22 December, 2010
Are there any piskei halacha on the issue of home birth?
We are not aware of any halachic responsa on home birth per se. Childbirth in and of itself is considered risky (See Shevet haLevi 6:128 and, for the opposing view, Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah II:74.) and thus one is allowed to perform otherwise prohibited actions on Shabbat for a woman in childbirth. The halachic permissibility of home birth would depend on the safety of the procedure relative to hospital birth. Not placing oneself at extra risk is a halachic consideration.
While many physicians stress the potential danger of home birth, it is not clear cut that a home birth attended by a trained midwife in a low risk pregnancy with a clear plan for getting additional help if needed is more dangerous than a hospital birth. A woman considering home birth would need to get professional opinions (both from a physician and a midwife) related to her particular case and then ask a specific halachic question.
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