Giving Birth on Shabbat

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Preparation for the hospital

  1. It would be ideal to: pay a taxi company prior to Shabbos,[1] or prepare the money (plus tip)[2] in an envelope beforehand (this is advisable as if one gives a very large bill it is prohibited to accept change back from the driver on Shabbos)[3]
  2. If it is difficult a woman who in the ninth month of her pregnancy does not need to arrange to stay close to the hospital for Shabbat in order to avoid traveling on Shabbat. [4]

Transportation to hospital

  1. It is halachically preferable to have a non-Jew drive to the hospital. [5]
  2. Anyone who will help the expectant mother in both the physiological and/or psychological realms is permitted to be picked up and driven along with the woman. Included in this may be a husband, mother, mother-in-law, dula, birthing coach etc. assuming that they will provide physical and/or mental support to the woman in question.[6]

Arival at hospital

  1. The hospital may have electric doors, therefore only manual doors should be used unless this causes her undue hardship (as she may be in no condition to find a manual door).[7] In fact, if she has a strong need to have her husband walk in with her he may do so as well.[8]

Actual labor

  1. In the event that a woman feels any contractions, even if she is not certain if it is true labor, she may make any phone calls necessary.[9] There are three other signs however that would allow a woman to do any melacha, even acts that are usually biblically prohibited (i.e. turning on lights, driving etc.). These signs are:
    1. she cannot walk unassisted[10]
    2. she sees a flow of blood[11]
    3. if she is on the birthing table [12]

Post partum halachic leniencies

  1. For the first 7 days following the delivery of the placenta she is considered a choleh sha'yaish bo sakana[13] (dangerously ill). In days 1-3 post partum, if she[14] or her doctor[15] feels that desecrating the Shabbat is not necessary, anyone may violate Shabbat (despite her wishes not to) if they even think she might be in danger. The laws of days 4-7 are more stringent, in that if she feels there is no need to desecrate the shabbos, then one may not do so for her, providing that the doctor agrees with her. From day eight and on she has the status of choleh sha'ein bo sakana and my only ask a non-Jew to do anything that she needs.[16]


  1. Special thanks to Rabbi Heshy Kahn for this article.


  1. Sefer Yad L'Yoledes 4:1b
  2. Kovetz Ohr Hashabbos 8
  3. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 32:55
  4. Sefer Yad L'Yoledes 4:1f, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 36:6
  5. Be'er Moshe 6:51
  6. Igros Moshe O.C. 1:132g
  7. Chazon Ish O.C. 50:9 says to walk right behind a non-Jew, see Yalkot Yosef 4:28, 29, Rivevos Ephraim 5:268
  8. Minchas Shlomo:1, Hilchos Refuah 1 pg. 36
  9. Shevet Halevi 8:88
  10. Shabbos 129a
  11. S.A. 330:3
  12. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11)
  13. Shabbos 129a, S.A. 330:4
  14. M.B. 330:14
  15. Bach 330:7
  16. S.A. 328:17