Auspicious Practices (Segulot) for the 9th Month and Birth
Here are some traditional segulot (auspicious practices) for the 9th month and the birth:
Immerse in the ritual bath (mikvah), without a blessing. Click here to learn about the mikve experience. Before birth, some women go to the mikvah to cleanse themselves spiritually in order to encourage G-d’s mercy towards them and their baby during the labor. Click here to read tons of inspiring articles on mikve, and to locate the nearest ritual bath to you: http://mikvah.org/default.asp
Have your husband open up the ark (aron) containing the Torah scroll in synagogue. In Jewish mysticism, the word used for the womb is the same as the one for the ark that contains the Torah scrolls. Therefore, there is a mystical connection between the opening of the ark, and the opening of the cervix when it is time to give birth.
When my second daughter, Hallel, was a week overdue, and the ultrasound was saying that the she was getting very big, the doctor scheduled a Sunday appointment to induce the labor. That Saturday morning, I told my husband to open up the ark, and gave him clear instructions to do so with extra kavana (concentration)! At around 5 PM that day I started getting contractions, and by 8:30 that night I had given birth to my beautiful girl (never made it to the the ritual bath that Saturday night, as I had planned, though!)
Make Challot– There are three commandments that are associated especially with women – lighting of Sabbath candles, attendance of the ritual bath, and making and separating challah. All of these commandments are traditionally credited with bringing about “Shalom Bayit” or peace and love between husband and wife.
I find that making challah adds to shalom bayit- and makes everyone happy from my three-year-old daughter who helps knead and braid the challot (well, sort of), to my husband and I who get pretty excited as we approach the Friday-night meal knowing that we will soon be eating fresh-baked challah (is there really anything yummier in the whole world??) I also love being able to perform an important commandment as part of my Shabbat cooking- and to feel the blessing it brings to my home.
Make sure that you have kosher mezuzot, especially at the entrance to your bedroom- The mezuzot are scrolls with verses from the book of Deuteronomy, and the Torah teaches us to keep them on the entrance of every Jewish home. The rabbis further teach us to post them at the entrance to every room within our homes, and to make certain to keep them in good condition in order that, in the merit of keeping a mezuza, G-d will guard us from harm.
There are popular stories of defects in mezuzot that are related to misfortunes. When Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met with crisis after crisis in his ill-fated administration, the headline of Israel’s most popular newspaper announced that the Prime Minister’s office was “checking its mezuzot”!
Some families check mezuzot before every Rosh Hashana, when every Jew is judged by G-d. The birth, as well, is traditionally seen as a personal day of judgement for the mother, so it’s a good idea to check those mezuzot, and put them up at the entrance to every room of your house if you haven’t already. Click below to learn everything you ever wanted to know about mezuzas- including links to purchase online!
Recite the following verses for an easy birth (from Rabbi Yaakov Kanyevsky).
“V’yardu kol avadecha eleh elai v’heeshtachavu lee, lemor tse atah v’kol ha’am asher b’raglecha v’achar ken etseh.” (translation: “And all of these servants of yours will come down to me, and bow down to me, saying ‘Go out, and all of the people who are are at your feet!’ and only then will I depart.” Exodus 11:8)
“V’tomarna ham’yaldot el paro kee lo k’nashim hamitsriyot ha’eevreeyot, kee chayot hena. B’terem tavo aleihen ham’yaldot v’yaladu” (translation: And the midwives said to Pharoah, “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are lively. Before the midwives come to them, they give birth” Exodus 1:19)
“V’hu k’chatan yotse m’chupato, yasees k’geebor laruts orach” (translation: “And he is like a groom coming out from his wedding canopy, rejoicing like a hero who has run the whole way.” Psalms 19:6)
Recite Psalms chapter 20. Repeat twelve times, and read Psalms chapter 100 once. Click here for more Psalms to be recited during the birth.
Give Charity– Rebbe Nachman, the founder of Breslov Chassidism, taught that giving charity by the birthing woman, or by others on her behalf, dilates the womb during labor. It has to be done with belief in the power of giving, and without hesitation. You should say to yourself, “G-d, please allow this act of giving, of opening, to help open my womb.” More on the power of Charity during birth.
Keep a holy book, such as a prayer book, Pentateuch, or Noam Elimelech under your pillow in the hospital. Keep the book wrapped in two towels or other double cover. This book will serve as a tangible reminder of G-d’s mercy and strength, and love of the Jewish people, as expressed through the gift of the Holy Torah. You can maintain your calm and sense of faith as the book reminds you that G-d loves you and that everything will turn out for the best.
After the Birth
The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that right after the birth the parents should show the newborn baby Hebrew letters. The Rebbe explained: “It is true that the child was just born, and cannot yet distinguish between light and dark or between sweet and bitter. Nevertheless, since the child has already come into the world and possesses eyes with which to see the world, we should see to it that the first thing the child sees is the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, from whose combinations all of creation has come into being.”