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Tips From Pregnant & Nursing Women

Pregnant and nursing women are required to fast Ramadan.

A pregnant or nursing woman is only excused from fasting the current month of Ramadan if she fears that fasting will cause harm to her or her baby. Read more about these rulings here.

The following is a collection of practical advice from several mothers who tried fasting during Ramadan and what worked for them alhamduliLlah.

A Mother Of Six Children

Alhamdulillah since my second pregnancy, I have always been either pregnant or nursing and so there are a few things that I found essential in being able to fast through Ramadan with the least amount of difficulty.

Also, I’ve fasted all trimesters and some are easier and some are a bit more tough and take more out of you.  Similarly, depending on how old your baby is, it is easier to fast if the child is eating versus one that is a newborn and just on breast milk.

Here’s what helped me:

  1. A proper intention to fulfill Allah’s decree.
  2. Lots of dua for ease.
  3. SUHOOR  a great big fat suhoor.  I’m talking like two eggs, even a protein shake or your own milk shake with yogurt and dates as well as a glass of milk ( you need milk to produce milk).  Also, a lot of cultural practices offer heavy foods that keep you full for longer such as oatmeal (which also increases milk production), semolina cooked in milk and other such porridge like foods.  Also, yansoon brings in more milk and it also prevents bloating for both you and baby. The 2 egg policy has been amazing masha Allah, it really keeps you going.  I also drink a glass of water and take my multivitamins, also very important due to the decrease in nutrient consumption throughout the day.
  4. After you break your fast, you need to be drinking throughout that time till you go to bed.  Also, trying to have a handful of nuts such as cashews or walnuts will help you with energy and nutrients for the next day.
  5. REST, REST, REST. I know that is difficult for moms but it is essential while pregnant or nursing to take a nap no matter what.  Without it, you might feel nauseous, exhausted to the point of feeling light headed.  Also, try to make baby sleep a bit more so you can get a break.
  6. Try your best to extend the feeding times in between two feedings.  The last feeding before iftaar is always the most difficult because you milk supply is very low, and so baby might fuss because he didn’t get enough but just keep him on and soothe till iftaar time.  Usually the time of the last feeding before iftaar is usually not that long.  Stay positive because it affects milk supply and your milk supply will adjust to your fasting after a few days because your body (Allah’s amazing creation) recognizes how much you need and when you need it the most and so if you nurse your  baby as often as he needs, the milk will come.
  7. Try to avoid eating junk but don’t worry if you have that piece of chocolate that you wanted, don’t go overboard and make it difficult on yourself by being strict. It is difficult to maintain and will wear you down.  Also, you are probably dealing with lack of sleep and so be easy on yourself, be positive and don’t play the blame game cause you had a chocolate bar. Just try to do better when you can.

A Mother Of Five Children

What helped me in fasting while pregnant or breastfeeding was to up my water intake as much as possible, changing my hours so I stayed up late and woke up later in the morning (I would make the kids do this to) and taking a nap straight after Asr.

But the biggest motivator was not wanting to make up fasts! I couldn’t fast with my first two pregnancies because I would faint if I didn’t eat little and often and once during breastfeeding I couldn’t fast as my baby wasn’t on solids yet and the hours of fasting in England were so long that a practicing Muslima doctor told me that if I did fast then in her opinion my milk would most likely dry up.

These fasts have been soooo hard to make up (I’m still making them up) that it made me determined not to do it again so last 3 pregnancies and breastfeedings I have fasted no matter what and Alhamdullilah all has been good. I even end up having more milk when I’m fasting, the barakah of the month! Masha’Allah.

A Mother Of Three Children

I’ve fasted in my second trimester, and fasted while nursing a baby who was not yet on solids, and also one when he was on solids.

When pregnant and nursing, I tried to drink a lot of water at night. I rested as much as possible, for me the fasting was my ibada, in other words it took what I had to give just to fast, so I made that the priority over trying to do anything extra.

I think I was advised to increase the solids for the baby who was taking solids to reduce their need from me.

I’m sure I also made dua for Allah to make it easy. I remember the first day I fasted pregnant in my first pregnancy, I found it so hard and thought I wouldn’t be able to. After that it was not difficult.

A Mother Of Three Children

Fasting while nursing and pregnant is different for each person. I listened to my body. For me, fasting while pregnant is easy at the start of it. I’ve had two Ramadans during which I’ve been pregnant; one was with my daughter. I was 7 months pregnant then, and then with my son, I was 8 months pregnant then. For both, I started out fasting and was able to do the first ten days. After that, I felt extremely exhausted, would feel extremely nauseous and also had muscle atrophy during my daughter’s pregnancy. The latter was a clear sign I should take it easy.

I don’t just stop fasting altogether, but I will fast, and then take a day or two off before fasting again. I will go about it like this until finishing all of Ramadan. I believe for both pregnancies, I basically did about 15-20 days of fasts.

