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Tisha B’Av, possible risk of preterm delivery

15 July, 2019

Question:

Dear Yoetzet,

I’m going to be 30 weeks pregnant on Tisha B’av, after a long battle with unexplained infertility, early miscarriages and having had bleeding in early pregnancy. I also have large fibroids which some doctors say can cause preterm delivery but as I’ve not yet unfortunately been able to have any other children, I don’t know if I would otherwise be at risk of preterm delivery. I was hoping to fast to have zechuyot for this pregnancy after I was unable to conceive so long.

My doctors and midwives are non-Jewish and they do say not to fast. Even a Rav I spoke to said that I can if I feel 100% well but even if I am just anxious I don’t have to fast. But I think I should not base this just on my feelings. How can I make a decision like this? Is there a halachik basis for feeling anxious and therefore not fasting?

Can you maybe tell me more about the halachik basis for when to fast/when not to.

Many many thanks!


Answer:

B’sha’ah tovah!

A normal, healthy pregnant women is required to fast on Tisha B’Av. When there is danger to the mother or the fetus, a woman consults with both her rabbi and doctor, and a decision is made whether she is permitted to start the fast or whether she should not fast at all.

This year Tisha B’Av is postponed (the fast is on the 10th of Av because the 9th is Shabbat), so there is greater room for leniency not to fast in borderline situations.

Given your medical history, there is concern about whether the fast would put you or your baby in danger. If your doctors and midwives tell you not to fast, then you should not fast. Furthermore, because of the greater leniency this year, there are differences of opinion as to whether any pregnant woman should even try to fast. Therefore, it makes sense that your rabbi said that if you are at all nervous about fasting, you need not fast.

Only if you have permission from your healthcare providers, and feel good, may you try starting the fast. In that event, make sure to drink a lot of water for a few days before the fast, and to lie down in a cool room during the fast. If you feel at all unwell or dehydrated or start having contractions, you should recite havdalah and break your fast.

It is important to remember that while fasting does give you zechuyot (merits), eating to keep you and your baby safe also gives you zechuyot.

This answer applies specifically to Tisha B’av; a separate question should be asked prior to Yom Kippur.

Please feel free to get back to us with any further questions.

We wish you a smooth and healthy pregnancy!

B’hatzlacha!


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