Five Must-Know Rulings For Praying During Labor

Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahim

by Naielah Ackbarali

Every woman’s birthing experience will be unique. Some women may choose to give birth at home, while others believe that delivering in a hospital is best. Some women feel strongly about having natural vaginal births, while others see no issue with cesarean delivery (C-section). Some women are against any form of medical intervention, while others will opt for an epidural.

There are so many options available now for a smooth and comfortable birth, and each woman must decide which route is best for her circumstance based on the advice of her doctors, spouse, and possible prior child delivery experience.

Nevertheless, knowing how to pray during labor is something that is often overlooked when women plan for their births. It is important to understand the rulings that revolve around this lifechanging event. One should strive to deliver their child according to the ways of the deen in the hope of seeking Allah Most High’s blessings and reward.

If you are a mommy-to-be or helping with a Muslima’s birth, there are five must-know rulings that will come in handy during labor.

Ruling #1: Any colored vaginal discharge that exits BEFORE the child exits is considered filthy (najas) and does NOT lift the obligation to pray.

In the Hanafi madhhab, pregnant women do not menstruate. Any blood or colored vaginal discharge seen during pregnancy is abnormal vaginal bleeding (istihada), and it does not lift the obligation to pray. For more information about istihada, read this article.

As for post-natal bleeding, it is the blood that exits from the vagina after child delivery. Menstruation (hayd) and post-natal bleeding (nifas) are the only vaginal bloods that lift the obligation of performing the ritual prayer and fasting Ramadan. For more information on which actions are prohibited during these times, read this article.

When a woman nears the time for labor, her water breaks, her mucus plug dislodges from the cervix, and she may even experience a bloody show. What does all that mean?

Typically, at the beginning of or during labor the amniotic sac that surrounds the baby will rupture. The fluid that leaks from this sac will slowly trickle out of the vagina or quickly gush out, which is commonly known as a woman’s water breaking.

The mucus plug is a “cork” barrier that seals a pregnant woman’s cervix during pregnancy. Along with the amniotic sac, it helps protect the baby from the outside world while a woman is pregnant until she is ready to deliver. The bloody show is a discharge of mucus that is tinged pink or brown with blood. It means the blood vessels in the cervix are rupturing as it begins to dilate.

Every woman will differ in when they experience these events, and there is no way to tell of which incident will take place first. Each birth is unique, and some women may experience their water breaking or mucus plug falling out weeks, days, or even hours before the baby exits.

Pregnant women need to know that any blood or colored discharge that exits before the child exits is considered filthy (najas), and it does not lift the obligation to pray. Consequently, when a woman’s water breaks, the amniotic fluid that exits her vagina is filthy and breaks her ablution (wudu). The same ruling applies when the mucus plug falls out and with the bloody show.

Thus, a pregnant woman must wash away the filth and continue to offer her obligatory worship until most of the baby exits her vagina. For more information on how much filth is excused for the validity of the prayer, read this article.

If a woman is constantly bleeding or fluid is continuously exiting, she will resort to the excused person’s rulings for her wudu. For more information about how to establish the excuse and pray with it, read this article.

Ruling #2: Praying can be performed while sitting or with head movements.

In the Hanafi maddhab, a woman is obliged to continue praying until most of the baby exits. In a legal sense, most of the baby means that if the baby’s head exits first, it is when the chest exits, and if the baby’s feet exit first, it is when the navel exits. Practically speaking, when the crowning of the head occurs, the rest of the baby quickly follows.

Pregnant women must realize that even though they are experiencing contractions, they must pray until actual childbirth. The advice from many mothers is to pray as soon as the prayer time comes in, if this is possible for your situation. The sooner you pray, the less worry it is for you inshaAllah.

When contractions become more intense, a woman may not be able to pray in the usual fashion with bowing and prostrating on the floor. In this circumstance, she may need to resort to the sick person’s rulings for prayer. These rulings permit a person to pray sitting up or lying down with head movements. For more details of how to pray with head movements, along with pictures, read this article.

A useful summary is:

  • If a woman cannot make ablution (wudu) herself, or with the help of someone, she can make tayammum with a rock or dirt. Take care to pack a small rock or ziplock bag with dirt in your bag to make tayammum with.
  • If a woman is constantly bleeding or fluid is continuously exiting, she will resort to the excused person’s rulings for her wudu. For more information about how to establish the excuse and pray with it, read this article.
  • If a woman cannot cover her body for the prayer by wearing clothing, she can cover herself by throwing a sheet over her body. It is advisable to wear a two-piece hijab or sport hijab when giving birth so that one’s hair remains covered if delivering in a public hospital.
  • If a woman cannot pray standing, then she prays sitting or with head movements. For more details of how to pray this way, along with pictures, read this article.
  • If a woman cannot perform the prayer due to dire circumstances, someone else should record the number of prayers she missed, and she must make them up later in a time when she is legally able to pray. It helps to assign someone with this duty before going into labor. With child delivery, always expect the unexpected.

Ruling #3: If the baby exits before the prayer time is over, that prayer is not owed.

In the Hanafi madhhab, the consideration for owing prayers returns to the state of the person when the prayer time exits. Thus, if a woman is in a state of post-natal bleeding (nifas) when the prayer time exits, she does not owe the prayer of this time and she is not required to make up the missed prayer.

For example, a woman is in the middle of giving birth when Zhuhr enters at 1 pm. She does not have the ability to pray immediately due to her circumstances. She gives birth at 3 pm and Zhuhr ends at 4 pm. When the prayer time exits at 4 pm, she is in a state of post-natal bleeding. Even though she technically had from 1 pm to 3 pm to pray, she does not owe the prayer because when the prayer time exited, she was in a state of post-natal bleeding. She is not sinful for missing this prayer either.

