As we're now less than a month away from the arrival of B2- with the due date being mid-July, I thought it was time to chat a bit about some of the customs and traditions, as well as the halacha, around a Jewish delivery.
When you talk about a Jewish delivery, it can become quite a complicated thing.
The first thing I think we should discuss is a notion that you can't deliver on Shabbat. In fact, the highest law in Judaism is the respect of life- which means that every other law can be broken if it actively saves a life. This includes the Shabbat. Obviously we aren't that Orthodox, but any woman can take a few steps to ensure that she is doing the best she can to observe the Shabbat while going to the hospital. Most of us will have already signed all the hospital admittance paperwork, thereby avoiding writing on Shabbat. Additionally we will likely not bring anything extra with us that we don't need, thereby avoiding too much or unnecessary carrying on Shabbat. If you will be taking a taxi you can put the money in an envelope for the driver ahead of time- in fact, from a halacha standpoint you are better off being driven by a non-Jew, so as not to violate additional laws by driving.
The next thing to discuss is medical interventions to induce labor. Lots of resources tell us that we should allow our delivery to come in it's own time, and avoid any medical interventions. Delivery can be a dangerous thing (it certainly was for me last time) and we don't want to speed up the time we need to be in danger in anyway. Since we're striving for a natural delivery anyways, it's nice to think that we'll be observing a Jewish tradition by trying to avoid Pitocin, breaking my bag of waters or other means to speed along delivery.
But let's be clear- the law states that it's advisable to let G-d work in his own time. This says nothing about an epidural or other pain medications, only states that we shouldn't induce labor unnecessarily, nor should we try to schedule it at our convenience. On a larger halacha note, a major reason why women are exempt from many Jewish laws is not because they aren't important, or because they shouldn't do the mitzvot, but because of childbirth. It happens when it happens, and even if that's on Yom Kipuur, childbirth comes first for a woman. How unfair would it be to be breaking the laws in the pursuit of a healthy child and mother?
The last thing to discuss is what to do with Daddy. As many of you may know, Jewish practices involve a certain amount of restrictions between a man and a woman when she is having her menstrual cycle, called a period of Niddah. When a woman is pregnant, she has a similar status, called yoledet.
I've already shared our birthplan with you, which makes clear the intricate and necessary involvement of Working Dad as part of the birthing process. However, according to Jewish halacha and tradition, it would be impossible for Working Dad to be part of the delivery process, since being a yoledet or in a state of niddah means that he shouldn't be seeing any parts of my body, nor should he be touching me.
Again, though, I reference back to the point of law which holds human life as the highest value. If there is no one else to support you, or help you, then by all means Dad- jump in!
When the baby has been successfully delivered, we have the opportunity to say different prayers thanking G-d for the delivery of new life, and the health of baby and mom.
For a boy, we say a special prayer: HaTov VeHameitiv, for a girl we say the Shehecheyanu. Why the different blessings? There is a really great D'var Torah here on that, but in a nutshell it's about how we look at our boys and girls. The prayer for a boy is about how the boy will go out into the world, and be called upon to fulfill the mitzvot and commandments. Additionally he will go out into the world and make money, and be responsible for his parents. The prayer for a girl is a thankful prayer thanking G-d, but doing so a bit more privately. A girl comes to her family, and costs money in the form of a dowry.
There are many different authorities who state that either prayer is appropriate for the occasion, and I personally lean towards the Shehecheyanu in both occasions. There are lots of great resources for Jewish deliveries and Jewish pregnancies- just a few I've seen/flipped through for you to take a look at.
Are you having a more traditional Jewish Delivery? Have you given any thought to these traditions?