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Why you might want to use a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) for breastfeeding & how to use it

Learning to breastfeed can take time and practice and even a whole bunch of tools you didn’t know existed before your baby was born! Some mama/baby pairs are lucky enough to “get it” immediately but many more of us will need support and some props to get breastfeeding really dialed in.

If you have friends who are new mamas or who will be new mamas soon, share these posts! So often new moms feel blind-sided after birth when feeding issues start. Knowing ahead of time that issues can be common, there are awesome tools to support you if you have trouble breastfeeding and that you can ask for them at the hospital (or sometimes in your pediatrician’s office) if you’re struggling can be enough to reduce or even avoid early anxiety and overwhelm. One of those tools is called the Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) or tube feeding system.

This post isn’t just for parents! If you are an OT, PT, SLP, or other feeding professional definitely stick around because we will be discussing when we recommend the SNS, why, and how we use it.


We took a poll on our Instagram account (@feedersandgrowers) and the results found that about 34% of responders used an SNS at some point to feed their baby!⠀

What is an SNS and why use one?

A Supplemental Nursing System is a tool with a small tube that you can place on your breast with either a bottle or syringe attached to the other end that can help you deliver additional breast milk or formula to your baby while he or she is breastfeeding. It is used when you do not have enough milk to support breastfeeding. The SNS provides the baby extra milk to encourage him or her to remain latched for longer and be more active at the breast to stimulate your milk supply by emptying the milk that is currently available (in your breast) while also making sure baby gets a full feeding.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

🔥Hot tip for OTs, SLPs, or lactation consultants: They are kind of expensive and sometimes hospitals don’t have them in stock but you can ask the nurse to make one using a small nasogastric tube (a 5 French works perfectly) and a 5-10mL syringe.

Why should you use an SNS?