Working after Childbirth?
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Ameer Hamza

We ladies are often told to go on complete rest after childbirth. We are also told not to leave house and indulge in activities of daily life. What is the origin and nature of this religious obligation?


According to the Sharī‘ah, women are required to avoid sexual intercourse during the period of afterbirth bleeding unless they take a ceremonial bath at the end of the period. There is no other obligation to be observed during this period. The matter of rest has no religious significance at all. It relates to common human practice that they take rest when exhausted, ill or physically weak.

As regards the forty days limit for the puerperal discharge, it originates from interpretation of a certain tradition ascribed to one of the wives of the Holy Prophet (sws) by some jurists. The text of the tradition follows:

Umm-i-Salmah said that the woman undergoing after birth bleeding would sit for forty days during the time of the Holy Prophet (sws). (Abū Da'ūd: No. 267)

According to another tradition the Holy Prophet (sws) is reported to have said that such women should wait for forty days and if the bleeding continues they should take bath and start praying considering it an abnormality or an ailment. The latter tradition is not reliable enough to merit consideration. The former obviously talks of the practice observed by the narrator. This does not give law. That is why Muslim jurists differed on the maximum limit of the duration. Some extend it to sixty days and still others to seventy days. If we consider all this difference and the purport of the related traditions it becomes clear that there is no limit prescribed by the Sharī‘ah in this regard. All the jurists are almost unanimous on the matter that as the bleeding stops after delivery all restrictions are lifted. Similarly it should be left upon the practice of the woman (or alike of her in case of first delivery when she has developed no habit in this regard). This practice should determinate the maximum limit for the period of puerperal discharge. This is when you have no access to medical facilities to know whether the bleeding is normal puerperal discharge or is caused by any some malfunction. With the development of medical science, it is hoped that hardly any problem will be faced in ascertaining the nature of such bleeding.

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