Fasting During Pregnancy: All There is to Know
As we all know, Ramadan for Muslims is that one special month of the year to fast and collect blessings. Muslims feel very strongly about it and look forward to it every year. Islam permits people with chronic and other life-threatening medical conditions to not fast, however, this largely depends on the person’s health and only the doctor can analyze and determine whether a person falls in the above-mentioned description. Whilst pregnant and breastfeeding women are not expected to fast, for some it can be a hard adjustment. This article addresses the concerns of all pregnant and breastfeeding women who are fasting, thinking to fast or not fasting this Ramadan.
1. “HeliumDoc, I am a pregnant woman and I really want to fast during my pregnancy. How should I go about it?”
If you decide to fast, you should speak to your midwife or doctor for advice. You can book an online consultation through our website and get advice from the comfort of your house. The doctor will look at your pregnancy history and talk to you about your weight, lifestyle, how many weeks pregnant you are, and whether you have had any complications so far. All of this will help the doctor work out how you will cope with fasting and if there is any extra support you will need. If you do decide to fast, consider taking a break from it every couple of days.
2. “My doctor says that my baby is at risk if I fast but I don’t want to miss my fasts! I feel perfectly healthy. What do I do?”
Most doctors do not recommend fasting during pregnancy. Not only can it lower blood sugar to unhealthy levels, but, as a study suggested it may be associated with preterm birth. It also increases the risk of not getting enough food each day, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies as well as overall energy deficiencies. Whilst some pregnant women can easily fast following meal plans, others cannot. Remember, Islam allows pregnant and breastfeeding women to opt-out of fasting if there are health concerns.
3. “Can I resume fasting after giving birth?”
If you are breastfeeding, it is recommended to wait until after you've weaned to resume fasting. It's also suggested to refrain from fasting immediately after giving birth, as the body needs time to recover from the demands of pregnancy, which requires food and nutrients. Anyone interested in returning to fasting postpartum should seek advice from a medical professional to address concerns and potential complications as well as explore whether it is the right choice for them.
4. “What does Islam say about pregnant women fasting?”
As mentioned before, if a pregnant woman is in a good physical condition and believes she can fast without fear for her health or her baby’s health, she should do so. Otherwise, worry for one’s health or the child’s health during pregnancy is a valid reason for a woman to break her fast if she chooses to. Scholars say that if a woman has sought the advice of a doctor and the doctor has advised her not to fast because it might threaten her health or the health of the fetus, it is recommended for her to not fast.
5. “My doctor has said that I am fit enough to fast and that it will not harm the baby. Can I get some tips on fasting during pregnancy?”
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re fasting during your pregnancy:
· Do not skip Sahoor
Some people may consider skipping the Ramadan pre-dawn meal, also known as sahoor, to try to get some more sleep in the morning. However, skipping this meal may make you feel lethargic throughout the rest of the day as you have less energy. The nutrients you take in from sahoor will help you have more energy than if you decide to sleep in. Make sure you have enough to eat during sahoor to prevent weakness and dehydration until the time you can break your fast for the day.
· Keep yourself hydrated
Pregnant women require more water than average because water is necessary to form the placenta that gives the growing baby her nutrients. Not getting enough water can lead to low amniotic fluid, low breast milk production, and even cause premature labor. Dry mouth, headaches, and dark yellow urine are some signs that you might not be drinking enough fluids. Remember to drink lots of water during your pre-dawn meal (sahoor) and your meal once you break your fast for the day (iftar). It is also helpful to consume foods with high water content like fresh fruits and vegetables to keep yourself hydrated. Avoid eating salty foods as they can make you feel thirstier.
· Have a balanced diet
Keeping a balanced diet is necessary to ensure you and your baby receive enough nutrients. Make sure that your meals at sahoor and iftar contain a balance of nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and fiber. Lean protein and healthy fats from foods like nuts and olive oil are also good sources of nutrients you need to stay healthy during Ramadan. Tap here to get your first meal plan.
· Practice portion control
You do not have to eat huge portions of food during iftar because you may stress your body by overeating. Overeating can lead to indigestion and weight gain, especially if you eat a lot of foods that are high in sugar and salt. You should eat only as much as you need to feel full. This will prevent you from gaining weight or feeling uncomfortable after eating. HeliumDoc recommends getting a Ramadan time meal plan made by a nutritionist.
· Move around to stay active
During Ramadan, it can be tempting to not move around for most of the day to try to conserve energy. However, avoiding exercise entirely can make you feel more lethargic instead. Keeping yourself active through moderate exercise can help to keep your energy levels up throughout the day and reduce the risk of back pain, constipation, and excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Be careful not to over-exert yourself when exercising while pregnant, even if you already exercise frequently outside of pregnancy. Signs that you should stop exercising include calf pain, headaches, regular painful contractions of the uterus, and shortness of breath before starting exercise.
Remember, do not miss your scheduled appointments to rule out any possibilities of complications, and do not make any decisions on your own. The doctor knows best for you and your baby!
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