At Breast Supplementers

As an adoptive breastfeeding mom, I spent some time using at breast supplementers. Here is a summary of my experience with them:

One thing to know at first is that using an at breast supplementer is a HUGE pain! It takes a lot of patience and perseverance, but is time well spent. It can be hard to get baby latched on properly with the tubing in the right place. My best advice is stick with it because it is worth it!

When I brought baby home I went on-line and ordered the Lact-Aid. All of my research said that this was the best option for the long term. It would be several days before it arrived so I went ahead and started with a Medela Starter SNS. This is a disposable system ideal for short-term (24-hour) supplemental feedings at the breast. It is cheap, and better than nothing. Really the only point I want to make about this one is it is designed to be used for 24 hours, NOT long term. If you are going to be using an at breast supplementer for more than a couple of days, then you need a better system than this.

Medela Starter SNS

Once the Lact-Aid arrived I was disappointed to find that my baby couldn’t get the formula from it.  She seemed to be latched on and sucking well, but she just couldn’t draw the milk. I tried raising the bag, even squeezing it. I made sure the formula wasn’t too thick to pass easily through the tube. She was only 4 lbs. and as a premie she was still not “to term”. We consulted with an IBCLC and decided that it may be a weak suck that would likely improve as she approached her due date. I decided to go ahead and get the Medela SNS. Unlike the Lact-Aid, the Medela SNS is a gravity flow system. It also comes with 3 different sizes of tubing. I decided to use the largest tubing, with the SNS held high so that the milk would flow easily for her. I gradually moved to smaller tubing, then to the Lact-Aid.
Medela SNS

the Lact-Aid
Bottom Line:

For multiple feedings a day and long-term use I definitely choose the Lact Aid! You can prepare a bunch of bags of milk in advance (it really helps to have several assemblies as well, a bit of an investment but cheap when you look at the formula you won't buy because you brought milk in!).

I found the SNS to be cumbersome and often leaked.

Tips and Tricks:

·       Use COLD formula. Sometimes it can be hard to know if baby is actually getting the formula from the supplementer. When the formula is cold, you can feel it coming out across your nipple and into baby’s mouth.
·       The filter that you use with the Lact-Aid is the same as a reusable or permanent coffee filter. I got a coffee filter and would make up 24 hours worth of formula and filter it all at once, instead of using the little filter provided and doing it a bag at a time.
·       A strategically placed band-aid can be a place to slip the tubing through to get it and keep it in the right place. I find this works better than tape because it is easy to adjust how far the tubing goes in.
·       I found I did not need to use the neck strap for the Lact-Aid, that instead I could just “sit” it between my breasts in my bra.
·       To keep the tubing in place I would slip the tubing under the strip of fabric of the nursing bra above the breast. This would hold it in place better than a band-aid or tape. (See photo/diagram below)