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EfshariBari Breastfeeding – a Healthy Start in Life

Important information for deciding whether to breastfeed: health, developmental and cognitive benefits of breastfeeding and their impact later on in life

It is healthy and possible to breastfeed. It is my choice.

Breastfeeding is supposed to be a natural affair, but in many cases it’s a challenge for mothers and babies. The need for a relatively quick return to work also creates challenges that women of previous generations did not usually encounter. In order for you to decide whether to breastfeed, how and for how long, it is important to recognize the many benefits that research has shown for breastfeeding, first and foremost for babies but also for mothers.

Breastfeeding stages

Primary postpartum milk is colostrum, which, despite there being little of it, is rich with proteins and antibodies essential for babies at the beginning of their lives. Beyond the emotional connection that will be established between you and your baby, many studies have shown that breastfeeding has clear health benefits for you and the baby especially as part of the “First 1000 days” dietary guidelines.

Breastfeeding benefits for babies

  • Breastfeeding infants are significantly less likely to develop gastrointestinal infections (50% less) and respiratory tract infections (33% less).
  • Breastfeeding infants have 36-50% lower risk of cot death.
  • The risk of breastfed infants developing obesity is 26% lower than that of infants on infant formula. This figure has consistently been found in over 100 studies on this topic.
  • Breastfeeding infants receive antibodies from their mother through milk, developing a stronger immune system.

Note: Many studies have found that breastfed babies have a higher IQ due to the fact that the component required for developing the brain is based on fatty acids, which are found in human milk.

Breastfeeding benefits for mothers

  • The risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease is lower among breastfeeding women.
  • Breastfeeding helps to contract the uterus, burns calories thus helping breastfeeding mothers to return to their previous weight.

More benefits of breastfeeding (Hebrew)

Important: the choice whether to breastfeed or not – is yours alone

Breastfeeding is part of mothers’ and children’s health rights, which is recognized as part of human rights to life and dignity protected by the Israeli Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and court rulings. Accordingly, there are laws, procedures and initiatives to encourage breastfeeding.

Anytime Anywhere: Breastfeeding is important to mother and baby’s health and one of its benefits is that it can be done anytime and anywhere. In Israel, there is no prohibition on breastfeeding anywhere, so breastfeeding is allowed everywhere, including in public spaces, wherever and whenever it suits you.

Breastfeeding rooms in government units and workplaces: The Civil Service By-Laws require the establishment of an accessible breastfeeding room in each government unit. In addition, the Workplace Initiative to Encourage Breastfeeding encourages employers to allocate a designated work space for breastfeeding or breast milk expressing and thus creates a situation in which everyone benefits – both employers and nursing mothers.

Before returning to work, it is advisable to learn how to store and defrost breast milk in preparation for joining educational frameworks (creches or toddler nurseries) and keeping expressed breast milk in the workplace.

For further guidance, you can always contact the “Tipat Halav” center closest to your home.

To learn more about breastfeeding, visit the Ministry of Health website

Further reading

World Health Organization (WHO) Breastfeeding Information and Research

A joint position document on the importance of breastfeeding on behalf of "Atid" – Israeli Dieticians and Nutritionists Association and the Ministry of Health.(Hebrew)