There are times when it is appropriate and to offer a supplement to a breastfeeding baby. However, offering a supplement does not necessarily mean using a bottle and formula. A baby that is able to latch to the breast may be supplemented using a supplemental nursing system or “SNS.” A SNS can be used at the breast while mom and baby continue to breastfeed. If mom has expressed breast milk or human donor milk available, it can be used as the supplement. If not, formula is used.
I use the SNS regularly in my practice for a variety of reasons. I know it can seem a little intimidating at first, but I encourage my patients to recall the feeling of positioning their new baby at the breast the first few times; that was likely a little intimidating and awkward, as well, but is second-nature after a few days. I also encouraged my patients to remember that a SNS is often used only temporarily.
A supplemental nursing system should be introduced by a Lactation Consultant who also provides education on proper cleaning of the equipment and safe handling and storage of milk. The Lactation Consultant will also work to determine and correct the underlying issue resulting in the need for supplementation and provide follow-up support while mom and baby are using the SNS. See the link below of a mom and baby using a SNS device.