Breastfeeding characteristics and reasons to stop breastfeeding

Michal Shani, Eric Shinwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Decision making concerning breastfeeding is a complicated process with many variables influencing the decision to breastfeed or not. Objective: To study breastfeeding patterns among Israeli women and to understand why and when women stop breastfeeding. Methods: Questionnaires were distributed to the mothers in the Maternity Department at Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot. The questionnaires included demographic data and questions relating to their current desire to breastfeed and their previous breastfeeding experience. The women were contacted by phone after 4-6 months and the actual breastfeeding history was noted. Women who were still breastfeeding at that time were contacted again 12-15 months after delivery. Results: During the study period, there were 733 births in the hospital. Approximately 600 questionnaires were distributed and 515 (86%) women responded. Four hundred and seventy (91%) of the mothers were contacted by phone 4-6 months after delivery. The results showed that 87% of the women started breastfeeding, while 51% breastfed their babies for at least 3 months, 25% for at least 6 months and 8% breastfed their babies for one year. Women born in Ethiopia breastfed their babies for significantly longer periods than women of any other origin. Women who defined themselves as ultra orthodox, breastfed their babies significantly longer then women who defined themselves as religious, traditional or secular. The study revealed that 70% of the women did not receive any assistance with breastfeeding outside the hospital and 42% of the women stop breastfeeding because of "insufficient milk". Conclusions: The rate of initiation of breastfeeding is high among Israeli women in our survey. Breastfeeding duration is higher today than in previous reports for Israeli women in the 1970's and 1980's. Women who were born in Ethiopia breastfed their child for a longer duration than women who were born elsewhere. Women who defined themselves as ultra orthodox breastfed longer then women who defined themselves in any other way. The most common reason to stop breastfeeding is "insufficient milk", which in most cases is a reversible condition.

Original languageHebrew
Pages (from-to)426-428+486
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2003


  • Breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding rate
  • Decision making
  • Discontinuation of breastfeeding
  • Israel


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