Which Supplemental Nursing System?

medela-sns-vs-lactaid-happyhumanpacifier-1If I were to import anything into South Africa, it would be the Lact-Aid Deluxe Nursing Trainer System.  Simply because the only Supplemental Nursing System available here is the Medela SNS.  I’ve done a whole heap of research into this subject, and have noticed that some Moms prefer the Lact-Aid, and others, the Medela SNS.  There are different reasons to use each system, and there certainly is a case for having both available.

Let’s back-up a little bit…

How does a Supplemental Nursing System work?

A Supplemental Nursing System (SNS)  is an alternative to bottle feeding, that allows a baby to nurse at the breast.

An SNS, whether home-made or bought, consists of a container and a feeding tube.

The container is filled with expressed breast milk or formula.

The feeding tube is placed very close to the nipple or taped to the breast so that the baby can have both the feeding tube and nipple in their mouth at the same time.

As the baby suckles at the breast, they are stimulating breast milk production, while also receiving supplementary milk via the tube.

Why Use a Supplemental Nursing System?  

There are 3 main reasons a Mom would use an SNS rather than bottle feed:

  1. To Stimulate Milk Production

The more often a baby feeds at the breast, the more breast milk is produced.

When breast milk supply is low, skipping breast feeds to top up with bottled milk, usually diminishes milk supply even further, and this can lead to early weaning (the slippery slope described in this interview with Jean Ridler – IBCLC).

This is why an SNS would be preferable to bottle feeding in order to establish or re-establish breast feeding.

Who may need an SNS to Stimulate Milk Production?

  • Moms who have to Induce Lactation
  • Moms who are struggling with Low Milk Supply
  • Moms who want to Re-lactate

2.  For Bonding

Many Moms prefer the closeness and intimacy of nursing their babies at their breast, to bottle feeding.  Breastfeeding is a big component of Kangaroo Mother Care, (also known as Skin-to Skin), and can literally save the lives of babies who are failing-to-thrive.

Who, especially, would need an SNS for Bonding?

  • Moms with Adopted or Surrogate babies
  • Moms with Premature or Special Needs babies
  • Moms with Impaired Babies or Babies Failing to Thrive

3. As a Teaching Tool

In an ideal world, all Moms would have an ideal birth experience.  Quick, natural, pain free (ha ha – we wish!), with no interventions or drugs.  The newborn baby would be placed on the Moms tummy for the first couple of hours after birth and the baby would crawl up instinctively to the breast, and latch perfectly. This is known as the breast crawl, and generally babies who latch instinctively in this way, have no issues with breastfeeding.

However, we don’t live in an ideal world, and childbirth does not always go as planned. Complications may arise affecting the Mother or the child, or both.

As a result, not all babies are born knowing how to breast feed.  Some need a little extra special help.

Which babies may need an SNS as a Teaching Tool?

  • Weak, ineffective or lazy nursers
  • Fingerfed babies who have difficulty latching
  • Babies born Premature or Special Needs babies
Medela SNS happyhumanpacifier.com

Medela SNS

The Medela SNS featured in this picture is the very one used by the wonderful Mom who gave us this beautiful interview: Breastfeeding My Adopted Child – A Mother’s Touching Story.  I don’t have a picture of the Lact-Aid, unfortunately, as I haven’t found one in South Africa (yet). (If anyone has a great picture they’d like to send in to me, that would be awesome! Please email me on lauren@happyhumanpacifier.com).

The main difference between the two systems is that the Medela SNS makes use of a plastic bottle (BPA free of course), and the Lact-Aid makes use of disposable packets.

It’s important to note that a number of Moms recommend buying 2 to 4 units of the Lact-Aid, rather than just 1, so that you don’t have to clean bags between each feed.  This could make the Lact-Aid far more costly than the Medela SNS, except that I found a Mom who suggested buying 4 units of the Medela SNS  for exactly the same reason (convenience of having them handy).

All Moms who have purchased and used supplemental nursing systems seem to agree on one matter – they are worth every cent.  Understandably. Their reasoning goes something like this:

“If this little gadget can give me the chance to nurse my precious baby, it’s worth all the money in the world.”

