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If you’ve never stopped to research the difference between breast milk and infant formula, you might be surprised. Breast milk is vastly superior to formula when it comes to improving a baby’s immediate and lifelong health and has a composition that is impossible for the best scientists to create. Breast milk is a living fluid that actively protects against infection. Amazingly, the breasts increase the number of specific antibodies in milk in response to any infection that the nursing baby is fighting off. Formula contains no living cells, no antibodies, and no live anti-infective factors to actively protect the baby from infections. Breast milk contains specialized substances needed to colonize the newborn gut lining with the proper flora that will determine much of the baby’s digestive, immune and brain health for life. Formula contains none of these and actually contains substances that tend to cause the overgrowth of the wrong flora (yeast and other things) in a baby’s gastrointestinal system. Have you ever wondered why formula fed baby poop stinks while breastfed baby poop typically only has a faint sweet smell? The digestive system struggles to properly break down all the synthetic man-made substitutes in formula. Based on over nine thousand studies, we now know that the following health risks are decreased when babies are breastfed instead of formula fed: 23-50% decrease in ear infections 42% decrease in eczema 64% decrease in gastrointestinal infections, such as diarrhea 72% decrease in respiratory infections 27-40% decrease in asthma 7-20% decrease in obesity in adolescence/adult life 19-27% decrease in Type 1 Diabetes 39% decrease in Type 2 Diabetes 15-19% decrease in childhood leukemia 36% decrease in risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Breastfeeding very literally saves babies’ lives every day! Despite the huge benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of formula feeding, only 35% of US mothers are breastfeeding exclusively at 3 months and only 14.8% are breastfeeding exclusively at 6 months. At Family Birth and Wellness, over 90% of our clients are exclusively breastfeeding when we see them at their final visit around 2 months after birth. Well over half of our babies are breastfed far beyond 6 months (many for 1-2 years). Most women DESIRE to breastfeed. So many are disappointed when it doesn’t work for them. One of the biggest factors we see that determines whether a woman will go on to successfully breastfeed throughout her child’s infancy is whether she has the information, support, resources, and encouragement she needs to keep persevering through the breastfeeding struggles that are very common in the first few weeks after birth. At FBW, not only can call your midwives directly at 2 a.m. to ask for help when your baby is refusing to latch, but our Certified Nurse Midwives are also International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) who specialize in breastfeeding issues. If your milk supply is low, your nipples are cracked, or your baby needs a tongue-tie evaluation, our staff midwives who have helped thousands of other women through the same challenges, also want to make you successful at this investment into your child’s health! We provide lactation counseling and support for any woman, so feel free to call us for breastfeeding help even if we are not your primary provider.