Pregnancy and Labor
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
Kvater at a Bris
- Common practice is that a pregnant woman who is showing should not serve as the kvater at a bris.
Onset of Niddah before Birth
- When does a woman giving birth become a niddah? Certainly if (a) she saw blood, (b) she is on the birthing stool and the doctors say to push, or (c) she can't walk, she is a niddah from that point and on. Some poskim hold that once the contractions are 5 minutes apart she has the status of a niddah, while others disagree.
- Even if the doctor checks and sees that the cervix is 2 centimeters or more open in the 8th or 9th month the woman is still tahor if there wasn't any birth pangs yet.
- If a woman has birth pains and thought she was in labor but it was a false alarm, most poskim are lenient to assume that she isn't tameh.
- The husband may stay in the birthing room to provide emotional support but he is forbidden to see the actual birth since he is forbidden to see the areas which are usually clothed uncovered when she is a niddah. Furthermore, he may never see the vagina opening of a woman uncovered. It is equally forbidden for the to watch looking through glass.
- Some say that the water breaking doesn't render her a niddah but it has the status of a veset.
- If there’s no medical need for the baby or mother, many poskim forbid inducing labor early since it involves putting oneself in danger preemptively.
- One should not induce labor unnecessarily, or simply for convenience. It is permissible if it is necessary for medical purposes. One should consult with a rabbi.
- Rav Chaim Palagi and others write of a segulah for a pregnant woman to bite off the pitom of the etrog on Hoshana Rabba, give [[Tzedaka], and recite a special prayer. Rav Ovadia recommends waiting until after Simchat Torah so as not to invalidate the Etrog.
- The Expectant Mother on Halachically Speaking
- Minchat Yitzchak 10:42:2, Halichot Bat Yisrael 13:18
- Rabbi Yisroel Belsky and Rav Pinchas Sheinburg (Yad Lyoledet 15:25). Chazon Ovadia v. 1 p. 313 is lenient for a pregnant woman to go to the cemetery (based on Roke'ach 366, Birkei Yosef 343, Yavetz 2:177). He writes it is only a chumra of some women that they don't go to the cemetery when they are pregnant but they would go to the cemetery for a Yehrzeit so that they don't feel left out. As a proof he cites the Piskei Trumat Hadeshen 132.
- Halachically Speaking
- For the purposes of violating Shabbat to provide medical care for a woman giving birth, the Gemara Shabbat 129a presents three opinions about when she is considered beginning to give birth and the womb is open. One opinion is once she is sitting on the birthing stool, another is from when she sees blood, and the last opinion is from when she can't walk on her own. The Sidrei Tahara 194:25 applies these opinions to the laws of niddah and from any of these points she is a niddah. Based on these opinions in the gemara, Rabbi Willig (Niddah Shiur 120 min. 30-35) concludes that a woman is only tameh if she sees blood, the doctors say that she's giving birth and tell her to push (equivalent to sitting on the birthing stool), or she can't walk. He discussed it as well in Niddah Shiur 117. Igrot Moshe YD 2:75 holds that once she feels birth pains so much that she calls the doctor and birth is imminent that she needs to sit on birthing stool she is considered a niddah. Orot Hatahara 17:12 based on Badei Hashulchan 194:30 writes that the strict law is that even if she can't walk she isn't a niddah.
- Rabbi Willig in previous footnote held that contractions doesn't make a woman a niddah. Orchot Tahara (Rabbi Yitzchak Kahana 19:21 p. 131) writes that a woman in labor is a niddah if 1) she saw blood, 2) she has contractions every five minutes as a pattern, 3) she has strong contractions and can't walk, 4) she feels pressure of the baby coming out, 5) the doctors lies her now on the birthing table because it is time to give birth. Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (Darkei Tahara p. 110) holds that she isn't automatically a niddah when she can't walk, is sitting on the birthing stool, or has contractions 5 minutes apart but they do have the status of a veset. Rav Ovadia Yosef in Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 50-3 is lenient that contractions don't make a woman a niddah. Orot Hataharah 17:11 writes that although some are strict to consider her a niddah if contractions are five minutes apart the minhag is to be lenient.
