The divine promise to increase the number of Jews is coming to fruition, as maternity departments in numerous medical centers are overflowing.
Three hospitals in particular – Emek Medical Center in Afula, Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba and Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv – have just reported a record number of births in the past few weeks.
The number of Israeli deliveries is typically higher during the summer months, maybe because of the colder months of winter during which the babies are conceived. But no one is sure what the real reason is. Some suggest that teachers plan pregnancies in late summer so they can get their three months of maternity leave during the beginning of the school year…
There were 1,518 deliveries at Soroka in July, breaking its all-time record. Since 2012, the average number of July births has been nearly 1,400, so this year, the figure is almost 10% higher. The Beersheba hospital has many Bedouin births in addition to those of Jewish mothers, bringing the annual total of about 17,000.
Soroka has more deliveries in Israel except for Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek, whose main campus and Bikur Cholim Hospital branch together deliver some 22,000 babies annually – reputedly more than any other hospital in the world.
Sourasky’s Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital recorded 1,014 births in July – also a nearly 10% increase over last July; since then, the hospital opened a luxurious new maternity ward with private rooms and a new neonatal unit.
Emek Medical Center produced 392 infants last month, compared to 341 in July 2017. The Israeli fertility rate is 3.11 children per woman of childbearing age. This is significantly higher than that of other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that represents 34 developed countries, who have an average fertility rate of 1.7 children per mother.
In the past, Israeli women have given birth to more babies following wars, but there was no such major military clash in the past year.
Obstetrics departments around the country are very eager to attract women to give birth because the National Insurance Institute provides a generous allotment to hospitals for delivering babies; multiple births mean a much higher grant due to the extra costs of treating premature infants. As a result, the hospitals compete with each other by offering free birthing classes, comfortable delivery rooms, a free night in a “baby hotel” and even meals prepared by chefs.