Medela's Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) is a feeding tube device for giving premature, failure to thrive, impaired or adopted babies long-term supplemental feedings at the breast. Because it keeps the baby on the breast, the SNS avoids problems with sustaining the milk supply, and problems with nipple confusion for the baby.
The SNS was originally designed to help adoptive mothers breastfeed. When a baby sucks on the mother's breast for a period of days or weeks, a hormonal mechanism is triggered that causes milk to be produced. This is known as induced lactation.
The SNS works by a bottle hung around the mother's neck. Two tubes are taped to her breasts so that the ends reach her nipples. The tubes are very small and soft and unnoticed by the baby. When the baby takes the nipple and areola into his or her mouth, he/she also takes the tube. Breastfeeding proceeds normally, maintaining the stimulation to maintain lactation and the intimacy between mother and baby, as well as providing baby with important supplement from the SNS.