Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Nausea, hunger, and halacha

6 June, 2006

Question:

Hi,

I am in my first trimester of pregnancy and am frequently nauseous and have difficulty eating. I was wondering whether it is permissible for me to eat at times when I am normally not allowed to eat, if I feel hungry or if I think it will help my nausea. A few examples that have come up:

1. If we are invited out for Shabbos lunch, and it is a longish walk, I need to eat before we go but sometimes I do not feel up to drinking a whole half-cup of grape juice first (as I would need to in order to make Kiddush).
2. Last week, after lighting candles, I became incredibly thirsty, but I waited to drink until my husband came home from shul and made Kiddush. Was I required to wait? And even if not, is it preferable for me to wait, or is it more important that I remain hydrated even if its only a 45-minute wait?
3. My pregnancy book suggests, as a way of staving off nausea, that I keep crackers by the side of my bed and eat them before getting out of bed. This would mean eating before washing my hands, so I have not been doing it; but am I permitted to? And if I do, would I say a bracha first?
4. I recently became very hungry shortly before Shabbos, and the only thing readily available to eat was bread. Even though I was taught that one should not wash and eat a meal shortly before Shabbos, I did so anyhow because I was pretty sure that if I didnt eat, I would become nauseous and would probably have a hard time eating anything for the rest of the night. (Since the purpose of the halacha is so that one can enjoy the Shabbos meal, I figured that was okay; there was no one around whom I could ask.)

I realize this is not the type of question your site is designed to answer; if you feel that I would be better of addressing this to a rav, please let me know and I will do so. Thank you very much for your help.


Answer:

BeSha'ah tovah!  We hope that your morning sickness abates soon.

1.  In this case, we suggest that your husband make kiddush and drink the juice, and you eat some mezonot.

2. Drinking water for the purposes of hydration, particularly when a woman is expecting, is fully permitted between candle lighting and kiddush.

3. You could keep an old-fashioned pitcher and basin by your bed, so that you can wash negelvasser before eating.

4. Ideally, you would always keep other food around.  However, in a situation such as you describe, where you were very hungry and no other food was available, you were permitted to eat bread.

You can always address your questions to a rav.  However, the rule of thumb is that if medically indicated, you should eat and, especially in the hot summer, drink.  (It's very important not to let yourself get dehydrated.)  Whenever possible, arrange your environment to facilitate doing so without any halachic questions.


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