Dilation before labor
19 May, 2005
Thank you so much for your reply to my earlier question about stripping membranes and in general, for this incredible service. And thank you for your good wishes. Boruch Hashem I was delivered of a healthy boy two days ago.
Forgive me for taking my question a bit further but I want to understand:
In the past, when I was dilated before giving birth ( even as much as 4 centimeters, a few days to actually giving birth) Rabonim said that I was not a nidda and I believe that on your site you state that dilation alone does not make a woman a niddah.
Is it fair then to infer that it is the entrance of something foreign (in the case of stripping membranes, the doctor's fingers) as opposed to the actual opening of the uterus that makes a woman a nidda? Or is it that dilation does not halachically constitute uterine opening and if not, why? It would seem to be the quintessential expression thereof?
Thank you again.
Yours is an excellent question!
We do state on our site that "if a woman's cervix is dilated by a few centimeters early in labor (or earlier in her pregnancy), but she has not had any bleeding, she does not yet become either a niddah or a yoledet."
The distinction is not between the introduction of a foreign object and natural opening. Even if the cervix opens on its own to emit something (as in childbirth), we assume that there must have been some bleeding. This halacha is actually more explicit in the early sources than that regarding insertion of a foreign object.
The case of dilation of a few centimeters prior to labor is distinct from other cases of the uterus opening. Practically, women can walk around slightly dilated for months without labor being imminent. There is no historical halachic record of such women having been considered niddah for months! Additionally, what is being observed at this point is the dilation of the external os, the outer opening of the cervix into the vagina. According to most opinions, such an opening does not have halachic consequences.
Near delivery, when we are more stringent regarding dilation, the cervix flattens out and therefore the opening that is observed (or caused by fingers) is likely to be the internal os, which is the opening from the uterus into the cervix.
This internet service does not preclude, override or replace the psak of any rabbinical authority. It is the responsibility of the questioner to inform us of any previous consultation or ruling. As even slight variation in circumstances may have Halachic consequences, views expressed concerning one case may not be applied to other, seemingly similar cases. All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.
For further questions or comments:
The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha Site is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefited from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.
Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under yoatzot.org.