Health Ministry encourages breastfeeding

Newborns will not be fed baby formula in hospitals unless the mother specifically opposes breastfeeding.

July 1, 2012 23:29
2 minute read.
Breastfeeding illustrative photo

A woman breastfeeding 370. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Starting September 1, newborns will not be fed baby formula unless the mother specifically opposes breastfeeding after receiving an explanation of its many health benefits or if nursing the baby would constitute a medical danger, according to instructions issued on Sunday by Health Ministry medical administration director Prof. Arnon Afek.

The decision is in line with World Health Organization guidelines to encourage breastfeeding.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

If the mother insists that she will not breastfeed, the document said, she must be presented with the option of choosing among two different formula brands – and not only the formula provided to the hospital free by the company that manufactures or imports it. This eliminates the monopoly status of formula companies that existed for many years in return for their provision of free formula to newborns in hospitals.

The ministry and the WHO recommended exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life.

Breastfeeding plus supplements are recommended from then and beyond the first year. Nursing one’s baby provides the best possible nutrition at a critical time and is also beneficial for the mother, the ministry said.

Hospital neonatal departments must prohibit the distribution of baby bottles, formula, baby teas and other baby food. Baby food, including formulas, must not be advertised in hospitals, health clinics and wellbaby (tipat halav) clinics.

The ministry’s document also called for encouraging, supporting and protecting breastfeeding in accordance with the WHO’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.


All staffers at relevant workplaces must receive these instructions in writing, Afek wrote.

The ministry said that all new mothers must be taught directly and through pamphlets about the benefits of breastfeeding and how to do it. The mother must receive assistance at nursing within half an hour of delivery.

Even if mothers are not able to be with their newborns (if they are premature), they should be shown how to pump their breast milk, the ministry said.

Newborns in hospitals should not receive water or formula unless the mother insists. If they wish, new mothers should be given the option of rooming with their newborn, and the infants should be breastfed on demand. Each time the baby is given formula or water, and the amount consumed, must be recorded on the baby’s medical chart.

The ministry said it will conduct checks in the hospital to ensure that instructions – especially the option of two different brands of formula – are carried out.

The provision of free baby formula by the companies has been a comfortable and money-saving arrangement for hospitals because of the cost of providing them, and contracts were signed with the hospitals for exclusivity by the companies.

But as the Health Ministry owns many hospitals, the conflict of interest was clear, especially as ministry officials have made signed commitments to carry out the guidelines of the WHO.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

August 31, 2014
Weizmann scientists bring nature back to artificially selected lab mice