It appears that More Mom’s Favour the Lact-Aid over the Medela SNS.  Here’s Why:

Points in Favour of the Lact-Aid:

  • More Discreet (a bag is easier to conceal than a plastic bottle)
  • Suction-fed – the baby has to work more to get the supplement
  • More comfortable to wear
  • Light weight
  • Quicker and Easier to Set Up (although not at first)
  • Easier to clean Properly (Others say the SNS is easier to clean)
  • Easier to Use Lying Down
  • Can be used without using micropore or plasters
  • Babies tend to Suck Harder
  • Some babies refuse the SNS tube, but will accept the Lact-Aid tube
  • Lact-Aid tubing rarely breaks (more flexible and durable)
  • Disposable bags (though most Moms wash and re-use them)
  • Latching and suction feels much better and more effective
  • Leaks less than the Medela SNS
  • You can prepare a number of feeds ahead of time (if you have a few units)

Points Against the Medela SNS:

  • Cumbersome
  • Gravity fed – some Moms feel this makes it too easy for the baby to feed
  • Cannot nurse while lying down
  • Leaks more than the Lact-Aid (two tubes instead of one)
  • Using Micropore or Plasters to tape it up everyday irritates the skin
  • Have to set up and re-fill each time (unless you buy more than one unit)

As mentioned though,  I’ve found that there are some Moms who choose the Medela SNS over the Lactaid.  Here’s Why:

Points in Favour of the Medela SNS:

  • Easy to wash and re-fill
  • Easy to use when starting out
  • No ongoing costs (for replacement bags)
  • Good for Extended Use
  • Gravity fed – better for weak or lazy nursers
  • Easier to transport safely as the bottle is stronger

Points Against the Lact-Aid

  • Quite tricky to learn to use
  • Not the best option for babies who are weak or lazy nursers
  • Not the best option for babies who have difficulty latching

Click Here for more Info on the Medela SNS – Click Here to Purchase the Medela SNS on Amazon

Click Here more Info on the Lact-Aid Nursing Trainer System – Click Here to Purchase the Lact-Aid on Amazon

 

8 Replies to “Which Supplemental Nursing System?”

  1. Jenny

    Hi Lauren,

    I wish I’d known about Supplemental nursing when I had my daughter 4 years ago. After an emergency c section and delivering a rather large very hungry baby, I struggled with breastfeeding but I persevered doing combined feeding with bottle until finally after about 6 weeks my body caught up with her demands.

    I’m so glad I stuck with it as it was the greatest feeling in the world to be able to do it for her.

    All those parenting terms you mentioned, I never bothered reading all that stuff, I kinda just stumbled upon what worked for us and went with it.

    Reply
    • Lauren Kinghorn Post author

      Hi Jenny, thanks so much for commenting! I love your story! Well done for persevering and finding what worked for you.

      Reply
  2. Joy

    Wow, what an incredibly informative and beautiful site! I wish there were resources like this available when I was working as a doula with at risk teens.

    As a mom who breastfed each of her children for 2 or more years, I love any site that supports breastfeeding. Even with all of the information regarding the benefits of breastfeeding, so many moms choose to bottle feed.

    I do my best not to judge others and I understand that, for working moms with hectic lifestyles breastfeeding can present a challenge. Maybe if there were more sites like yours available, more moms would find it in themselves to at least try to breastfeed.

    Thank you for creating such a beautiful resource~

    Sincerely,

    Joy

    Reply
    • Lauren Kinghorn Post author

      Aw, Joy… Thanks so much for your compliments! How sweet of you! Our goal is exactly that – to gently, respectfully encourage and inspire more Moms to breastfeed.

      Reply
  3. Felicity

    This article provides great information on Supplemental Nursing System. It seems like SNS could help solve problems for moms who are struggling to provide milk. The comparison between Medela SNS and Lact-Aid is great to help nursing moms make better decisions. Feeding babies enough milk is very important to their future growth. SNS can help babies get enough milk without wearing moms out.

    Reply
    • Lauren Kinghorn Post author

      Hi Felicity, thanks so much for reading our article and getting a clear understanding the SNS. You are spot on.

      Reply
  4. tatihden

    I am happy you are shinning the spot light on breastfeeding. Many new moms don’t know better and can be influenced by others not to breastfeed. It happened to me and I was not very proud of it.

    I have never heard of a supplemental nursing system. I can see how it will stimulate the breast to produce more milk.

    So if you produce enough milk and your baby latches well, there will be no need for a SNS right?

    Reply
    • Lauren Kinghorn Post author

      Absolutely! If all goes well, no need for an SNS.

      Thanks for being so honest. Sorry to hear you didn’t have the support and encouragement you needed to breastfeed. Support and correct information are absolutely crucial to nursing success. I feel for you.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*