How do tube-at-the-breast systems work?
A tube-at-the-breast system consists of a container that holds milk and a tube that runs from the container to the mother’s nipple. The baby breastfeeds with both the tube and the nipple in the mouth. These systems can be used when the baby needs a milk supplement. They can be especially helpful when the mother has a very low milk supply or wants to breastfeed a baby she has not given birth to. They allow the baby to stimulate the breast and generally do not interfere with breastfeeding. On the other hand, the systems can be expensive, a little fiddly, hard to clean, and some babies can’t latch onto the breast with the tube in place. They cannot be used if the baby cannot latch and suck. There are two commercial products available or mothers can make their own. The flow rate of milk through the tube can be adjusted to allow a normal feeding time.