Many Muslim women are worried so much when it comes to fasting during their pregnancy and breastfeeding period. There is always confusion regarding this matter as many Muslim scholars tell women to fast during both these phases and some recommend not to fast if they are incapable of fasting. If you go to a doctor, they will also advise you not to fast based on your health and your baby’s health. But first, let me tell you something very important. Islam doesn’t force you to fast during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or if you have any health issues. Islam is a wonderful religion, in which people are given so many other alternatives if they are not able to do something that is compulsory in Islam. Performing namaz is compulsory for every Muslim when they reach puberty. Due to some health issues, if they are not able to perform namaz standing, they can sit and perform. If they are not able to sit, they can sleep and perform. If they have very low energy or feel paralysis, they can imagine and perform with their mind and heart. The same applies to hajj and umra too. Hajj and umra are compulsory only once in a lifetime. So you can do it whenever you are free, and have money, energy, and time. So as a Muslim, if you are worried to fast the whole month of Ramzan, then please read this article till the end to know what are the best alternatives that you can do instead of fasting for the whole month when you are pregnant. I have also written my personal experience of fasting in Ramzan when I was 7 months pregnant.
What is Fasting?
There are two types of fasting. Partial fasting o intermittent fasting, and complete fasting or fasting in Ramzan from sunrise to sunset. Partial fasting is done in case of weight loss, or for good health. Here you fast for half a day or mainly at night. You will have your dinner at 5 pm or 6 pm and then straight breakfast at 9 am or 10 am but you can have water in between. Some people fast alternate days and some thrice or twice a week. Some fast for a few hours and some for long hours. This all depends on the well-being of the person and his body type. Another fasting is done during the month of Ramzan by Muslims from sunrise to sunset. And this is compulsory for every Muslim. In this fast, you should not drink water or have food from sunrise to sunset. That is from 5 am to 6.30 pm. After 6.30 pm you can eat or drink anything till 5 am. And this cycle continues for 30 days. Science tells us that intermittent fasting or complete fasting is very good for our body to lose weight and stay healthy. However, when you are pregnant or breastfeeding intermittent fasting is recommended. You can also fast in Ramzan, but you have to be very very careful. You have to take a lot of precautions and take care of yourself completely. It is not compulsory to fast when you are pregnant or nursing your baby in Islam.
Is fasting safe during pregnancy?
The answer to this question is within you. You are the correct person to decide if you can fast or if your body can handle fasting throughout the month. First, ask yourself, then go to doctors and scholars for advice. If you go to a doctor, they will examine you and your baby closely and tell you if you are capable to fast during pregnancy. If you and your baby are healthy without any complications in pregnancy like gestational diabetes, thyroid, High blood pressure, anemia, low birth weight, and underweight mother, you can fast without any hesitation. But still, many expert doctors recommended not to fast so that you can stay active, hydrated, and healthy during pregnancy. If you are going through other health issues like typhoid, dengue, malaria, etc, then, of course, you will not be able to fast. Islamic scholars and Islam also tells you the same thing if you are unable to fast or if you are worried that fasting might affect the health of you and your baby then you can skip it and keep the fasts in the future. Or pay fidya to needy people, or feed the needy.
Fasting can affect your health slightly but it won’t affect your baby growing inside. You may feel weak, dehydrated, and overtired when you fast because your baby will take a lot of energy from you to grow. So in my opinion, it’s better not to fast. You can keep those missed fast later in the future when your body is ready. Because through my personal experience, I have noticed that fasting can cause severe dehydration in your body when you are pregnant. And dehydration can have a severe impact on our growing baby. If you want to fast, you have to make sure that you drink plenty of fluids throughout the night and eat enough healthy food. And we all know we are a bit lazy when it comes to eating healthy and drinking lots of water. With your busy lifestyle, or with other kids around you, you will not be able to do it. If you have someone to help you or support you, then you can do it perfectly. You can try intermittent fasting if you want to lose weight or feel light and healthy.
Now let’s conclude. Fasting in Ramzan or intermittent fasting is safe for you and your baby as long as you both are healthy. But remember, if you want to fast, you have to follow a proper diet and keep yourself hydrated. You have to check the weather in which Ramzan comes. If it’s summer, you have to take extra care. If it’s winter, or rainy, your fasts will be peaceful. The second trimester of pregnancy is the best phase to keep a fast because you won’t have any pregnancy symptoms like vomiting, gastric, headaches, dizziness, nausea, etc, that you had in your first trimester. Fasting during the third trimester can also be a little tough because of the pregnancy weight, baby weight, feeling full, and tiredness.
When not too fast in Pregnancy?
- Gestational diabetes.
- High blood pressure.
- If the mother is underweight.
- Low birth weight of the baby.
- Feeling dizzy or weak.
- Have diseases like typhoid, malaria, dengue, etc.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Losing weight instead of gaining.
- Over exhausted.
Tricks to fast easily in Pregnancy:-
- Fast during winters and monsoons.
- Drink plenty of water during suhoor and iftar. Drink at least 8 glasses of water by giving one hour gap for each.
- Eat fiber-rich foods.
- Eat protein-rich food and vegetable salads.
