Breastfeeding week is celebrated around the world and in Israel in the first seven days of August every year, and this year's theme in Israel is: Efsharibari to breastfeed – breast milk from the first drop.
The first hours and days of the baby's life are an important window of opportunity to establish breastfeeding. During this period, it is important to support the mother to help her breastfeed successfully and consistently.
The Ministry of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding, without additional foods, until the age of six months given the unique contribution of breast milk and breastfeeding itself to the growth, health and development of the baby and child and the health of the woman.
The breastfeeding process is a skill that the mother and baby must develop together and gradually.
Breast milk is right for the baby from the first drop
The first milk produced after birth, despite its small amount, is rich in proteins and antibodies that are essential for babies in the beginning of their life. It helps protect the baby from diseases and infections and contributes to the development of the digestive system and brain.
So you decided to breastfeed! When and how do you start?
The golden hour – the first hour after birth, when the baby is awake, is the time for skin-to-skin contact with the baby and initial breastfeeding experience in the delivery room. It is important to ask the delivery room staff for assistance in connecting the baby to the breast.
How will you know when the baby wants to breastfeed?
As the mother stays with the baby 24 hours in the maternity hospital, the initial bond is strengthened. The time with the baby helps the mother understand when the baby wants to eat and increases the chance of breastfeeding success.
The baby directs the time and the duration of breastfeeding. Feeding the baby on demand and not according to quantities or hours establishes the hunger-eating-satiety mechanism, which is an important for reducing the risk of obesity.
Crying is a late sign of hunger. It is advised to breastfeed when the baby shows signs such as excessive movement, stretching, bringing the hand to the mouth. It is not recommended to wait until the baby cries. If it seems to you that the amount of milk in the first days is excessive, know that it is normal. In the first days until the colostrum turns to milk, the breastfeeding is more frequent: 8-12 times a day and not in regular intervals. Frequent breastfeeding in the first period encourages milk production, strengthens the baby's sucking pattern and is associated with long term breastfeeding success.
How will you know that the baby is breastfed enough?
The diapers tell us. We expect in the first period 4 to 6 diapers with urine and 2 to 4 diapers with feces. The color of the feces should be mustard, with a texture like cottage cheese.
What are the five steps that will help you establish breastfeeding and succeed in the long-term?
- Skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately after birth and the start of breastfeeding in the first half hour after birth.
- Full or almost full stay of the mother and baby in maternity homes and convalescent homes.
- Avoid giving bottles and pacifiers to the bab until breastfeeding is established. If feeding from a bottle is necessary, it should be done with breastfeeding support and the guidance of a professional.
- Get help from professional staff members in the maternity hospital and in the community (family health centers and HMO's).
- Participate in support groups for breastfeeding women.
The support of the spouse and family are very important for the breastfeeding mother: for example, bringing the baby to breastfeed, serving a meal to the breastfeeding mother, changing the diaper after breastfeeding and more. The partnership between the couple will contribute to the development and establishment of the relationship between them and the baby.
Is it possible that you will not be able to produce enough milk for the baby?
Most mothers can produce milk in the amount the baby needs, and the amount of milk is rarely not sufficient. The secret is in the breastfeeding itself: the more you breastfeed according to the baby's demand, the more milk will be produced in the amount the baby needs.
Early use of bottles and pacifiers before establishing breastfeeding may cause difficulties to breastfeed and affect the amount of milk the mother produces.
Know that breastfeeding should not be painful. If you feel pain while breastfeeding it is important to contact a professional to seek help and advice. Usually, the problem is with the breastfeeding position or the baby's grasping of the breast while breastfeeding.
Still not sure whether you want to breastfeed?
Breastfeeding and breast milk provide a unique contribution to the growth, health and development of the baby and child. Breast milk provides an optimal basis of immune protection and provides suitable components for the building of the brain and the development of the immune system. A baby who is not breastfed is more exposed to allergies, infections, obesity, cradle death and even diabetes.
The importance of breastfeeding to the mother – lower risk of breast cancer, uterine and ovarian cancer, diabetes, heart problems and hypertension.
Breast milk from the first drop, even when it is not possible to breastfeed directly from the breast
Sometimes, mainly for medical reasons, breastfeeding is not possible immediately after birth. In such cases, it is important to check the possibility of feeding the baby with breast milk.
Skilled staff – at your disposal! In Israel, the healthcare system offers a trained team that waits for you in the maternity wards and later in the family health centers and the community.
It is important to arrive at a family health center for a follow-up appointment within a week or two and continue breastfeeding support.
A group of parents that deals with various topics, including meetings on breastfeeding.
For the list of meetings and registration, you are invited to enter the link: tiponet.org.il
The hotline is staffed by nurses of the Ministry of Health family health centers, lactation consultants, sleep consultants, and nutritionists for preschoolers.
Service is available in the following languages: English, Arabic, Russian, Amharic and French.
The treatment provided to families at these centers is based on the clinical information found in the medical records.
The center's operating hours: Sunday 4pm to 9pm, Friday 8am to 1pm.
Contact the hotline: via the Ministry of Health Hotline *5400 extension 9
More on breastfeeding at the Ministry of Health website
Tips for successful breastfeeding
Common difficulties with breastfeeding
Pumping mother's milk
Storing and defrosting breast milk
The importance of breastfeeding
Feeding the baby in the first year
Breastfeeding and returning to work
Breastfeeding and feeding the baby - the Ministry of Health
Information and research on breastfeeding at the World Health Organization (WHO) websitePosition paper – promoting and supporting breastfeeding – Atid Association and the Ministry of Health (Hebrew)
Various graphic files on breastfeeding: posters, logos, images for social media and more (Hebrew)