Breastfeeding Supplementation Using an SNS

Updated on November 10, 2016
Christa Ross profile image

Christa is a work-at-home educator with a degree in biology. Her husband is a public school social studies teacher.


Your baby is alert, bright, and already the apple of your eye. Either at your two or your six week appointment, the doctor announces that the baby has not gained an appropriate amount of weight and will need to be supplemented. From what you have read, you know that supplementing almost always diminishes your breast milk supply. The doctor insists that you must supplement - your milk is inadequate to provide the necessary calories for good brain development. This, you muse, is why so many mothers give up breastfeeding at six weeks.

This is exactly what happened to me. My baby boy, a beautiful seven pound 13 ounce boy at birth doubled his birth weight by two weeks, as most babies do. He was flourishing on my milk. He had hit every single growth and development milestone. Then, at his six week appointment, I was told he had not gained enough weight. My son was averaging about 2.5-3 ounces a week, instead of the 4-8 ounces that the "experts" claimed was needed for good development. The doctor said I needed to supplement, with a bottle, after I offered him my breast.

The SNS could very well save your breastfeeding experience.

Sometimes you need to look beyond medical advice.

I refused. I informed the pediatrician that I would seek the counsel of a lactation consultant. After all, my mother had successfully breastfed ten children, including multiples. My son was meeting all his milestones and was happy. The doctor spoke threateningly to me basically stating that I was starving my baby. I compromised saying that if his growth hadn't improved by his 2 month, then we could talk about supplementing with a bottle. That gave me roughly 2.5 weeks to get him to gain a minimum of 10 ounces. I called the lactation consultant, who had me increase my water intake to 120 ounces a day, take Brewer's Yeast, and basically nurse as often as possible.

My son did gain the 10 ounces, but the doctor decided that wasn't good enough. My son was under the 5th percentile on the growth chart. She repeated the need to supplement with a bottle. I had asked the Lactation Consultant for a list of questions. I asked the doctor if we could agree to treat the baby, not the scale. My baby was making all his milestones. The lactation consultant speculated that he was hypermetabolic, so giving him extra calories wouldn't hurt. After asking my questions, it suddenly dawned on the doctor that maybe this had absolutely nothing to do with my milk, the calorie intake, or the internal workings of my baby. She sent us for blood work. Low and behold, my son was anemic (unsurprising as I am chronically anemic) and another doctor said he was probably hypermetabloic based on family history.

Breastfeeding success starts with a well-informed momma.

With the counsel of the lactation consultant, the doctor and I finally agreed to give my son 10 ounces of iron fortified formula a day, delivered through a tube system called a Supplemental Nutrition (or Nursing) System (SNS). He would latch on for breastfeeding and I would insert the tube in his mouth. He would still have to suckle and nurse, but he would receive additional vitamins, minerals, and calories through the SNS. 10 ounces would be 4 feeds, as the bottle with the SNS was 2.5 ounces. It was incredibly easy. As babies need about 30 ounces of milk a day, I was only giving him about one third of his nutritional needs in formula.

My son gained an entire pound in a week and a half after starting the SNS. He nursed just as often as he was before. I was still pumping about the same amount. The plan is: once he gains an appropriate amount of weight, we will slowly replace the formula with breast milk in the SNS. Once the SNS is only supplementing breast milk, we will cut down on one feeding per week until he is only breastfed. This will likely take place around 4-5 months. He will receive a multivitamin with iron daily once we have begun weaning him off formula.

The success of breastfeeding my son was vitally important to my husband and me. We were not willing to compromise our child's health or nutrition for our want of breastfeeding. We were willing to research, ask questions, and challenge the doctor. I am so thankful for the knowledge of lactation consultants and the existence of the SNS. If you experienced poor weight gain while breastfeeding, contact a lactation consultant!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)