Giving Birth on Shabbat

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Preparation for the hospital

  1. It would be ideal to:
    1. register in the hospital prior to Shabbos so as to minimize unnecessary forms to fill out[1]
    1. have a bag prepared with all the woman's essentials for the hospital[2]
    1. pay a taxi company prior to Shabbos,[3] or prepare the money (plus tip)[4] 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)[5]
    1. disconnect the interior car lights in the event that the car will have to be used on Shabbos
    1. stay close to the hospital if possible. If this causes undue hardship one need not follow through with these arrangements[6]
    1. set the number to the doctor, dula, birthing coach, taxi etc. on speed dial on one's cell phone so as to minimize the amount of buttons to be pressed[7]

Transportation to hospital

  1. It is halachically preferable to:
    1. have a non-Jew drive[8] to the hospital[9]
    1. instruct the non-Jewish driver to take the suitcase from the house to the car and the car to the hospital
    2. drive to the hospital (in a situation where no no-Jew is available) by committing as few acts of melacha as possible (i.e. when there is no car behind him and it is not a safety concern to avoid using the blinkers then one should refrain from doing so etc.)
    3. start the car in an unusual fashion such as holding the key in an awkward manner
    1. turn the switch that governs the inside bulbs to "on",[10] thereby preventing the lights from going on and off when the door is opened and closed
  1. 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.[11]

Arrival at the Hospital

  1. Since the only heter of driving is predicated on the fact that it is for someone who's life is in danger, once the woman arrives there is no longer a need to be michalel shabbos with the car anymore. One should therefore stop the car in front of the hospital entrance as once it's stopped it can't be driven again unless someone's life is in danger. A parking ticket or other such fine is no reason to allow one to move the car and one should therefore have a non-Jew move it for him. The reason for this is that should the gas run out it would cause damage to the car and amira l'akum is permitted in place of monetary loss.

Arival at hospital

  1. One should try to be cognizant of the fact that:
    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).[12] In fact, if she has a strong need to have her husband walk in with her he may do so as well.[13]
    1. similarly, the elevator should only be used by the expectant woman and any significant other should take the stairs unless she wants them with her.

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.[14] 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[15]
    1. she sees a flow of blood[16]
    1. if she is on the birthing table

Post delivery

  1. After the delivery one may not have a non-Jew call the home of the parents/in-laws to notify them of the gender of the baby since there is no real medical need to notify any of them of such information it would not warrant asking a non-Jew to do melacha in order to accomplish such a deed.[17]

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[18] (dangerously ill). In days 1-3 post partum, if she[19] or her doctor[20] feels that desecrating the shabbos is not necessary, anyone may be michalel shabbos (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.[21]

Resources

  1. |colspan = "3"|See M.B. 330:1 who initiates all kind of preparation prior to giving birth
  2. |colspan = "3"|It should be noted that not all poskim permit one to take a suitcase when there is no eruv, however since nowadays many consider a change of clothes to be “essential” to the woman's well being one may prepare some sort of bag to take along with you in the event that she goes into labor over Shabbos
  3. |Sefer Yad L'Yoledes 4:1b
  4. |Kovetz Ohr Hashabbos 8
  5. |SSK”h 32:55
  6. |Sefer Yad L'Yoledes 4:1f
  7. |Oral Psak heard from R' Yitzchok Berkowitz Shlita
  8. |Be'er Moshe 6:51
  9. |As reported by EMT hatzalah volunteers Shmuly Neuman K-38 and Ari Epstein F-212, the response time of hatzalah as compared to other private ambulance companies is significantly shorter. Therefore, if time is of essence, one need not hesitate to call hatzalah and in fact one should do so
  10. |when one forgot to remove the bulbs prior to Shabbos
  11. |Igros Moshe O.C. 1:132g
  12. |Chazon Ish O.C. 50:9 says to walk right behind a non-Jew, see Yalkot Yosef 4:28, 29, Rivevos Ephraim 5:268
  13. |Minchas Shlomo:1, Hilchos Refuah 1 pg. 36
  14. |Shevet Halaivi 8:88
  15. |Shabbos 129a
  16. |S.A. 330:3
  17. |Psak said b'shem R' Tuvia Goldstien zt”l, see Nishmas Shabbos 4:436,437. In the event that the woman is very sick or the parents are excessively nervous and beside themselves with worry there may be grounds to have a non-Jew call the hospital to find out the specifics of her health
  18. |Shabbos 129a, S.A. 330:4
  19. |M.B. 330:14
  20. |Bach 330:7
  21. |S.A. 328:17