For a country that has a relatively high birth rate, there seems to be a bit of a problem. Nobody seems to know much about babies. Seriously, I kid you not. Aside from that there is an annoying lack of trust in mothers. Apparently we are the last person on earth to know what’s best for our child, and the nurse/midwife/doctor that sets eyes on them for 5 seconds know more than we do. I now understand why so many olim have said to me “never ever listen to Tipat Chalav, they talk the biggest amount of B*lox”.
Here is a small selection of the daft things I have heard from medical “Professionals” [and Rabbis] over the last couple of weeks:
1) Your baby needs to be wearing a babygrow [i,e, long sleeves] all the time. Me: “But its 30 degrees outside, and we don’t generally use the air conditioning”. Tipat Chalav Nurse: “He cannot regulate his body temperature.” Me: “Feel him! He is warm!” Tipat Chalav Nurse: “He is under 3 kilo so he needs to be covered.” (Oh for goodness sake. Surely I know if my own baby is cold??!)
2) “You need to supplement your baby with formula as he is weak and a bit jaundiced.” Me: “He clearly isn’t that weak as he is eating non-stop. And jaundice is normal in breastfed babies.” Midwife: “If you ever want to get out of this hospital, you need to give him formula. “Me: BUT HE IS EATING! WHY MESS WITH THE PROCESS???”
3) You need to give your baby Vitamin D drops every day. Me: “But he is a summer baby??! My first was born in JANUARY in ENGLAND and he managed, why do you imagine a baby born in September in a hot country to a mother who does not wear a burka would have a problem manufacturing Vitamin D???” Tipat Chalav Nurse: “Here in Israel, this is what we do.” Me: Sigh.
4) You have to fast on Yom Kippur as your baby is over 1 week old and you are not considered a Cholah (sick person). Me: “Thats fabulous. But the rabbis seem to be a little misinformed about how babies feed, as week 2 is growth spurt time and a nursing mother in a hot country needs to drink ALL DAY.” Rabbi: “Well you need to stay in bed and rest and let your husband take care of your toddler.” Me: “And how exactly is that going to help with my liquid requirements??!” Rabbi: “If you do decide to drink then it’s a tiny sip every 6 minutes.” Me: “I remember learning that in school, and I also remember thinking ‘does anyone actually do that?’ and besides, that wont be anywhere near enough fluid in hot weather. Trust me. And I have one more question. Where were all the women when these halachot were being enacted???” (Answer: probably at home feeding their babies).
Anyway, as it turned out, several of my religious friends later informed me that according to their tradition its completely forbidden to fast when nursing a tiny baby…