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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Coping with low milk supply.

Can you breastfeed when you have no milk? Or a low milk supply?
These photos show a variety of very cool moms (I am proud of all of them) coping with a low milk supply and/or poor weight gain. Most of these situations are temporary. The supply issues were very frustrating for all these moms, but the ability to keep the baby at the breast brings out the smiles on both mom and baby. Several of these babies show great eye contact and all the babies are very peaceful being fed this way.

She is using a Medela SNS. The baby grabs the tubing like it's her best friend! She had poor weight gain.

A medela SNS is recommended for 24 hour use, but these two babies used their apparatus about two weeks. Medela has a supplementer designed for longer term use. (I don't show a photo of it.) They both are very busy toddlers, now!

This is a close up of showing the tubing going in the baby's mouth.(click on photo to see it better.)

She rigged her own supplementer with tubing and a bottle. Nothing fancy!

This one is called a supplemate. Most of these systems are filled with formula. Expressed breastmilk can also be used. Baby is three days old. The pediatrician also was concerned about jaundice. The pediatrician recommended supplementing formula in a bottle. I want to show mom away to avoid interrupting breastfeeding. Mom has had gastric surgery. I wasn't sure about the impact of bariatric surgery on on breastfeeding, so I was eager to show her this technique before feeding issues and weight became critical as the examples of older babies in the above photos.

This is another supplemate. It is recommended for one time use. We wrapped a rubber band around it, so mom could slip her finger through it and free her hand. We could also clip it to her shirt so her hand is completely free (see top photos). Mom wants to build her supply while keeping baby at the breast.

This system is called a lact-aid. This baby is much older than all the other babies shown above. This system is for long term use. Many adoptive mothers use this system. This mom said she could nurse lying down without spilling formula. This system allows you to prepare and fill many bags ahead of time. The other systems can only be filled one at a time. He also had significant weight loss before we discovered it was the milk supply. I really did not think she would be able to breastfeed. She proved me wrong! It brought tears to my eyes when she wrote me a few months later, "I am so glad I didn't give up. I am enjoying breastfeeding so much."

I loved this series of photos I took of this mom. There is formula in that bag and this baby never got a bottle (ever!). He received all his formula supplement at the breast. As I watched this baby twiddle with his bag of supplement it reminded me of how my son twiddles with my "other" breast. I am so proud of this mom for keeping her baby at the breast (he's almost a year old)despite her true low milk supply issues. Her baby acts very attached like any exclusively breastfed/sling carried baby. He is very healthy.

Even if not "feeding" babies can get comfort at the breast.

If you can't "breastfeed" you can still nurture at the breast.


Shannon said...

I'm a little confused...Does the tubing go in the babies mouth while on the breast?

crispy said...

I too used a SNS with my first baby. I had never heard of it and it was a life saver for my low milk supply.(Literally a life saver, the baby wasn't gaining weight.) I used it the whole time I breast fed and I know that it was worth the effort that it took. Pumping after every time I nursed and using that milk in the SNS the next time. I didn't realise that the SNS is used for adoptive mothers too. What a great way to have that bond.

Permission to Mother said...

I added a close up photo to show the tube going into the babies mouth while on the breast.


Jen said...

I started out using the Medela SNS and I found that because the tube is so long it made it handy for me to tape the tube to the top of my breast to help keep control of it while guiding it into the baby's mouth. I then moved on to the Lact-Aid supplementer and because that tube is so much shorter I didn't really have this problem... but I was also pretty used to using these systems by then. So if you are new you may want to try that to help you along. Then I found the best route was to "tap" the bottom of my baby's mouth/chin to get him to open his mouth wide (as you would normally do when nursing) and I would support my breast and hold the tube so it lay flat on my nipple so when the baby latched he would be latching to the nipple and tube. You have to use it a few times to figure out the best placement of the tube in relation to your nipple to make sure the baby gets the tube in his/her mouth right and gets the milk out but for me it was just off-center. Also I found helpful when I would tape the tube to my chest/breast I would make sure when the tube was laying on my breast the end was just beyond my nipple. The way the tube gets far enough back in their mouth so they can suck the milk out of the tube.
It takes a little time and patience to use the SNS but it is so well-worth the efforts in the end!
I hope this information is helpful for anyone trying to figure out how to use and SNS.

Jen said...

I am so excited we have finally hit on low milk supply! And while I could probably write a novel on this subject I just want to say one thing: from a mom who has struggled through low milk supply and has been using an SNS through my whole bf-ing experience...
there is nothing more true than the fact that breastfeeding is so much more than just providing nutrition to your baby. My son is almost a year old and while he now drinks mostly from a sippy cup (which he started about a month ago... directly from breast... no bottles) he still "nurses" not for milk obviously but for comfort. Usually he does this at night or during his teething weeks or other times of discomfort... and it is no better feeling IN THE WORLD than knowing I can comfort my child when nothing else can! A lot of times he just likes to nuzzle up to me and have skin to skin contact but I know without the breastfeeding realtionship we had and continue (thanks to the help and MAJOR support of Dr. Punger) I would probably just be dealing with a crying unsoothable baby... and instead I am still continuing to have the same satisfaction (if not more) now in soothing him through nursing and nuzzling and skin to skin contact as I was while providing all his nutritional needs through nursing with a supplementer.
I encourage all mothers with breastfeeding difficulties to never give up... there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and the rewards are endless!

pearly1979 said...

I used the SNS too! I truly believed it saved our nursing relationship! My daughter was born early Wednesday and my milk did not come in until late on Sunday. The SNS got us through! Without it the uneducated pediatrician we had could have really made a mess of things.

catalina said...

I LOVE the story of the adopted mother .. what a bond and connection that brings to that baby and between them.

It's so great to know that there are instruments in this day and age that aid in being able to lactate through almost any situation. I'm so happy for all those breastfeeding mothers :D

KMDuff said...

My friends' baby won't take a bottle and stops nursing when her milk runs out and she has had low milk supply since having mastitis last month. (I think the pacifier is part of the problem.) What about switching babies? I nurse her baby and she nurses mine? Since my baby doesn't have a pacifier and sucks for comfort as well as food and I have lots of milk for her baby to drink, theoretically my baby will bring up her milk supply with her sucking and her baby will get plenty from me in the meantime. We feel like its a good idea, curious on your thoughts. I will mention this SNS to her as well since she's been seeing a doc about her son losing some weight.

Permission to Mother said...

You never know to you try. You two need to make that decision...

KMDuff said...

Well we did switch and it helped her out. She has the same amount of milk in both breasts now. More importantly, I think she gained confidence in knowing she was able to satiate my bigger baby and that she DOES have enough milk for her baby.

Permission to Mother said...

KM Duff, Thanks for the update. I am so glad it worked out.

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