Jewish Pregnancy Customs - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 02-24-2009, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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For the Jewish moms out there...I was wondering what Jewish customs you followed during your pregnancy. I come from a Jewish family (conservative) and celebrate the major holidays, but I don't go to Temple anymore.

When I told my mom about my pregnancy, she started talking about the customs in Judaism. She kept on saying that we didn't want to give the baby a "kunahura" (don't know how to spell it!).

I tried to find some info online, but didn't come up with much. Do you really not buy anything for the baby until after he/she is born? What else don't you do?

I'd love to hear any of your experiences. I don't have any friends that are jewish that have had children and my immediately family hasn't had any recently. Thank you!

Proud mom of Dylan born 10/10/09
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#2 of 21 Old 02-24-2009, 07:25 PM
 
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The custom is to not buy tons and tons of stuff for the baby ahead of time. I never had a baby shower- instead the baby gifts trickled in after the births.

I didn't, however, buy "absolutely nothing" for the baby! I had home births and needed some supplies on hand!

What I did was buy what I would need for the first month or so, and wait with all the other purchases. So I bought a carseat, diapers, burp cloths, and clothes in the smallest size. I waited on buying a stroller, high chair, baby toys, "fancy" baby clothes (I mostly got sleeperss and undershirts and socks), etc. Pretty much, I got what the midwife suggested I have on hand for the birth, which included basic newborn clothes.

We did throw a baby shower for my aunt (I was a teenager at the time) but we kept all the baby stuff at our house, so it didn't go into hers!

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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#3 of 21 Old 02-24-2009, 10:03 PM
 
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I think perhaps you are refering to an "ayin hara". We personally don't buy anything for the baby before the birth (I didn't have a homebirth) but we knew what we needed in advance so it could be purchased as soons as the baby was born (my mother and DH took care of it). I did ask if I could knit some woolen soakers before the birth as I wouldn't have time to do that once the baby was born. I was told I could do it but to keep it quiet (ie not show them off to people or say I was doing it). Different customs might hold differently.

I personally don't go to funerals when pregnant. I think it's a pretty wide spread custom (it might include cemetaries as a general rule as well). There are other customs to but I can't remember all of them. There are books written on this topic but hopefully some other mamas will come on board and say more.
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#4 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 03:34 PM
 
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I bought stuff. But I "symbolically" did not assemble the cradle until after the birth.

I don't know.... A lot of that stuff is based on the negative... the death of the baby, the evil eye, jealousy...

You may also want to look into Laila... in the Talmud, it is explains she is an angel, the "midwife of souls" leading them into their bodies in their mother, telling them what they need to know.
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#5 of 21 Old 03-01-2009, 10:57 AM
 
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My mom threw me a baby shower prior to baby's birth. We kept all the gear at her house and brought it down after the birth. I myself tried to resist buying anything but I caved when I found a onsie with a dove and the word "shalom" on it. : My MIL and her friends bought nothing before the birth.

Some women go to the mikvah in their 9th month of pregnancy. I didn't do this because I was unaware of the custom, but if (B'H) I get pregnant again, I would absolutely do this!

Our midwife was Jewish and together we wrote a ritual with blessings and meditations to follow during the labor and birth. When labor started, DH and I lit candles and said the blessing "blessed is Gd, Creator, the Good One, the Source of Good" (we said this in Hebrew), then we did Shechechianu, and the blessing before a journey. We had planned much more, but, well, labor was pretty fast and intense The midwife and her assistant said their own prayers before I started pushing; they thanked the biblical midwives (shifra and puah, I think). It was nice to spend that kind of time with my MW, getting to know her on a spiritual level..

I found there is surprisingly little known about Jewish customs for childbirth and labor. We have fantastic rituals for most life cycle events but the literature is quiet regarding this transition for a woman. I'm not orthodox, so I don't know if being a part of that community would offer more customs.

Whatever you do, mazal tov on your pregnancy and B'sha'a tova!!

My babies were born at home! 09/07, 01/10, and 09/12 joy.gif

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#6 of 21 Old 03-01-2009, 01:43 PM
 
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I found there is surprisingly little known about Jewish customs for childbirth and labor. We have fantastic rituals for most life cycle events but the literature is quiet regarding this transition for a woman. I'm not orthodox, so I don't know if being a part of that community would offer more customs.
I'm Orthodox so here's what I know off the top of my head. There are a few popular books that do cover this topic. I don't know if I read them but I recognize the titles. There are also some shiurim (Torah lectures) on tape that cover this as well.
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#7 of 21 Old 03-01-2009, 05:27 PM
 
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I have Expecting Miracles by Chana Weisberg, which is leans toward Orthodox.

I also have The Jewish Pregnancy Book by Sandy Falk, which is more ...er, modern, shall we say. She includes Alef-Bet yoga (asanas in the "shape" of Hebrew letters. Actually kinda cool. And yoga is great before, during, and after pregnancy no matter what you call the asanas [postures]. I digress)

My MW had a great book on Jewish beliefs, traditions, superstitions, etc in a historical context - but I can't remember the name.



