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

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Dehydration on Yom Kippur

10 September, 2009

Question:

I am 7 weeks pregnant, with my 3rd child. With my 1st, I was about 11 weeks at 9 Av, and got dehydrated, nearly passing out the following day. With my 2nd, I got dehydrated at 16 weeks – on just a regular day. That episode required 6 hours in the ER and 3L of IV fluids. With both previous pregnancies I had terrible morning sickness; so far this pregnancy I have found that if I eat in the morning the sickness is much less, in fact, sometimes avoidable altogether.

I will be alone with my 3 & almost 2 year old on Yom Kippur; my husband will be in shul. I may go to a friend so that I have some backup, but she also has 4 young children (5 and under).

Is there a circumstance under which I would be permitted to drink in shiurim? If so, how do I know what those criteria are? How will I know if I've fulfilled them, or if it's just "wishful thinking"?


Answer:

B'Sha'ah Tovah!

The laws concerning Yom Kippur are strict and pregnant women are required to fast on Yom Kippur.  Permission to eat is given in situations in which the fast is a threat to the woman's or fetus' health.

Even in the situation you describe, you should attempt to fast on Yom Kippur, being sure to hydrate yourself well during the two to three days beforehand and to get ample rest (lying down in a cool environment, arranging for help with the kids, etc).  Your fast on Yom Kippur takes halachic precedence over your husband's davening in shul. He has a responsibility to help you get through the fast. Perhaps he can daven at an earlier minyan if you have one in your community, and come home for the rest of the morning to give you a break. You should also look into the possibility of hiring a babysitter. You should make it a priority to arrange such help in advance.

In general, if it gets to the point that you are feeling very nauseated or very weak or light headed despite lying down, you should begin to drink in shiurim. The correct procedure is as follows:

You should drink less than one cheekful (maleh logmav) at a time. The average cheekful is 40 ml, but you should measure your own mouth. Before Yom Kippur, fill up your mouth completely with water, then spit it into a cup and measure the quantity. Half of that is your maleh logmav.

Ideally, you should wait nine minutes between drinks. If necessary, this can be reduced to five minutes or less. If you are sure you will have to drink, it is better to start earlier with shiurim, rather than waiting to become dehydrated and having to drink more than a shiur.

A more personalized ruling depends in part on your specific medical considerations.  Therefore, you should consult with your physician prior to Yom Kippur for his or her opinions on the protocol above and the medical reasoning behind those opinions.  (If you have access to a religious physician, that would be preferred.)  Then you should get back to us or a local rabbinic authority with that information. 

B'Hatzlacha!!


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