Okay, so when we have serious supply issues, what's our first thought to do? Supplement. Sometimes it's with breast milk, sometimes with formula, but no matter which, the typical method of giving this supplement is counterproductive to breastfeeding: bottles.
So I'm going to show you another option, that will bring your supply up if you need to supplement. It's not as easy to feed as with a bottle, maybe, but it will not only make certain your infant is getting everything she or he needs, but also will raise your supply and cannot cause nipple confusion or nipple preference.
The Lact-aid. I've suggested this in the past, but it sounds complicated to people and really, it's not.
(image is of the Medela SNS from their site)
What is a lact-aid? It's a thin tube that supplies milk to the baby while he or she is latched onto the breast and suckling. What's at the other end of the tube varies. It can be a bottle with the nipple cut off or the hole enlarged, or it can be thawed bags of breast milk. The lact-aid tube can be held or taped to the chest for the Mommy-on-the-go (who is breastfeeding while doing other things--usually accomplished by having baby in a sling) or the Mommy who has a baby who might pull the tube out of his/her mouth.
How is it used? You simply get baby latched on, then slip the tube into the mouth, towards the roof of the mouth until the milk gets sucked up.
Here's a video of a lact-aid being introduced. (it will open a video download window).
Lact-aids (or supplemental nurser systems, SNS for short) can be obtained through lactation consultants or a few websites, including through Medela.
I hope this offers another option to moms who are worried about their supplies, but don't want to introduce bottles, have had issues with nipple confusion/preference already or have babies who won't TAKE a bottle. And, with a little practice, it is just as easy as using a bottle--or easier if you're using pumped milk, as you don't have to transfer it from the bag you froze it in!
This is also a way that moms who just can't produce milk can give their babies formula and have the bonding and skin-to-skin contact that breastfeeding brings and babies need. In fact, it may stimulate a mom who had trouble making milk into making milk. Maybe not enough to fully feed off of (although that's a possibility) but every drop counts!
This is also an option for moms choosing to relactate to build up their supply faster than just pumping.
Here is a site with a few images of the lact-aid in use (and instructions how): http://lact-aid.com/rpt022.htm#positioning
And a site with SNS in use: http://www.breastfeed-essentials.com/accessories.html#SNS