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How many days a must married couple refrain from intimacy after their baby is born?

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Thank you IM for giving a nicer title to my question, I did not mention to be rude only did not know a better word for it in English.. :-) –  jona21 Sep 2 '11 at 18:27
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As always, for practical halachic guidance, please CYLOR rather than relying on answers you receive on this site. –  msh210 Sep 2 '11 at 18:29
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@jona21 No problem. There was nothing rude about your question; we just like to maintain a little extra modesty in language around these issues. –  Isaac Moses Sep 2 '11 at 18:30
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@msh210. Your title is misleading and incorrect. Marital separation suggests that a marriage has broken down and the couple are now living apart. And I don't understand this idea that it's perfectly fine to talk about sex as long as you don't use the actual word. –  TRiG Oct 13 '12 at 23:17
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@TRiG Thanks for pointing that out. I (who made that edit) didn't realize that "marital separation" had that specific meaning. The separation in question here isn't just about sex itself, and therefore referring to it as such is needlessly crude and also actually overprecise. –  Isaac Moses Oct 14 '12 at 13:26
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2 Answers

Excellent question.

Leviticus Ch. 12 says that it's 7 days if the baby is a boy, and 14 if a girl; (but she has to then immerse in mikvah, a ritual bath). (Then there's a lengthier stretch of time that she can't enter the Temple, but is permitted to her husband.)

However:

Skip ahead to Leviticus Chapter 15. If a woman has a normal period (15:19) then she must abstain from her husband for seven days (counting from the start of the period), then take a ritual bath the next day, then she's fine. BUT (15:25), if the bleeding isn't "normal", she has to wait till it stops, then count seven clean days, then ritual bath.

By the year 400 or so, Judaism established that we don't always know exactly what's called "normal" bleeding or not, so to avoid problems, any menstrual-type bleeding requires cessation, then seven clean days, then a ritual bath before she is permitted to her husband once again. This applies to childbirth as well.

So practically today, it's end-of-bleeding (which I think is usually a few weeks) plus seven days, plus immersion.

My understanding is all laws aside, doctors today wouldn't recommend anything sooner than a few weeks, anyhow.

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+1. But "doctors today wouldn't recommend..." wouldn't apply to harchakos. –  msh210 Sep 2 '11 at 19:18
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@msh210, correct. But I doubt our questioner knows about harchakos, so I thought I'd throw it in there. –  Shalom Sep 2 '11 at 19:23
    
"Judaism established that we don't always know exactly what's called "normal" " These statements always amaze me... and now that we know exactly what is normal and what isn't? –  avi Sep 4 '11 at 8:23
    
+1. Excellent answer. :) –  JNF Oct 15 '12 at 6:14
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Aside from the seven days for a son and fourteen days for a daughter given in Tazria, it is normal to continue to bleed for weeks or even months following childbirth. One should certainly consult closely with one's rav to determine when the mother may begin counting seven clean days.

There is an established custom in some communities to separate for forty days following the birth of a son and for eighty days following the birth of a daughter, but there are those who condemn this custom as overly strict. Additionally, some authorities rule that one must separate from one's wife on the night of the forty-first day following the birth of a son and the night of the eighty-first day following the birth of a daughter. (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 158:1-2)

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Thanks. And as I see there is a difference between boy and girl enfants. –  jona21 Sep 2 '11 at 18:17
    
Can you explain me what do you mean by those "some communities" ? –  jona21 Sep 2 '11 at 21:40
    
I'm quoting the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch there, but this is the practice of many Chasidic groups. –  yoel Sep 2 '11 at 21:50
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And many in the non-Hassidic community generally find the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch's less-tban-positive attitude towards marital intimacy to be NOT recommended practice, put mildly. –  Shalom Sep 4 '11 at 9:00
    
I'm more familiar with the KS"A than the S"A in general... how would you compare the former's attitude to the latter? My impression was that the general approach was consistent across the board. No-one will dispute that it represents significant stringency as opposed to what is permitted, but we have a Shulchan Aruch for a reason... –  yoel Sep 4 '11 at 23:35
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