Guidelines for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers on Yom Kippur

NOTE: Please do not decide Halacha from this summary. This is purely for informative purposes. If you have any questions, ask a Shayla!

General Introduction:

Breaking One’s Fast:

In general, the Torah does not require us to endanger our lives in order to keep the mitzvos. (With the well knows exceptions of murder, sexual immorality or idolatry.)

Regarding Pregnancies:

  1. Shulchan Aruch: Pregnant and Nursing mothers need to fast as usual. (סימן תריז סעיף א: עוברות ומיניקות מתענות ומשלימות ביום הכיפורים.)
  2. However, we also violate Shabbos and Yom Kippur in order to save the life of a fetus.

Two important notes:

In all regular cases: Women who are healthy and present no exceptional medical concerns, should fast as normal.

However, there are a number of situations which the poskim discuss, that will permit a women to begin Yom Kippur eating Shiurim. If a women has:

(A word about studies: Many are inconclusive, but there is some evidence that at the end of the 8th month / beginning of the 9th, fasting might induce labor. This is usually not of any concern, since a 37 week baby is usually healthy. Consult with your doctor if there are any elevated risks.)

So, assuming everything is good and normal, you begin fasting.

If you're fasting and begin to get concerned or nervous:

Taking Medication:

If absolutely necessary, and you need water:

(Important Note: Depression / eating disorders are often Pikuach Nefesh. Consult with your doctor before considering fasting!)

How to do Shiurim?

On Yom Kippur, the pachos mi’keshiur (less than the maximum prohibition) amounts of food and drink are independent of each other. This means the two shiurim do not combine and one can simultaneously eat and drink a pachos mi’keshiur of both. The waiting times are also calculated independently.

Food: 1.5 fl. oz. (44 ml) Drink: m’lo lugmav – a cheekful. (Usually a little more than a shot glass.) Make sure to measure your “cheekful” before Yom Kippur.

For most people, a total of 6 shots of liquid – 6oz (177ml) – every hour works out to be helpful. (That’s half of a coke can every hour.) NOTE: Don't just drink water! Get some hydration/sugar/calories. Gatorade/orange juice are good options.

How long is the “Shiur”. Most poskim say 9 minutes (in extenuation cases, could be shorter. Ask a Shayla!) My recommendation: Use 10 minutes. That way you have less math to do over the fast.

Best practice: Drink on the 0’s (10:00am, 10:10am, 10:20am…) and eat on the fives (10:05am, 10:15am, 10:25am…)


Do everything possible to ensure that you can fast on Yom Kippur, by arranging a milk substitute for the baby, or pumping milk the days before the fast.

In a case that the child refuses to drink anything else other than through nursing, if shiurim will help, use Shiurim.

With Hashem’s help, everyone should merit a year of good health and beautiful families.