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

  • Hebrew
  • English
  • Espnaol
  • Francais

Water breaking

28 December, 2002


My husband recently went to Niddah review course and was surprised to learn that a woman does not necessarily become niddah when her water breaks. We always learned contrary to that and were told that in Israel this is the psak. I dont know know why there should be a difference between Israel and the US.


Halacha is a dynamic process in which rabbinic rulings are debated. Some opinions are eventually accepted while others are rejected, and there are sometimes local differences regarding accepted practice. Therefore, variations exist between the US and Israel, and even between different communities within the same country.

As to the particular question of rupture of the amniotic membranes ("water breaking"), our rabbinic supervisor, Rav Yehuda Henkin, rules that a woman in childbirth becomes niddah when she either experiences bleeding, reaches the point at which the contractions are so strong she can not walk unaided, or is fully dilated. The water breaking during this part of active labor would be additional proof of the fact that she is niddah. On the other hand, if she has premature rupture of the membranes (without bleeding) prior to active labor this would not make her niddah.

If her membranes are artificially ruptured by the physician, the halacha would depend on the size of the instrument used for the procedure. Opinions as to this size vary.  R Henkin rules that an instrument with a diameter of 19mm or more would make a woman niddah

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