I am pregnant, am i obligated to fast?
I am exclusively breastfeeding…..should i skip fasting?
“Baita you are not well, do not fast, just give food to a poor person instead”
My desi environment tells me it is absolutely OK to skip my fast in all the aforementioned situations.
However when i speak to my friends and family abroad, they tell me they have been fasting during pregnancies and nursing periods, and that too some pretty looong Rozas out there.
I am confused!
Who do i listen to?
Also, my folks abroad judge me many times if i skip my fasts, and desi folks tell me i am just over-burdening and over-stressing myself! :/
Interestingly, before you get pregnant, you rarely ponder over these issues, but once you are there, it leaves you completely confused. You come across different opinions and debates and fear being judged.
While religion is totally a personal matter, and you can NOT force somebody to fast, so many mothers stay unclear on whether they can or not, should or should not, fast during the month of Ramadan.
So Should i fast or not?
Most Muslim scholars agree that a woman HAS A CHOICE in skipping the fast while she is pregnant or breastfeeding. This does NOT MEAN that you are exempted from fasting completely, instead you HAVE TO MAKE UP for the fast or give Fidyah (feed a poor person per fast missed)
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).
184. [Observing Sawm (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you know”
Based on this reference from an Ayat of Surah Al-Baqarah, there are few different school of thoughts when it comes to whether a woman who has missed out fasts, should make up for the fasts, give Fidyah or do both. One school of thought considers women who have skipped a fast to be like a temporary ill person who has to make up for it when they can. Other school of thought considers women to be in the later category of those who can fast with difficulty and can pay Fidyah instead only. And a third school of thought says they should do both. We found THIS particular discussion regarding the views of different scholars very resourceful.
Also, this video by Dr Zakir Naik below gives a ‘simply put’ religious perspective on whether or not a breastfeeding or pregnant woman should fast.
So Now that you are clear on whether one can or can not fast while breastfeeding or pregnancy, another legit question that could pop up in your mind is whether your fasting during pregnancy or while nursing will harm you or your baby in any way, or decrease your milk supply?
Can Fasting affect me or my baby?
Do you know that if you maintain a healthy balance diet during Iftar & Sehri, your milk supply WILL NOT DECREASE? So your baby WILL end up getting their food even if you do fast and are breastfeeding. Did you know that your body is naturally designed to use your fat stores in case your calories intake is less for sometime? For a more crisp insight, you might want to read this post by Kellymom.
However, IF fasting is affecting YOUR health by leaving YOU drained out, exhausted, dizzy or sick, you can definitely skip the fast.
Also, it is VERY IMPORTANT to discuss this with your gynecologist, as they will be in a better situation to guide you about fasting, keeping in mind you and your baby’s condition. Some pregnancies are complicated in itself. There are situations like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia etc where your doc might advise you against fasting.
Many studies which have compared the health of fasting & non fasting moms, suggested there to be NO DIFFERENCE in the chemical composition of blood between both the moms, BUT it is best to consult your doctor before finalizing your decision to fast.
(Source article: Click here)
Whether you can or can not conveniently fast in pregnancy depends on how far you are. Many women comfortably fast in the first few months of pregnancy but it is more difficult as the baby grows. Not only are they taking more nutrition from you, but you also tend to be more lethargic in the later part of pregnancies. It is best to take your doctor’s advise before fasting.
How to take care of myself if i am fasting while breastfeeding/ pregnancy?
A few tips to help you pull through your fast while breastfeeding or early pregnancy are:
*First thing first, you MUST consult your doctor and go through a proper check up. There might be a condition you are not aware of which hinders you from fasting.
*Stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 -10 glasses of water between iftar and sehri
*DO NOT skip sehri at any cost
*Eat A BALANCED DIET including high fiber food, whole grains and seeds, milk, proteins, fruits and vegetables.
*Avoid fried & high sugar food as it will only make you feel more thirsty and empty.
*Do most of the chores (especially outdoor) well in advance before Ramadan begins, or after iftar time.
*Try to rest more during fast
*Do NOT forget your supplements if you are taking any in pregnancy and post delivery.
*Do NOT refuse help.
*Listen to your instincts and if you feel unwell, dizzy or nauseous, you may break the fast
*How about going for alternate days fasting if you feel unwell?
Did you fast during pregnancy or while nursing? How did your experience go? DO you have some particular useful tips to share with us?
We really hope this simple article answers all your queries and helps you make an informed and wise decision this Ramadan. Our purpose was to give you a crisp and to the point insight, and we really hope it helped you. Do let us know in the comments below your feedback, and let us know how your fasts went.
HAPPY FASTING, MOMS 🙂