ETA: The New Jewish Baby Book by Anita Diamant; again, not Orthodox but a good resource.

My babies were born at home! 09/07, 01/10, and 09/12 joy.gif

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#8 of 21 Old 03-03-2009, 12:19 AM
 
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I think perhaps you are refering to an "ayin hara". We personally don't buy anything for the baby before the birth (I didn't have a homebirth) but we knew what we needed in advance so it could be purchased as soons as the baby was born (my mother and DH took care of it). I did ask if I could knit some woolen soakers before the birth as I wouldn't have time to do that once the baby was born. I was told I could do it but to keep it quiet (ie not show them off to people or say I was doing it). Different customs might hold differently.

I personally don't go to funerals when pregnant. I think it's a pretty wide spread custom (it might include cemetaries as a general rule as well). There are other customs to but I can't remember all of them. There are books written on this topic but hopefully some other mamas will come on board and say more.
Okay - Im not jewish but enjoy learning about their customs! Can you tell me why yall dont buy gifts and supplies for the baby's ahead of time? And why you cannot name them after relatives that have passed? And why you dont go to funerals?
Thanks - Im just so curious - its very interesting the different customs and beleifs that exist.

Loving Mother to our adoption miracle, Riana :, and our angel baby, Xavier. Trying for baby. Wife to my Hero! BLOG LINK IN PROFILE
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#9 of 21 Old 03-03-2009, 12:29 AM
 
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And why you cannot name them after relatives that have passed? Thanks - Im just so curious - its very interesting the different customs and beleifs that exist.
I apologize that I don't have the time to answer the entire post now but this question stuck out. Where did it say that we don't name after relatives that have passed? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your question. Ashkenazi Jews (think Jews originally from Europe) will only name after relatives (or individuals) that have died. Ashkenazi Jews will NOT name after a living person (Sefardi Jews-think originating in Spain, Portugal and perhaps Asian and African areas-do name after living relatives and many consider it an honor to have one's grandchildren named after them during their lifetime).
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#10 of 21 Old 03-03-2009, 12:55 AM
 
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I apologize that I don't have the time to answer the entire post now but this question stuck out. Where did it say that we don't name after relatives that have passed? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your question. Ashkenazi Jews (think Jews originally from Europe) will only name after relatives (or individuals) that have died. Ashkenazi Jews will NOT name after a living person (Sefardi Jews-think originating in Spain, Portugal and perhaps Asian and African areas-do name after living relatives and many consider it an honor to have one's grandchildren named after them during their lifetime).
I know it wasn't part of this discussion - and I didn't mean to hyjack the thread! I may have gotten something mixed up - I heard something though about naming after loved ones was bad luck or something??? Gosh I could remember what it was that lady (a stranger I met while I was pregnant) said.....

Loving Mother to our adoption miracle, Riana :, and our angel baby, Xavier. Trying for baby. Wife to my Hero! BLOG LINK IN PROFILE
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#11 of 21 Old 03-03-2009, 11:31 AM
 
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I know it wasn't part of this discussion - and I didn't mean to hyjack the thread! I may have gotten something mixed up - I heard something though about naming after loved ones was bad luck or something??? Gosh I could remember what it was that lady (a stranger I met while I was pregnant) said.....
If the person died young or under unusual or unnatural circumstances you might either choose not to name after that person or to change the name slightly such as adding a second name, etc..
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#12 of 21 Old 03-03-2009, 12:10 PM
 
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Part of the custom of not buying things, assembling an entire nursery and decorating it, telling the people the name of the unborn child is protection for the parents to be and a "respect" for the child to be. What if, Gd forbid, something happened at the end of pregnancy, or in the birth, or right after the birth, and the child died. Then the parents would come home to a house full of baby gear and fuzzy baby blankets and it might be harder to cope.

I personally bought a hamsa necklace (my avitar is a hamsa - the hand of Gd type deal. Good luck and protection against the dreaded evil eye ; ) to help deflect negative energy. I wore it all during my pregnancy. Have you ever experienced a stranger toughing your pregnant belly and feeling uncomfortable with that persons energy or intent? All these customs are (admittedly superstitious) ways to deal with that.

There is an idea that the unborn baby can be influenced by the activities of the mother and the people around her. Hence no funerals because they are typically full of grief.

And they are just that - customs or "minhag" - not halacha or Jewish law.

Like SaraFR said, the tradition among Ashkenazi is to absolutely name your child after a beloved family member who's passed on. Either using the full name, the initial of the name, their Hebrew name. Etc. My middle name is Gayle (G) after my great grandmother Goldie and my Hebrew name means golden. My daughter was named after my grandmother Marilyn - which is my daughter's middle name.