As for nursing and fasting, no problem! One can always top up the baby with formula or goat’s milk. I was nursing my eldest son when Ramadan came that year. I would be quite exhausted but because I only had one baby, I was able to rest a lot and take it easy. I also gave him formula towards the end of the day when my milk’s quality wasn’t as good. I only missed fasts that Ramadan due to my period.

A Mother Of Four Children

I’ve alhamdulillah fasted the entire month during all three trimesters (with the second trimester being the easiest) and fasted while nursing each of my kids, two of whom were still only exclusively breastfeeding. Some people find nursing and fasting harder, whereas I found pregnancy and fasting to be much harder.

What helped the most and made the fasts manageable was switching my schedule as much as possible. The more of the fast you can sleep, the easier it is. So get your other kids on a later schedule as much as possible, and nap when younger children are napping or older children are having quiet time.

Switching your schedule also allows you to be awake more of the night so that you have ample time to eat well and hydrate, since it’s hard while pregnant to eat a lot at once.

Lighten things off your load, which might mean, for example, freezing food ahead of time or ordering some meals; making sure you take on no extra responsibilities during the month, etc. Fasting should be your priority.

During extra hot days, make sure to leave the house as little as possible and keep the house cool. I remember during my 4th pregnancy, I was in my first trimester and throwing up an empty stomach at 2pm each day. I didn’t leave the house at all during the last 10 days!

With my first child, I was at the end of my third trimester during Ramadan. I mentioned to my non-Muslim midwife that I intended to fast, and she was fully supportive because she had previously worked with a Muslim ob/gyn who had fasted through her pregnancies. Alhamdulillah, that was very encouraging the first time around.

A Mother Of Two Children

How I coped with fasting during my pregnancies and while nursing:

  1. I drank lactation smoothies both during pregnancy and while nursing. Google recipes.  Lactation smoothies are a compilation of all different kinds of galactagogues. They are both filling and help to produce milk. Oats, and coconut and or coconut milk really made a difference for me because of the high fat content and it produced milk. So because the smoothies were so fattening I stayed full nearly until Maghreb. My milk supply would often be completely depleted at Maghreb but once I began drinking at Maghreb my milk supply returned immediately. I nursed during the longest fasting days of the year with ease alhamdulilah wa shukrulilah.
  2. I also drank a multi vitamin drink most mornings and took other supplements in the evening such as iron and drank lots of fluids in the evening. I didn’t try to consume too many carbi things like breads or rices because they were too filling without enough benefit nutritionally. They didn’t help me hydrate or nutrify so they weren’t a high priority. I went for meats and veg and ate plenty of watery fruits such as melon.
  3. I didn’t try to over work. Reserving my energy and milk supply were priority.

A Mother Of Five Children

There are a lot of factors to consider, the age of your baby is a big one. Also each individual’s constitution and eating habits. With my last two kids alhamdulillah I was able to fast without difficulty. I would make a nutrient and fat dense smoothie every suhur with almond milk, avocado, tahini, coconut oil, raw organic free range egg, banana and a couple dates. I’d drink 2 cups of it, and then proceed to eat 2 eggs with veggies or salad, and fermented veggies. Then I’d drink as much water as i could stomach. I would then take it easy all day, avoiding the summer heat or strenuous activity.

A Mother Of Four Children

Alhumdullillah I was able to fast during Ramadan while being pregnant and while nursing my 4 children.

During pregnancy I found it best to just take it easy really lower your standards on anything and everything that you can. Eat simple foods. Don’t go out too much. You don’t have to attend every iftar invite.

The first days of Ramadan when I was 9 months pregnant I would just plan on laying in bed most of the day. I only got up when necessary. The first days were not easy but I got through it.

Dua! Asking Allah to help you and making this easy for you. Also having a positive mindset that yes you can do this really does help. Yes you can do hard things.

When pregnant or nursing with other small children at home I really just focused on the fasting and praying taraweh. Those were my two very basic goals.

Also after I had my first son my mother in law told me about praying taraweh where you read a Surah from the last ten surahs of the Quran in each rakah. After 10 rakahs you repeat the 10 surahs again. This really helped me to get my taraweh in during those times when I was in survival mode.

When nursing a younger baby, I would switch there feeding schedule around where they nursed more at night ( when we are not fasting) and less in the day. I was up most of the night anyway since the time between isha / taraweh and fajr in the summer is so short.

After iftar your water bottle is your best friend keep it by your side and sip throughout the night. Not drinking enough water can cause one to have early labor.

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Naielah Ackbarali

Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali is the founder and CEO of Muslima Coaching. She is passionate about inspiring Muslim women by way of spreading the beauty of living an Islamic life. Ustadha Naielah is a trained strategic relationship coach, certified life coach, and a certified NLP Master Practitioner. Combined with her knowledge of the shariah sciences, coaching experience, and personal marriage of 15 years, she also offers faith-based marriage coaching and relationship advice.