The Gift of Breastfeeding
Dorit Nitzan Kaluski, Alex Leventhal
Dept. of Nutrition, Public Health Services, Israel Ministry of Health, Jerusalem
Breast milk is the optimal food for infant growth and development, the prevention of infectious diseases and mother- child bonding. From the economic perspective, breastfeeding is cost-effective both for the family and society as a whole. The Israeli Ministry of Health encourages breastfeeding as the exclusive source of nutrition for infants in the first 4-6 months of life, with gradual addition of complementary foods thereafter. The promotion of breastfeeding in Israel requires comprehensive national activity with involvement of all the stakeholders. This includes implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and joining the international "Baby Friendly Hospitals" project. Knowledge of breastfeeding should be spread, health professionals should be encouraged to become agents of change, support by breast counselors should be encouraged, post-delivery vacations from work should be prolonged and empowerment of women implemented.