Moreover, she would not resume praying again until either her bleeding stops during the 40 possible days of post-natal bleeding or she reaches 40 complete days (960 hours), even if the bleeding continues.

As previously mentioned, menstruation and post-natal bleeding are the only vaginal bloods that lift the obligation to pray. Once the bleeding stops or the possible 40-day time period has elapsed, she must take a ghusl and resume her worship. For more information of how to take a ghusl, read this article.

Fore more information about menstruation and its related rulings, take our courses.

Ruling #4: Make du’a because supplications are answered during labor!

The supplication (du’a) of the distressed person is answered alhamduliLlah.

Allah Most High says: “Is He not the One who responds to the distressed one when he calls out to Him?” [Qur’an 27:62]

Even in tough moments like when giving birth, it is important to have trust in Allah and to call on Him and seek his protection from any complications. Although one’s attention may be distracted on the physical aspects of giving birth, this is prime time to make du’a for an easy birth and the righteousness of one’s children.

It is also a good idea to busy one’s tongue with easy forms of dhikr, like subhanAllah wa alhamduliLlah wa la ilaha illa Allah wa Allahu akbar. All of this can create a spiritual atmosphere during the labor, increase one’s blessings, and bring mental relief.

Some scholars recommend reciting the following during labor:

  • The first ayat of Surah al-Fath’ (Surah 48)
  • Ya Lateef” as many times possible
  • Surah Maryam (Surah 19)
  • Surah Inshirah (Surah 94)
  • As salaam Alaikum ayuha-nabee wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu
  • Any form of salawat

Other noteworthy supplications during times of distress are:

اللهُمَّ لا سَهْلَ إلا مَا جَعَلتَهُ سَهْلا وَ أنتَ تَجْعَلُ الحزْنَ إذا شِئْتَ سَهْلا

Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja’alatahu sahlan, wa anta taj’alu l-hazana idha shi’ta sahlan

“O Allah, there is no ease except in that which You have made easy, and You make the difficulty, if You wish, easy.”

لا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ الْعَظِيمُ الحلِيمُ، لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ، لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ رَبُّ السَّمَوَاتِ وَرَبُّ الْأَرْضِ وَرَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْكَرِيمِ

La ilaha illa Llahu-l-‘azimu-l-halim. La ilaha illa Llahu, rabbu-l-‘arshi-l-‘azim. La ilaha illa Llahu, rabbus-samawati wa rabbu-l-ardi wa rabbu-l-‘arshi-l-karim

“None has the right to be worshipped except Allah Forbearing. None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, Lord of the magnificent throne. None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, Lord of the heavens, Lord of the Earth and Lord of the noble throne.”

اللَّهُمَّ رَحْمَتَكَ أَرْجُو فَلَا تَكِلْنِي إِلَى نَفْسِي طَرْفَةَ عَيْنٍ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي شَأْنِي كُلَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَا أَنْتَ

Allahumma rahmataka arju. Fala takilni ila nafsi tarfata ‘aynin, wa aslih li sha’ni kullahu. La ilaha illa anta

“O Allah, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for a blink of an eye and rectify for me all of my affairs. None has the right to be worshipped except You.”

لا إلهَ إلا أنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظّالِمِيْنَ

La ilaha illa anta, subhanaka, inni kuntu mina z–zalimin

“None has the right to be worshipped except You. How perfect You are, verily I was among the wrong-doers.”

يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّوْمُ بِرَحْمَتِكَ أَسْتَغِيْث

Ya Hayyu Ya Qayyum! Bi rahmatika astagheeth

“O Living and Eternal Maintainer! By Your mercy I seek help!”

لا حَوْلَ وَلا قُوَّةَ إِلا بِالله

La hawla wa la quwwata illaa biLlah

No power nor might except with Allah

Some women generously collect supplications from their friends and family, and they recite them in-between contractions. A woman can even assign someone else to read the supplications out loud and she says ‘ameen’ to them if it is easier. Print them out or store them on a phone in one place inshaAllah.

Ruling #5: Give the adhan and the iqama after the baby is born.

It is related that the Prophet ﷺ said the adhan (call to prayer) in the ear of Husayn ibn Ali after Sayyidatuna Fatima gave birth to him (Allah be pleased with both of them). [Tirmidhi]

Another narration states that the Prophet ﷺ encouraged saying the adhan in the right ear and the iqama in the left ear of a newborn. [Bayhaqi]

Based on these narrations, some scholars deem that it is sunna to give the adhan in the right ear of the child and the iqama in the left ear. 

The wisdom behind giving the adhan is that the first words the child hears is a calling to faith and prayer, which are the essential pillars of Islam.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” [Bukhari]

Even if giving birth is difficult, inshaAllah it will be a means to wash away one’s sins and earn Allah’s good pleasure.

May Allah Most High give every mommy a safe and healthy birth, and answer everyone’s supplications inshaAllah.

The following are related articles:

I am heavily pregnant and praying is difficult. Can pregnant women pray sitting down?

The Sick Person’s Prayer With Pictures

The Chronic Excuse Rulings: A Complete Breakdown

Istihada: What Is It? And Examples


References:

  • Imam Ala al-Din Abidin, الهدية العلائية
  • Imam ibn Abidin, رد المحتار على الدر المختار
  • Imam ibn Abidin, منهل الواردين من بحار الفيض على ذخر المتأهلين في مسائل الحيض
  • Imam Shurunbalali, مراقي الفلاح
  • Imam Mulla Ali al-Qari, مرقاة المفاتيح شرح مشكاة المصابيح

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