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Supplemental Nursing System: A Chance to Breastfeed with Adoption

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

Hello Milk Mamas!

August is breastfeeding awareness month and Huddle Up Moms is proud to present you with the 411 of breastfeeding. We know the journey of breastfeeding can be a long road for some or short for others. We see you moms. Those who were unable to breastfeed and we know this may be a hard month for you. We see you mothers who spend countless hours exclusively pumping, pumping and feeding, bottle feeding, those who desperately wanted to feed but were unable to. We see you mothers who do whatever is best for you and your baby and we applaud you!  This is a month to recognize and celebrate ALL OF YOU!! 

Today’s blog is about the Supplemental Nursing System and one Mom’s journey through breastfeeding and adoption.

DISCLOSURE: This information is not meant to be ALL encompassing and should NOT replace seeking advice from your health care provider for specific, questions, solutions, and concerns about your health! The purpose is to spark curiosity and gain some insight into your health.

What is the Supplemental Nursing System?

A system that allows you to supplement your baby at the breast with breast milk or formula. The baby is breastfeeding at the same time as receiving additional milk.

This system is designed for:

  • Mothers with low supply but still desire to breastfeed.

  • Babies who are unable to breastfeed effectively (premature, tongue tie).

  • If the babies refuse the breast because of slow flow.

  • Mothers who have adopted babies and desire to breastfeed.

  • Non-lactating partners who want to connect with their baby through breastfeeding.

How does the supplemental nursing system work?

A very thin flexible tube is placed in a container filled with breastmilk or formula. The other end is inserted into the baby’s mouth after the baby has latched onto the breast. You can also tape the tube onto the breast prior to having the baby latch. The baby will get breast milk from the tube feeding and may also get milk from the breast.

What do I need?

  1. 5 French feeding tube (sold at a local pharmacy or medical supply store, but also ask your local lactation specialists).

  2. Medical Tape.

  3. Bottle (any bottle will work).

  4. SNS kit (Medela makes one you can wear around your neck OR you can get one on Amazon or Walmart).

If you are at home struggling to try and feed your baby or you feel alone YOU ARE NOT. The most important tip we can tell you is DON’T GIVE UP! Please call or seek out help from a lactation specialist and inquire about SNS today!!

Adoptive Breastfeeding:

A personal story by a Certified Lactation Counselor

This is my adoptive breastfeeding journey. 

Before I became a Certified Lactation Counselor, I was just a mom. A bio mom of 4 (all were breastfed), foster mom, and an adopted mom of 2 special needs teenagers. And we thought our family was complete. Until we had a family member approach us and ask if we would be willing to adopt their baby. We obviously said yes and this got me thinking about breastfeeding this baby. The baby was due in about 2 months at this point and didn’t give me a lot of time to prepare.

At the time, this was in 2015, there wasn’t anyone local I could find who knew what to do other than suggest pumping with a breast pump and herbs.

I started googling and found out about Dr. Jack Newman, a pediatrician who developed a protocol for relactation. Most women who follow this protocol are fairly successful. However, he recommends starting 6 months to a year before the baby is due. And that wasn’t going to work for me.

August 2015 Laura Kefauver nursing her adopted son with a SNS
Laura Kefauver nursing her adopted son with a SNS

One of the things he suggests is taking a medication called Domperidone. Unfortunately, this medicine is illegal in the United States and has to be ordered out of the country. I ordered the medicine, and by the time it arrived, I had about a month before the baby was born.

I started taking the meds, herbs, and pumping every 2 hours. And by the time our little one arrived, I was making maybe 1 ounce per day! Not enough for a baby that needs that much at 1 feeding.

So, I decided to use a SNS (supplemental nursing system). This is a bag or bottle that can be filled with breast milk or formula and is delivered to the baby through a tube that can be used while the baby is latched to the breast or for finger feedings. We were lucky enough to be able to receive donor milk along with formula to feed him for his first year.

Even though I wasn’t successful with relactation, this still allowed me to nurse my baby and have that bond with him. This led me to want to help other women with their breastfeeding journey, and I became first a Lactation Educator, then a Birth Assistant, and now a Certified Lactation Counselor. I currently work at New Life Birth Center in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and love being a part of this amazing community.


Dr. Jack Newman’s website: Dr. Jack Newman

Learn more about Supplemental Nursing Systems (SNS) here: SNS


Laura Kefauver, CLC

"I teach the breastfeeding class, do home visits and office visits for breastfeeding help/counseling and assist with labor and delivery at New Life Birth Center."

New Life Birth Center

Facebook Page: Click here.

Website: Click here.

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