Halachot of Nursing

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How Long to Nurse For

  1. A woman shouldn't stop nursing unless she became pregnant or she needs to for her health or another need. According to Kabbalah there is a reason to continue nursing up to 24 months.[1]
  2. Generally a woman shouldn't stop nursing in order to become pregnant because stopping to nurse takes away from the nutrition of the baby.[2]
  3. If a woman is relatively older or the baby is relatively older and the couple hasn't fulfilled pru urevu the halacha could change and it would be permitted to stop nursing to become pregnant.[3] Some say that this is only true after the baby is at least 6 months old.[4]
  4. Once a child stops nursing it is permitted for the baby to restart nursing until they are two years old. Once they are two years old and they stopped they can't restart. Stopping to nurse means that the baby didn't nurse for three days. If they stopped because they were sick it doesn't count as though they stopped. If the baby's health is endangered they can start again to nurse.[5]

Modesty

  1. Modest women cover themselves when nursing in front of other people.[6]
  2. It is permitted to nurse in the bathroom and it isn't a concern of feeding food to someone in the bathroom since the baby is small and the food isn't forbidden, even though generally we don't eat in the bathroom.[7]

Waking up at Night

  1. A woman who is getting up at night to nurse doesn't need to wash her hands each time, however, it is a righteous practice to do so.[8]

Regarding all the aspects of waking up at night, including Asher Yatzar, Birchot Hatorah and Netilat Yadayim see Waking_up_in_the_Middle_of_the_Night.

Bracha

  1. Some women who are nursing have a practice to make a shehakol on something prior to nursing, though this isn’t necessary they will be blessed.[9]

Fast Days

  1. Someone who is sick may eat meat during the nine days and even during the week that Tisha B'av falls out. Similarly, a woman who is nursing and the child is weak and if the mother doesn't eat meat that will negatively impact the baby it is permitted to eat meat.[10]
  2. A nursing woman doesn't have to fast on Tanit Ester as long as it is within 24 months after the baby was born and she feels very weak.[11]
  3. A woman who is nursing needs to fast on Tisha B'Av unless the child is sick and the doctors assess that the fast for the mother will harm the baby.[12] In such situations a person should consult their Rabbi.
  4. A pregnant woman, a nursing woman, and a woman who gave birth within the last 30 days may eat on Tisha B'Av which falls out on Shabbat and is delayed to Sunday. However, they shouldn't eat for pleasure but whatever is necessary.[13]

Shabbat

  1. According to Ashkenazim, it is only permissible to nurse on Shabbat if the infant feeds directly from the mother. A nursing mother who is experiencing pain may express excess milk if it goes directly to waste and is not collected in a cup or container.[14]
  2. According to Sephardim, a woman who is nursing and the baby doesn't want to nurse, to avoid a lot of discomfort it is permissible to express the milk but it should go to waste immediately, such as nursing into a disgusting cup or onto the ground.[15]
  3. While it is permitted to nurse a child on Shabbos a woman may not pump extra milk to have for a later time as she would be transgressing the melacha of mefarek (extracting)[16]. However in the event that the woman is in pain she may express her milk directly into a sink[17]. In the event that this is not practical, the Poskim permit one to use a pump providing that there is soap or vinegar in the bottle that would immediately render the milk useless[18]. She should then pour the milk directly into the sink when she is done. If she does not have a manual pump and is in significant pain she may even ask a non-Jew to turn on an electric pump for her[19]. If she knows prior to Shabbos that she will need to express milk due to pain and she does not have a manual pump, she would be permitted, on Friday, to set her pump to turn on with a Shabbos clock.[20]

Meat and Milk

  1. A woman who is nursing and needs to drink milk within six hours of eating meat may do so as long as one hour passed after having eaten meat. It is preferable that she wash out her teeth so there is no meat stuck there when she eats milk.[21]
  2. Human milk is considered parve, nonetheless, it is prohibited to have together with meat because it looks like cow milk. If it fell into a meat food, it is nullified by a majority of the meat dish.[22]

Sources

  1. Hachupa Vhanesuin 34:44, Ben Ish Chai Emor II n. 13, Pitchei Teshuva 81:16 citing Adney Paz, Yitzchak Yiranen 2:2:2, Refuah Sheleimah p. 156
  2. Sefer Puah v. 3 p. 321-2 quoting Rav Shlomo Fischer
  3. Sefer Puah citing Darkei Tahara c. 19 p. 257
  4. Sefer Puah citing Olah Shel Torah 6:13
  5. Gemara Ketubot 60a, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 81:7
  6. Yalkut Yosef (Otzar Dinim L’isha 60:36, p. 800)
  7. Vavey Haamudim v. 38 p. 50 from Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein
  8. Yalkut Yosef (Otzar Dinim L’isha 1:19)
  9. Yalkut Yosef (Otzar Dinim L’isha 1:19)
  10. Yalkut Yosef 551:17
  11. Yalkut Yosef OC 686:4
  12. Yalkut Yosef (Siman 554 HaChayavim B’tanit, no. 3)
  13. Yalkut Yosef (Siman 554 Hachayavim B'Tanit no. 4)
  14. 39 Melachos (vol 2, pg 356)
  15. Yalkut Yosef (Otzar Dinim L'isha 28:9)
  16. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 328:34, Biur Halacha s.v. V’Tineck
  17. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 330:8
  18. Taz 320:12, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 36:20 footnote 61
  19. S.A. 328:17
  20. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11) quoting Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz, Shlita. Although if one can secure for themselves a manual pump that would be more Halachically preferable as Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was under the impression that by using the electric pump you are causing the motor to work harder. Therefore even when one would rely on this leniency one should secure the pump onto oneself prior to the time that the machine is set to go on.
  21. Torat HaYoledet 62:3, Yalkut Yosef (Otzar Dinim L'isha 49:3)
  22. Shulchan Aruch YD 87:4