Is It Safe To Fast During Ramadan When Pregnant? Part 2

In Part-1 we saw an overview of safety concerns during fasting when pregnant and how it affects the growing baby. Now let’s see how it affects the mother.

Is fasting harmful to you?

This is a very tricky question! You may have a lot of women telling you that they fasted with ease in their 1st, 2nd or 3rd pregnancy, but all pregnancies are different. Statistically, it has been shown that 60 to 75% pregnant women worldwide opt to fast during Ramadan. But it should be known that most Islamic leaders unanimously agree that fasting should be done only if the mother is healthy and there is no perceived threat to the baby!

If you have any complications like gestational diabetes, anemia, or threat to your pregnancy; your doctor may rule out fasting at all cost. We request you to take heed and give importance to your health and your baby’s.

What are the symptoms to look out for when fasting?

If you experience the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or fainting spells
  • Headaches
  • Severe Acidity
  • Nausea or uneasiness of any kind
  • Dark colored urine or decreased amount of urination (indicative of dehydration)
  • Not putting on weight or if you are losing weight
  • If you have any contraction-like pain (indicative of premature labor)
  • Any change in the baby’s movements or lack of sensation of the baby’s movements
  • Unexplained fever that is persistent

If any of the symptoms above are seen, break your fast immediately. Have some glucose, sugar or oral rehydration fluid.

What are the things to take into consideration before and during fasting?

  1. Prepare yourself: On getting an approval to fast by your doctor, see to it that you plan well in advance for the month to come. Speak to other pregnant women on how they handled their pregnancy. Also, monitor the hours of fasting.
  2. Hydrate yourself: Ramadan, especially during summer is hard. Fasting for long hours can leave you dehydrated. Drink a lot of water during Suhur and Iftar. If you feel thirsty excessively, break your fast. Coconut water can also be a good option
  3. Avoid caffeine: When eating or drinking avoid caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, and soda) as they are diuretics and make you pee more.
  4. Plan your diet:  Things to do during Ramadan include
    • Eat food that releases energy throughout the day. This should include complex carbohydrates and hi-fiber food.
    • See to it that you do not miss Suhur/your pre-dawn meal (set an alarm if must).
    • During Iftar/evening meal have a good amount of proteins (eggs, meat), good carbohydrates and minerals and avoid high-fat and refined foods.
    • Avoid having sugary foods, this raises your blood sugar levels quickly and drop suddenly.
    • Have a light midnight snack or snack lightly half an hour or so before you sleep if you feel hungry.
  5. Stress less: Be positive and enjoy the festivities, do not worry and get apprehensive unnecessarily.
  6.  Take care of yourself: Apart from mentally being in a positive state, it is a must that you take care of yourself physically. This includes by:
    • Resting and relaxing whenever your body requires
    • Not wasting your energy on things that don’t require your attention
    • If you are working, try to speak to your boss or higher authority to work from home or reduce your work hours
    • Cut down on household work and get help
    • Do not engage in strenuous work or exercise. Stay moderately active as indicated by your doctor
    • Sleep well during nights and if needed take an afternoon nap or whenever you feel a dip in your energy levels.
  7. Go out less: Especially if it is hot and humid. This will drain you and make you feel dehydrated. Try staying indoors as much as possible.
  8. Personalize your fasting: Some women personalize their fasting and fast on alternate days. Some take their prenatal vitamins with water. Ask for suggestions from friends, family and the elderly.
  9. Keep backup ready: It is best to see that you have some oral rehydration fluid ready, glucose or any backup suggested by your doctor. It would be best to have some companion always around to monitor you, that way if you feel uneasy they will help you break your fast. It would be advisable to have a health facility which is accessible to you if in case anything goes wrong.
  10. Have a food diary: Write down what you eat.
  11. Discuss with your doctor: Now more than ever, keep in touch with your doctor. It goes without saying that all your appointments and instructions should be religiously followed. Also, any time your doctor advises you to stop the fast, please listen.
  12. Practice Fidyah: If for any reason you are unable to fast, you can practice fidyah (an amount of money or food given to the poor by anyone who is unable to fast).

These are a few things to keep in mind when fasting during Ramadan. See to it that you follow a proper diet and know what to eat and what not to during this time. Enjoy the Ramadan festivities!

mm

Aishwarya

Dr. Aishwarya Rajeev has completed her MDS degree and is currently pursuing her PhD. She is an avid reader and loves to teach and write!

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