- Eat seasonal fruits. (Avoid pineapple and Papaya during pregnancy).
- Avoid oily foods like deep-fried items.
- Drink fresh fruit juices and coconut water daily.
- Avoid added masalas and keep your food light.
- Take proper rest at home throughout the day.
- Don’t go outside under the sun in the afternoon.
- Avoid doing heavy work and exercises.
- Lie down whenever you get time.
- Eat dates and dry fruits to boost your immunity.
- If you want to go shopping or outside, go after iftaar.
- Eat light during iftaar.
- After Iftar, instead of eating everything at once, eat after every hour.
- Take your pregnancy medicines or multivitamins in suhoor and iftaar.
Alternatives to Fasting in Ramzan:-
These alternatives apply only to people who cannot fast during Ramzan, have long-term illnesses, are pregnant women with complications, are elderly people with diseases, and people who cannot make up for the missed fast after Ramzan. If there are no such complications with you, then you should fast. Breaking the fast in between or just skipping one fast and the other will not help you. You cannot give fidya or kaffarah for this. Even if you give this to poor people, this deed will not be accepted by Allah.
This is the amount of money that you give to the needy and poor people when you are not able to fast in Ramzan. If you missed one fast during the whole month of Ramzan, you should spend at least 5 dollars or 500 rupees to feed one poor person with two meals or two persons with one meal. If you don’t fast for the whole month of Ramzan, you should spend 150 dollars or 12,000 rupees to feed poor and needy people. You can feed one person every day for 30 days continuously, or feed 30 people together on the last day of Ramzan. Fidya applies to only those people who want to fast but are not able to fast due to severe health issues. It’s not compulsory to pay fidya only in the month of Ramzan. You can pay later on till the next Ramzan when you have the required money to feed poor people.
This is very different from fidya. You have o give kaffarah when you break your fast in between intentionally without a valid reason. Or when you miss a fast knowingly or even though you are healthy. So if you break one fast, you should feed 60 poor people. There is also another alternative to this. You can fast continuously for 60 days if you miss or break one fast. You can do this after Ramzan till the next Ramzan. And no need to fast continuously for 60 days. You can fast 10 days a month for 6 months or 5 days a month for 12 months. You can fast whenever you feel healthy. You have the whole year to fast peacefully.
The same applies to all women who get periods in Ramzan. Although periods are a natural occurrence, you should still make up for all the fasts that you missed in Ramzan due to periods. This can be from 3 to 7 days. You can do this after Ramzan till the next Ramzan. I you are not able to make up the missed fasts, you can pay fidya.
My personal Experience:-
During my first pregnancy, I was 7 months pregnant during the month of Ramzan. I had a healthy pregnancy without any complications. In the first trimester, I was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst that was completely cured in the third month of my pregnancy. In the 5th month, I got thyroid but it was at a low level. So I asked my doctor about fasting during pregnancy. She told me that I can fast without any doubt, but I have to take care of my health properly. She advised me to take thyroid tablets and other vitamin tablets in the early morning during suhoor and after maghrib at iftaar time. She also told me that I should drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water in suhoor and iftaar. She also told me to include fiber-rich food in my diet in Ramzan and stay away from oily and fried foods. I was also advised to take proper rest and not overstress myself as this can increase my thirst or I get easily dehydrated. So I followed the same for a few days. But since you are a homemaker, you just cannot sit in one place in your room. You will have household chores ad, other family members to take care of. So after a few days, I took my fast very lightly and started over-straining myself by cooking varieties of food for all my family members for iftaar. I didn’t drink enough water as I felt I was healthy. I felt very very thirsty during my fast that wanted to break it. But continued by making myself busy with work and other things. On the 20th day of Ramzan, I had another gynecologist visit for a general checkup. I had a baby growth scanning. After the reports came, my doctor got very angry with me. She told me not to fast from now onwards as there is very little water left in the baby sac in my stomach. And this dehydration can cause severe effects on my baby. She told me to take complete bed rest and focus more on a liquid diet and fiber-rich foods. And hence I fasted only for 20 days. I still had 10 days left. I made up this 10-day fast after Ramzan after my postpartum recovery. Nearly, After 9 months of Ramzan. I was breastfeeding my baby at that time so it was not easy to fast. So I took on or two days gap in between for each fast. If you want to know more about how I delivered my first baby via c section then pls read this article:- My C-Section Delivery.
During my second pregnancy, Ramzan came after 3 months of delivering my second baby via c-section, This was another experience to fast while breastfeeding and going through postpartum recovery. The sad news is that I was not able to fast that year. I tried to fast by giving 2 to 3 days gap in between but felt very weak, and thirsty, had headaches, vomiting sensations, difficulty in breastfeeding, low milk supply, constipation, stitches pain, etc. So I stopped fasting completely after 15 days of Ramzan.
Pregnant women don’t need to fast though they are healthy. It is up to them if they have the energy to fast for a while month. Because intermittent fasting or fasting just for one or two days can be done quickly but fasting continuously without any gap can create some health issues in pregnant women if they don’t take care of themselves properly during Ramzan. Mainly when Ramzan comes in the summer, they can either pay fidya later or make up for the missed fast after Ramzan when they feel healthy.