In this post we are going to discuss ramadan and pregnancy. If you are a pregnant mom or planning to become pregnant, you may be thinking about whether you should still fast during Ramadan. Hopefully, this blog will help provide you with the information you need.
Do I have to fast?
Islamic law permits pregnant and breastfeeding women to exempt fasting if she fears that it will harm baby and mother health. Pregnant women can make up missed days of fasting at a later date. However, some pregnant Muslim moms decided to fast during Ramadan. This is your own decision and will depend on your own health conditions such as the stage or trimester of pregnancy, how you feel like, and have you experienced any problems in your pregnancy time. In a study conducted by Mirghani et al, it was founded that there is no significant difference between non-fasting and fasting moms regarding fetus weight at the 30th week of pregnancy
Fasting should be discussed with your doctor, identify any potential complications you may be at risk of when fasting. In addition, get their advice on whether fasting is likely to harm you or your baby’s health. El Ati et al in a study show that if calories do not change during fasting in a healthy mom, weight, body composition and fat level do not change.
Is fasting during pregnancy safe?
Research is still ongoing and the evidence is not so clear, many experts believe it is not a safe idea to fast during pregnancy. Some evidence shows that pregnant moms who fast during Ramadan may have smaller placentas, and have babies with lower birth weights, as compared to other moms who don’t fast. In a study, fasting moms were divided into four groups and it was observed that fasting during the 3rd trimester can cause a significant reduction in birth time weight (El Ati et al).
The risk of dehydration increases by fasting, especially in summer Ramadan, and this dehydration affects the kidney’s function and the fluid surrounding your baby. In a study by Cross et al, it was found that low-weight births are more frequent in the 2nd trimester. The impact of fasting during pregnancy may depend on the stage of pregnancy, and the overall health of the mother. More research is still needed to fully understand the impact of fasting on the health and development of the baby.
What if I decide to fast during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is quite a challenging time for your body in terms of fluids and nutrients it needs. If you are planning to fast in Ramadan during pregnancy, make sure to take some advice from your doctor and perform any necessary health checks.
In addition not to fast on a daily basis, try to consider fasting on some days of the month e.g. fasting on weekends or alternate days to make it more manageable.
What to eat when you break fast
With your balanced pregnancy diet, choose a variety of healthy foods, including:
- Foods are rich in minerals and vitamins such as calcium and iron.
- Protein-rich foods, like eggs, meat, and beans.
- Slow release energy foods, such as oats, bran-based cereals, wholewheat pasta, unsalted nuts, beans and pulses, and wholemeal bread.
- Drink plenty of fluids, including foods that have a high water content such as fruits, soups, vegetables, porridge, and stews in your ‘suhoor’ and ‘iftar’ meals to keep yourself hydrated.
What to avoid when breaking fast:
- Caffeine, because it can make you feel more dehydrated.
- Foods that are hard to digest.
- Greasy or acidic foods that could give you heartburn.
- Too many sugary drinks and foods, because it can immediately boost your energy but won’t keep you going.
- Other foods that are unsafe in pregnancy.
- Get plenty of rest while you’re fasting as you need more rest.
- Notice the signs of dehydration such as dark urine, dizziness or weakness, and headaches.
- Make sure to take folic acid and vitamin D supplements.
- If you feel that you are not well contact your midwife or doctor as soon as possible.