Modesty in the Hospital

A few people have mentioned this topic to me, or asked me what my modesty plans were with my upcoming surgery.

Do I plan to keep my hair covered all the time in the hospital, will I be wearing a hospital gown with my posterior peeking through the back, do I even care about being modest in the hospital?

So here are my thoughts. Of course I will try to keep myself modest at all times. However, I honestly don’t believe that it needs to be my primary concern. I will try to make sure my hair is covered if I have visitors but honestly, if I am in too much pain to care about it, so be it. If I am in that much pain that I don’t care, I won’t want to see anyone anyway.

I know this is different than giving birth, but I remember the first birth. I made sure that my tichel was on my head every second of that 38 hour labour. It didn’t matter that below the waist was uncovered. I spent so much energy making sure it was covered and it was just ridiculous. No one was looking at my head! I soon learned that you leave modesty at the door when giving birth in a busy hospital. There is no way to give birth and keep everything covered at all times.

My health is my priority. Will I try to be modest? Absolutely. Will I allow it to drive me crazy? Absolutely not.

What are your thoughts?

Post Written by


  1. Mark says:

    Sounds good to me. Later while recovering and having regular visitors you can more closely ensure the usual regimen of tzniut.

    By the way, they will probably put your hair in a kind of shower cap thing during surgery (to keep it out of the way), so your hair will actually be covered during the actual surgery :-)

    Refuah Shlemah Bekarov!

  2. Nora says:

    Perfectly put! I didn’t worry about modesty until after we were in recovery and having visitors. Your comfort and recovery definitely take precedence.

  3. Susan says:

    I want to wish you lots of good luck and a speedy recovery. Just a thought for after your surgery when you are home resting. Plan now for comfy clothes to wear, like a hoody sweatshirt with a zipper,big t-shirt, button down shirts,and sweatpants. anything that’s easy for you to put on and take off without straining your neck or body too much. Oh, and take a pillow and blanket with you in the car when you come home from the hospital in case you are chilled. good luck.

  4. Susan says:

    oh and for the hospital gown, just ask the nurse for a second one and you use it as a robe to cover the “back”. Hopefully you won’t have to stay long in the hospital and will be home quickly.

  5. I know we’re in very different places, Jewishly, but I’m glad to read this. An Orthodox friend of mine once told me that she wondered what she’d do if there were an emergency on Shabbos – and then her toddler broke her leg, & she found out that of COURSE she’d get in the car & drive her to the hospital immediately. I think that when it comes down to health issues, little else matters. Tie a handkerchief around your head & pull the covers up & call it a modest day. Focus on feeling better!

  6. Lili says:

    I find that hospitals here (in Seattle) are pretty good about it. I usually wear a soft snood and ask for a blanket since the hospital gowns are so small. It’s just important to make sure you don’t have any metal in your covering (like pins, barrettes, etc.). Of course it depends on what you’re having done – obviously if the procedure is on your head or neck, one has to be practical.

  7. I think that the good Lord is more practical and forgiving about such things than we are, sometimes. Aren’t there special circumstances under which the normal “rules” are suspended or even discouraged in favor of health and safety?

    I think you’re right – when you feel up to caring about modesty and doing for yourself or asking someone for help with it, then you’re ready. Until then, it should be the least of your concerns. Let the nurses know it’s important to you beforehand, so they can write a note on your chart. Your family knows. Friends who think it ought to be among your top concerns – they don’t need to visit until you’re home and up to receiving them while fully dressed, anyway. :)

    When I was in the hospital for surgery in January, I had to have shots each day in my abdomen. I’m terrified of needles and dreaded those almost more than anything else, including the 12-hour surgery itself. I kind of figured I was up to leaving and getting my sense of decency and modesty back into place the morning I offered to do the “Nekkid Hiney Dance around the nurses’ station” if only the nurse would give HERSELF the shot, instead.

  8. Batya says:

    I’m sure you’ll find easy ways to stay covered, small soft hats to cover your hair. The advantage of covering your hair is that you don’t have to worry about it. If your hair is long, it may be a good idea to cut it, because tying it will be difficult and makes a “bump,” not good for your neck when lying down. In Israel, it’s very common to wear one’s own robe over the hospital pjs.
    Refuah shleimah!!!

  9. Baila says:

    I find it annoying that people have even asked you that question.

  10. Robyn says:

    I agree with Baila. Seriously, there are certain things way more important than the issue of tznius. You’re going into the hospital for major surgery, for G-d’s sake! If any of these “friends” (I use the term loosely, because if they were TRULY your friends, they’d care way more about your health than your knees and hair showing) had asked ME about this topic, the yetzer hara would rear its ugly head and THOSE people would be in the hospital with broken noses, concussions, black eyes, etc. from me beating them up. Honestly, this post has angered me and flat out pisses me off. Hashem himself is probably reeling from the fact that these people who most likely consider themselves good Jews (and better Jews than those who are not Orthodox/frum) would put your health and well-being SECOND to the rules of modesty. This is completely despicable and abominable behaviour.

  11. Robyn, I don’t think it was meant the way you took it, honestly. Being tznius in the hospital is VERY important to ME on a personal level as I feel it is a part of me, not something outside forced on me by society. Not everyone shares my perspective, I’m sure, but since it is on that level for me, I could see myself asking or being asked the question without feeling that it detracts in anyway for concern for anyone’s health and well-being. So I wouldn’t call it despicable or abominable and I don’t think it was meant that way at all.

    In general, I trust the doctors to take care of the health and well-being part but not to know or care about tznius – therefore it becomes something to think about and plan for. Around here, Kosher food is in the same category, because the hospitals only have airline meals — when my daughter was in the hospital recovering from having her ruptured appendix removed and on a liquid only diet, the only thing the hospital had that she could reasonably eat was juice, soda and popsicles. She’s also a very picky eater and wouldn’t touch the airline meals anyway, so I sent food for her once she was back on solids — but I had to plan for that. (But I also let her wear the standard hospital gown and simply brought her a robe to put over it for walking the halls. That was “tznius enough” for a hospital stay.)

Leave A Reply