Is Ramadan fasting a must for mom to bes and lactating moms?
Can you breastfeed your baby while you fast?
Can fasting affect you and your baby if you are pregnant?
This post is an answer to all the queries on Ramadan fasting during pregnancy and lactation.
Fasting during Ramzan:
The holy month of Ramadan is here.
According to the Islamic religion this 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar is the time for cleansing oneself, both physically and mentally.
As part of this, the believers of Islamic religion practice a dawn to dusk fasting during this holy month. Fasting is considered as a practice of self-discipline and the highest form of Islamic religious practice.
Every true Muslim is obliged to fast. But the rules of fasting are carefully laid down by the religion keeping in mind the needs of sick and special needs people too.
Ramadan fasting rules for pregnant and breastfeeding women:
According to the Islamic rules, pregnant and nursing women are exempted from fasting if they fear that fasting can harm their or their child’s health. They have to do the missed fasting later once they cease the pregnancy or nursing period.
As Ramadan fasting is a choice for nursing and carrying women, there are many pregnant and breastfeeding women who choose to fast during the Ramadan month and many who keep it for a later time.
Can fasting during pregnancy harm my in utero baby or me?
Studies show that fasting during pregnancy can be harmful for a growing baby depending on your and your baby’s health condition.
Fasting during pregnancy can cause low blood sugar levels, ketosis and dehydration. It can be a reason for the low birth weight of the baby or a preterm labor.
Doctors say that most women may feel well while fasting, but sometimes it can affect their health or their babies’ health without them being aware.
Fasting in the first and last trimester can be difficult as your body will be under more fatigue and exhausted during these times. Also ladies with a high-risk pregnancy or having conditions like diabetics and hypertension should avoid fasting as a precaution.
Having said all these there are also many women who choose to fast while pregnant and successfully complete the fasting without any complications. It is a personal choice and so with all respect it is up to the person.
Is fasting harmful while breastfeeding?
Effects of fasting while breastfeeding also depend on the age of your baby.
If your baby is exclusively breastfeed then fasting can make you more dehydrated, nauseated and weak and baby may not get enough to curb his hunger. This can lead to increased frequency of breastfeeding that be put more pressure on you and the baby.
If your baby has started on solids then your fasting may not affect him as he has other sources to fill his tummy.
How to fast while breastfeeding or pregnant?
Remember that the Islamic fasting laws allows pregnant and breastfeeding moms to opt out of fasting.
But if you are keen on fasting while breastfeeding or carrying you should strictly follow certain guidelines so that your pregnancy or nursing is not affected.
First consult your doctor to rule out any side effects of fasting as per your current health condition.
Also get advise from your doctor regarding the best fasting tips to cop up with the special needs your body demands while carrying or nursing.
5 Tips for healthy Ramadan fasting for pregnant and breastfeeding moms:
Pregnancy and breastfeeding is the phase that demands more energy and nutrition. So diet should be given first priority during these periods.
#1. Keep well hydrated
Dehydration can be the most common problem you will face while fasting.
Dehydration can sometimes induce uterine contractions. So be extra careful on water intake.
Try to include juices, buttermilk and plain water in after you break your fast and also during suhour (pre-dawn) meals. Drink about 1.5 to 2 of water or other fluids between dusk and dawn. Avoid taking coffee and tea.
#2. Eat balanced diet
Those who choose to observe the Ramadan fasting while pregnant or nursing should therefore give more importance to their diet.
Include carbohydrate rich and protein high food.
Include yogurt, soups and fresh fruits in the diet. Avoid oily and salty food.
Try to include a variety of foods such as whole grains and seeds, pulses, vegetables and dry fruits.
When ending the fast have a few dates and a glass of buttermilk. Then you can go for a light soup. After one hour you can have your well-balanced dinner.
Pregnant women must include foods like banana, coconut water, yogurt and kiwi fruit in their diet so that they maintain a proper potassium-sodium balance that is really important during pregnancy.
Don’t overeat or eat too much at one go when you break the fast. Eat small meals at regular intervals after you end fasting.
Breastfeeding moms can take powdered fenugreek seeds to boost milk production.
#3. Don’t miss the suhour meal
Some people find it difficult to get up in the early morning and have food and so they skip the suhour.
But when you are fasting the suhour meal that you eat before sunrise is really important to help you keep energetic throughout your fasting day hours. So don’t skip the suhour meal.
#4. Don’t forget supplements and vitamins
Pregnant ladies should not forget to take the supplements and vitamins. Breastfeeding moms can also take supplements to make sure their vitamin and mineral needs are catered.
#5. Take rest
Have naps and rest as far as possible during daytime. Avoid travelling or strenuous works. Don’t go out when in hot sun. This can make you more dehydrated and tired.
Breastfeeding moms should also take plenty of rest and avoid stress as this can affect the milk supply. Continue your normal breastfeeding routines throughout the day.
What warning signs should I look for to know if my body is not equipped for fasting?
If you are fasting while pregnant or breastfeeding, break the fast immediately and consult a doctor if you see any of the below warning signs.
For pregnant fasting ladies below signs can be a warning:
- You are losing weight or not putting the required weight recommended for your pregnancy stage
- Your urine is of dark color and strong smelling or you are having considerably less pee
- Your in utero baby is not moving or has less movements than normal
- You are having contraction like pains
- Even after taking rest you are feeling dizzy or exhausted
For exclusively breastfeeding moms look for these warning signs in your baby:
- Your baby is not peeing enough or has dark pee
- Greenish poop
- Crying continuously without setting after several attempts
- Sudden weight loss
The above symptoms can mean that your pregnant body is not ready to undergo fasting or your baby is not getting enough breast milk when you are fasting.
In such cases when you feel your body cannot undergo the pressure of fasting please respect the law laid down by the Islamic scholars and stop fasting.
Keep in mind that Ramadan fasting is optional for pregnant ladies and breastfeeding mothers. Respect this special consideration given to you by the religion and don’t overstrain yourself by fasting if you fear a damage to you or your baby.
Instead of fasting you as a very true believer can offer your penitence to God in the form of reading holy Quran, praying, helping the needy or serving the poor. And you can always do the missed out fasting after your pregnancy phase or nursing phase.
God bless. Happy Ramadan.
Hope the article on Ramadan fasting for pregnant and lactating moms was informative.
Did you fast during your pregnancy? How was your experience? What tips would you give to ladies who are observing Ramadan fasting? Cmon friends I would like to hear your views too.
Disclaimer: Whether to fast or not to fast is a decision you take all by yourself. Please talk with your doctor and your religious scholars to decide for yourself.