- Shevet Halevi 4:106 writes that even though it is often the case that a woman's cervix opens up already in the sixth or seventh month, especially if it is her fourth baby or more, she is nonetheless tahora. Based on the Nodeh Beyehuda 116 he writes that since nothing came out when the cervix opened the woman remains tahora. This fits with the Chavot Daat 194:1. Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 57 in discussing this topic cites the Bet Sharim who understands the Rambam (Pirush Mishnayot Niddah 21a) as a proof to the Chavot Daat. See, however, Igrot Moshe YD 2:76 who writes that if it were true that a woman's cervix opened in the last few weeks before the birth she would be automatically tameh. He just argues that it can't be the case since the poskim never discussed this problem. Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (Darkei Tahara p. 110) writes that if the cervix is 4cm open she is tameh. See whattoexpect.com about early labor dilation of up to 3cm in up to weeks before the birth. americanpregnancy.org for some medical discussion of the risks of a weakened cervix.
- The Nachalat Shiva 2:9 (cited by Pitchei Teshuva 194:8) writes that if a woman thought she was in labor she is automatically tameh since once a woman sits on the birthing stool it is considered as though the cervix opened and once it opens automatically blood comes out. Most poskim disagree for one of two reasons: (1) The Chavot Daat 194:1 argues that we only assume that blood automatically comes out when the cervix opens if something actually came out. Since it was a false alarm and don't know anything came out we can assume no blood came out. Nodeh Beyehuda 116 agrees. (2) The Sidrei Tahara 194:25 argues the signs for giving birth includes her not being able to walk, however, since it was a false alarm and we see that she can walk afterwards, we know that she wasn't really in labor such that the cervix opened. Chatom Sofer 179 agrees. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe YD 2:76) prefers the reason of the Sidrei Tahara but the Shiurei Shevet Halevi 194:2:4 seems to side with the Chavot Daat. Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 50-3 is lenient.
- Igrot Moshe YD 2:75. Darkei Tahara p. 111 seems to assume that the husband can be at the door but not in the room.
- Darkei Tahara p. 110. Badei Hashulchan 194:30 writes that the poskim consider a woman to be a niddah after the water breaks. However, Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 54 argues that it doesn't mean she is tameh automatically unless there is blood in the water. He quotes the Mahachavat Hatahara p. 121 in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as being lenient.
- Igrot Moshe YD 2:74, Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 54
- Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igrot Moshe YD 2:94 writes that one should not induce labor because doing so is putting oneself into danger. One should wait for Hashem to bring the baby at its proper time. However, if there's a concern for the medical care of the baby or mother by delaying one can induce labor. Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 54 agrees and cites Shevet Halevi YD 6:128 and Mishneh Halachot 9:184 who also write this. Rabbi Eli Mansour writes the same as well.
- Moed LeKol Chai 24:25, Yafeh LeLev, Taamei Minhagim (pg. 521 paragraph 68). See also Kaf HaChayim (Sofer, 664:60) who says to give the jam to the pregnant woman, especially once she's in labor, and Likutei Mahariach vol. 3 page 106 who records this and also that one should cook the aravot and give the water to a couple that does not yet have children. This is the text of the prayer: "רבונו של עולם, גלוי וידוע לפניך שבשביל שאכלה חוה מעץ הדעת גרמה בחטאה להביא מיתה לעולם, וחבלי יולדה, ואם אני הייתי שם באותו זמן לא הייתי אוכלת ממנו, ולא הייתי נהנית ממנו מכל וכל, כשם שלא רציתי לפסול אתרוג זה בכל ימי החג שעברו, ועתה שפסלתי אותו בשביל שנגמרה מצוותו, ואני לא הייתי עוברת מצוותיך, ותקבל ברצון את תפילתי ואת תחינתי שלא אמות מסיבת העיבור ומסיבת הלידה, והושיעני שתהא הלידה בנקל ובנחת ולא בצער ולא בקושי, ולא תהיה לי ולוולד שום נזק, כי אתה הקל המושיע".
- Chazon Ovadia (Succot pg 449), Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur SA OC 665:3). The Darkei Chaim veShalom 796 also records the Munkatcher Rebbe as making the same recommendation but that the rebbe was unaware of any credible sources for the Segulah