Tommy's PregnancyHub

Ramadan and pregnancy - Should I be fasting?

Ramadan is very special time of year. Whilst pregnant and breastfeeding women are not expected to fast, for some women this can be a hard adjustment.
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Image credit: Instagram @strudelworte

Fasting and pregnancy 

Islamic law says that pregnant and breastfeeding women are not expected to fast during Ramadan. But, when you are used to fasting every year, and family or friends around you are all fasting, it's understandable to feel like you're missing out! 

Remember, choosing not to fast keeps you both well and safe. This is especially important for women with pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, as fasting can make maintaining blood sugar levels tricky. 

You can make up for the missed fasting by fasting at a later date, or by performing fidyah (a charitable donation) instead.  And there are still plenty of ways to feel involved in Ramadan – 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?

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 your 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 you break your fast

When you eat, try to avoid:

  • 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.

 

Tips if you decide to fast

We don't recommend fasting during pregnancy. If you do decide to fast, follow these tips:

 

Breastfeeding and fasting

Islamic law states that breastfeeding mothers do not have to fast. Again, missed fasts can be compensated for by fasting at a later date, or fidyah (a charitable donation), once breastfeeding has stopped.

COVID-19 vaccines and fasting

If you are fasting, having a COVID-19 vaccine or booster will not break your fast. COVID-19 vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.  Contemporary Muslim scholars have determined that non-nutritious injections are inconsequential to the fast and does not break it. You should not delay your COVID-19 vaccines because of Ramadan.

More information

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.  

In this video, our midwife, Amina, talks to Breastfeeding Peer Supporter and Co-Director for Leicester Mammas, Faranaaz, about fasting during Ramadan for anyone pregnant or breastfeeding.

Leicester Mammas is commissioned by Leicester NHS Trust to deliver breastfeeding support across the city. They provide support in a variety of different languages. To find out more about the great work they do, visit their website mammas.org.uk.