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Pill and postpartum vestot

7 February, 2005

Question:

My son was born on November 6 and I was finally able to go to the mikva on January 11. I started taking Cyclen on Monday January 10. I am also currently breastfeeding (except for the occasional bottle of formula). As far as I can tell, my milk has not decreased (I seem to be nursing about the same amount). Based on the 28 day Cyclen my fourth week would start on Monday January 31 and thus I am assuming that I will be getting my period on Thursday February 3. Am I supposed to separate from my husband on that day ? Also, how about next month? Which days am I supposed to be separating on if I have my period but I am nursing?


Answer:

Mazel tov on the birth of your son!

There are three basic approaches to the laws of separation while taking hormonal contraceptives. You should ask your rabbi which approach to take, or get back to us to request a specific ruling. These are the schools of thought:

  1. One approach is to ignore the hormonal contraceptives.  You would keep the usual postpartum vesatot (described below).
  2. Another approach is to consider only the effects of the hormones. You would initially keep a veset during the 2-4 days after cessation of active pills for that month, when you are likely to begin bleeding. (This would be February 2-4.) If, for three consecutive months, you begin bleeding at a consistent interval after you stop taking the active pills, you would establish a veset kavua. This veset is based on the interval from the cessation of active pills, rather than on the interval between periods.
  3. A third approach is to initially ignore the hormones, as in (1). But if, for three consecutive months, you begin bleeding at a consistent interval after you stop taking the active pills, then you establish a veset kavua as in (2).

If you are following approach (1) or (3), and ignoring the pills at least initially, you should follow the usual postpartum rules:

The days of separation are calculated based on menstrual history, which is usually considered wiped clean by pregnancy. It generally takes a number of weeks until the postpartum bleeding stops and you can use the mikveh. From that point on, you are not required to separate from your husband until after your first menstruation postpartum. 

The first day of your first postpartum menstrual period will be the basis of your calculations.  You will separate the following month on the Hebrew date. You will add observance of the interval during the third menstrual cycle (when it becomes possible to calculate).    

There are different halachic opinions regarding the onah beinonit (the thirtieth day). According to some authorities, you do not observe onah beinonit for two years postpartum. Other authorities rule that nowadays, since periods typically resume not long postpartum, nursing does not cancel out onah beinonit. There is a similar debate about the possibility of establishing a veset kavua, which could be relevant with hormonal contraceptives. It is best to ask your local rabbi what the custom is in your community. For further details, please see our article on the the Laws of Niddah for the Breastfeeding Woman.


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