Tommy’s midwives’ blog, 16/05/2018
Islamic law says you don’t have to fast during pregnancy if you feel unwell, or if you are afraid that fasting may cause harm to your baby.
There is medical evidence to show that fasting during pregnancy can be harmful. Women with pregnancy complications should be especially cautious. Particularly those with gestational diabetes, as it can make maintaining blood sugar levels tricky.
What happens if you decide not to fast?
Missed fasts can be compensated for by fasting at a later date, or by performing fidyah instead.
What if I decide to fast during pregnancy?
We would recommend that you don't fast during pregnancy for the health of you and your baby. However, it is a personal decision and if you decide to do so, you should speak to your midwife or doctor for advice.
They 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 an complications so far. All of this will help them 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.
What to eat when you break fast
As with any balanced pregnancy diet, choose a range of healthy foods, including:
- Foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as iron and calcium.
- Slow release energy foods, such as wholewheat pasta, oat or bran based cereals, beans and pulses, unsalted nuts and wholemeal bread.
- Protein-rich foods, like meat, beans and eggs.
Make sure to drink plenty of fluids during suhoor and iftar to reduce your risk of dehydration.
What to avoid when breaking fast:
- Caffeine, as it can make you feel more dehydrated.
- Foods which are difficult to digest.
- Acidic or greasy foods that could give you heartburn.
- Too many sugary foods and drinks, as these give you an immediate boost of energy but won’t keep you going.
- Any foods that are unsafe in pregnancy.
- Get plenty of rest while you’re fasting as you’re likely to have less energy.
- Be extra careful if you’re fasting during the last three months of pregnancy as this is a time when you usually need 200 extra calories.
- Watch out for signs of dehydration such as dark urine, dizziness or weakness, and headaches.
- Remember to take your folic acid and vitamin D supplements.
- If you feel that something isn't quite right contact your midwife or doctor.
Breastfeeding and fasting
A similar rule applies to breastfeeding women.
Islamic law states that breastfeeding mothers do not have to fast. Again, missed fasts must be compensated for by fasting at a later date, or fidyah, once breastfeeding has stopped.
Get advice from other mums-to-be in the Muslim Mamas Facebook Community.
Ramadan Mubarak from the Tommy's midwives team.
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