving and to seek guidance if needed.

Alternatives to SNS

While the SNS can be a helpful tool, there are alternative methods available for specific breastfeeding situations:

Bottle feeding with expressed milk

If direct breastfeeding is not feasible or desired, bottle feeding with expressed breast milk is a viable option. This allows you to provide your baby with the benefits of breast milk while still maintaining a strong bond.

Breastfeeding with nipple shields

Nipple shields are silicone or latex devices that are placed over the nipples during breastfeeding. They can help improve latch and aid in milk transfer, particularly when the baby has difficulty latching directly to the breast.

Tube at the breast method

The tube at the breast method involves manually placing a thin tube alongside the nipple during breastfeeding. This allows the baby to receive supplemental milk while nursing, without the need for a separate SNS device.

Frequently Asked Questions about Breastfeeding and SNS

Can I still breastfeed without using an SNS?

Absolutely! Using an SNS is not necessary for all breastfeeding situations. It is simply a helpful tool that can provide support when faced with challenges such as low milk supply or difficulties latching. Many mothers successfully breastfeed without the need for an SNS.

Is an SNS suitable for every breastfeeding situation?

While an SNS can be beneficial in specific circumstances, it may not be the best solution for every breastfeeding situation. Consulting with a healthcare provider or lactation consultant can help determine if an SNS is appropriate for your individual situation.

Can the SNS replace breastfeeding?

No, the SNS is not meant to replace breastfeeding. It is a supplementary tool that helps support and enhance breastfeeding when needed. It allows you to provide additional milk while still allowing your baby to nurse at the breast, promoting optimal bonding and milk production.


Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural way to nourish your baby. However, it can present unique challenges for some mothers. In these situations, a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) provides valuable support by ensuring adequate nutrition, encouraging proper latch and suckling, and promoting milk production. With the right techniques and support, breastfeeding with an SNS can be a successful and fulfilling experience for both mother and baby. Remember, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals and reaching out to breastfeeding support groups can provide the assistance you need on this wonderful journey of breastfeeding.