Tommy's PregnancyHub

Ramadan and Pregnancy - Should I be fasting?

Ramadan is very special time of year for those that follow it – including pregnant and breastfeeding women. Whilst pregnant and breastfeeding women are not expected to fast, for some women this can be a hard adjustment.

Image credit: Instagram @strudelworte

Coronavirus lockdown and Ramadan celebrations 

This year in particular Ramadan will be different for most people due to the social distancing measures in place because of the Covid-19 outbreak.  Whilst there won’t be any large family and friends iftars or congregational prayers in mosques, it’ll be a quieter time to spend with family at home and looking at new ways of feeling connected. You might like to use technology to stay connected with your family, friends and wider religious community. Video and social media can also connect you to worship services and ceremonies.

“Just because you’re in quarantine, it doesn’t mean you have to spend Ramadan alone.”

Rohma Ahmed, spokesperson for Ramadan Tent Project. More than 1,400 people have signed up for nightly iftar broadcast of the call to prayer.

Fasting and pregnancy 

Whilst pregnant and breastfeeding women are not expected to fast, for some women this can be a hard adjustment.  When you are used to fasting every year and family/friends around you are all fasting, its understandable to feel a little sad at missing out.

The exemption from fasting is to protect you and your baby, to keep you both well and safe.  This is especially important for women with pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, as it can make maintaining blood sugar levels tricky, or concerns with your baby’s growth.

Missed fasts can be compensated for by fasting at a later date, or by performing fidyah instead.  And there are still plenty of ways of feeling involved in Ramadan instead – be it spending time on your spirituality or finding things to cut back on such as chocolates or cake!

What if I decide to fast during pregnancy?

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.

Other advice

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.

More information

For guidance around Ramadan during the coronavirus lockdown please visit the UK Government website

For more about pregnancy and Ramadan, visit NHS Choices or the British Nutrition Foundation.

Get advice from other mums-to-be in the Muslim Mamas Facebook Community.

Ramadan Mubarak from the Tommy's midwives team. Please stay home.