כ״ו בסיון ה׳תשע״ב (June 16, 2012)

Nidda 26a-b: When Only a Placenta is Born

As we have learned, according to the Torah when a woman gives birth she is rendered ritually unclean with tum’at leidah – the impurity of birth (see 12:1-5). The Torah teaches that there are different rules for a woman who gives birth to a boy and one who gives birth to a girl.

When a boy is born the mother is ritually unclean for seven days, and then has 33 days during which time any vaginal bleeding does not render her impure; When a girl is born the mother is ritually unclean for 14 days, and then has 66 days during which time any vaginal bleeding does not render her impure.

These laws remain in effect even if the baby is stillborn or if the woman miscarries.

The Mishna on today’s daf  teaches that “if a placenta is within a house, the house is unclean; not because a placenta is a child but because generally there can be no placenta without a child.” Thus, the placenta is an indication of birth, and the rules of tum’at leidah should apply. Since we have no way to ascertain whether the child was male or female, the mother will have to keep both sets of laws regarding ritual purity.

While discussing the circumstances of a woman who expels a placenta, the Gemara brings two statements in the name of Rav that appear to be in conflict:

  • Rav Yehuda quotes Rav as teaching that if a woman expels a placenta within three days after she gave birth, we assume that it is part of the birthing process of the child that was born. If the placenta is expelled after that time we must suspect that it is an indication of a second birth, and the woman will have to keep the rules of someone who gave birth to a placenta.
  • Rav is also brought as teaching that two children in a single pregnancy are always born immediately after one another.

Ultimately the Gemara explains that Rav believes that after a stillbirth the placenta may take up to three days to be expelled, but after a live birth the second child will be born immediately.