Sephardi Jews have the opposite custom - they name after a beloved living relative! You can't go wrong

My babies were born at home! 09/07, 01/10, and 09/12 joy.gif

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#13 of 21 Old 03-03-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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theres a book called a time to be born, I think. It's al about jewish birthing/pregnancy customs from all times all over the world. I found a used like new copy on amazon for super cheap. Like under a dollar. It's excellent. You should totally get it!

 http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Wise-Woman-Fertility/182752565080597
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#14 of 21 Old 03-03-2009, 08:05 PM
 
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There is a custom to wear a ruby as a segula (sorry can't come up with an englsih word this second) to safeguard the pregnancy.
As for books, I enjoyed Bsha'ah Tovah.
I do not do anything in advance for the baby. I do not discuss the baby's name in advance with anyone besides my husband.
I do not disclose the pregnancy (to the best of my abilities) before the 13th week.

Rivka, mommy to 3 big boys and a set of b/g twins
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#15 of 21 Old 03-04-2009, 01:22 PM
 
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I am confused as to how anyone would get the impression we are short on pregnancy and birth customs. There are plenty.

Mom of 5 boys- 13, 10, 8, 2 : and newbie Aug. 24th, '09 . babywearing advocate . Cook, baker, homemaker, wife to a man with another woman's kidney (live altruistic, unknown donor).
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#16 of 21 Old 03-04-2009, 07:43 PM
 
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I am confused as to how anyone would get the impression we are short on pregnancy and birth customs. There are plenty.
Speaking only for myself - when I went looking for a specific bracha (blessing) or ritual for labor specifically, I found none. Yes, I found ideas and traditions, but nothing concrete like the brachot before foods, or candles, or upon seeing a rainbow.

I still find this curious given how bountiful "official" blessings are in Judaism.

We have a blessing upon going to the restroom - amazing! And yet, no official blessing for that start of labor. Interesting.

My babies were born at home! 09/07, 01/10, and 09/12 joy.gif

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#17 of 21 Old 03-04-2009, 08:07 PM
 
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I'm sorry you didn't find them. They very much exist. Where did you look?
There are techinos and customs for labor and theofficial blessings are said after the birth. What are you making a bracha on in labor? Nothing good happened yet. We don't make a bracha if we feel the need to use the bathroom. We make after we have successfully gone. And one who cannot use the bathroom even if he feels the need does not say the bracha (says the woman whose husband has spina bifida). I know too many bad outcomes that I don't think going into labor is bracha worthy. Prayer worthy yes.
The mother is actually considered in sakana (danger) and we do not say mazal tov until after the birth of the whole placenta.
Some customs:
going to the mikvah in the 9th month.
making sure all [holy] books are right side up, so baby stays head down
biting the pitom off of an esrog for an easy labor
putting the book "noam elimelech" under the laboring woman's pillow
In the month the husband gets the honor of "psicha" (opening the ark) at shul
baking challah during labor
praying for those not yet blessed with children during labor using their whole jewish name if possible
the husband should bring the wife a candle from the shul that she lights

After the birth we wash neggelvasser and also for the the baby and say the brachos.

Mom of 5 boys- 13, 10, 8, 2 : and newbie Aug. 24th, '09 . babywearing advocate . Cook, baker, homemaker, wife to a man with another woman's kidney (live altruistic, unknown donor).
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#18 of 21 Old 03-05-2009, 10:11 PM
 
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Speaking only for myself - when I went looking for a specific bracha (blessing) or ritual for labor specifically, I found none. Yes, I found ideas and traditions, but nothing concrete like the brachot before foods, or candles, or upon seeing a rainbow.

I still find this curious given how bountiful "official" blessings are in Judaism.

We have a blessing upon going to the restroom - amazing! And yet, no official blessing for that start of labor. Interesting.
There are a whole set of prayers for each step. Among the ones I saw are one for a woman entering her ninth month, another for a woman about to give birth and yet another for a woman who has just given birth. There are special blessings said after the birth as well.
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#19 of 21 Old 03-05-2009, 10:51 PM
 
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There is a book in English with relevant Hebrew called "A Joyful Mother of Children" that has pertinent pregnancy customs and prayers.
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#20 of 21 Old 03-09-2009, 02:49 AM
 
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Found a google "preview" of the book online here
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#21 of 21 Old 03-09-2009, 03:11 AM
 
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If the person died young or under unusual or unnatural circumstances you might either choose not to name after that person or to change the name slightly such as adding a second name, etc..
Agreed.

My DD was given the Hebrew version of my Husband's Aunt's middle name. Because that relative died at a young age, she has a second Hebrew name, which is the same as and was given in honor of my Great-Grandmother, who lived until she was 96.

We purchased nothing before the birth, except for a carseat, for obvious reason which was stored at a relative's house. We did not discuss her name until after she was born either.

There is a list of prayers that I wrote at the beginning of each trimester for myself to recite during my own davening, but that became my personal custom, and is not a general one.

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