If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and observing Ramadan, you may be wondering whether you should or shouldn’t fast during the month.
Should you fast if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding?
Many Muslims of all ages will fast, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding you can fast if you want to, but it is not an expectation, and you are exempt if you wish.
Your decision can depend on a few factors, such as your individual health, other pre-existing medical conditions, and time of year.
Fasting in Pregnancy
It is not recommended to fast during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. If you are otherwise healthy with an uncomplicated pregnancy then fasting during the second and third trimester is usually safe.
Fasting and Breastfeeding
When making the decision to fast, your health and your baby’s health is important, so you must ensure this is not compromised in any way.
Fasting is not recommended if you have a baby under 6 months and you are exclusively breastfeeding. This is especially important in the first 6 weeks or so when your breast milk supply is being established.
If your baby is over 6 months old and you are well then you can fast, but you should take into account how you feel when making the decision.
In Islam, health comes first, so if it is more harmful to fast for any reason then you would be exempt, for example if you have a condition such as gestational diabetes. There are also alternatives, such as fasting at a different time, fasting only on some days, or giving money to charity (fidyah).
So, for example, in a year when Ramadan is in the middle of summer, you may choose to fast in December instead. Or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and otherwise well, you might decide to try fasting during weekends only.
Tips if you decide to fast
- Get plenty of rest, as you’re likely to be more tired.
- Be careful in the last trimester of pregnancy as your body needs an extra 200 calories daily.
- Watch out for signs of dehydration, such as dark urine, dizziness, or weakness.
- Make sure to eat your pre-sunrise meal.
- Have plenty of fluids during the time you can eat and drink.
- Eat foods high in nutrients such as dates or nuts.
- Continue to breastfeed your baby responsively day and night.
- Listen to your body and break your fast if you feel unwell.
If you want any further advice at any time about breastfeeding, contact your health visitor.