Fasting during pregnancy has been researched upon, but arriving on a conclusion is difficult. This is because the effects of fasting while you are expecting cannot be ascertained until the birth of the baby, and hence no clear conclusions have been derived yet.
Fasting And Pregnancy
Fasting depends on a woman’s commitment towards religion or depending upon individual beliefs. Shivratri, Teej, Karva Chauth, Ramadan, Lent are some of the festivals in which fasting is quite common and these certainly come at least once during the nine months of your pregnancy. If your pregnancy is going normal, and you do feel strong and upto it, you can choose to fast as per your religion. You need to be more careful if you wish to fast during Ramadan, Lent and Navratri’s since they are for longer period of time. Fasting is also affected by the season it is to be observed in, like fasting during summers could couple up with dehydration. Read on to make sure how to make your experience a good one.
Is Fasting Safe During Pregnancy?
Apparently, the answer to this is not clear yet. There is no surety that fasting is safe for you and your baby, but neither is there a study that says if harms the fetus. Studies conducted on the subject show little or no effect on babies born to mothers who observed fasts during pregnancy. Some other studies suggest some health problems may occur later in life of babies born to mothers who fasted. However, it more or less appears to be harmless if your pregnancy has been going on well and you’re keeping in good health and feel strong enough. Fasting during summer, where the days are long and weather being hot and humid, possibility of dehydration cannot be ruled out. It may also lead to exhaustion, headaches, dizziness, acidity etc.
Fasting During First Trimester Of Pregnancy
Studies have shown that if fasting during the first trimester it could cause the baby to have lower birth weight but the difference would be very small from babies whose mothers did not fast. Some babies may also grow up to be very thin and short but again with a very little difference. Since the first trimester is a delicate one, you must speak to your health consultant before you decide to fast and reach her immediately if you have any troubles while fasting.
Fasting In Later Trimesters Of Pregnancy
Though considered largely safe, it is advised that you do consult your obstetrician before you observe any fast. The third trimester is the time when the baby grows the most, and she needs lots of essential vitamins and minerals to grow properly. Your doctor should check you up for any probable complications, and suggest accordingly. Fasting is not recommended for women who have diabetes and are expecting.
Tips For Safe Fasting During Pregnancy
If you are fasting when pregnant, there are certain things to keep in mind:-
- Caffeine is diuretic which may lead to dehydration so avoid having tea and coffee. Drink lots of water and fresh fruit juices during this time
- Try not to have foods which have high-sugar levels, replace them with fresh fruits
- Certain religions allow particular fasting foods such as fruits, juices and milk, ensure you are drinking water or juices at regular intervals. Coconut water is also a good source of nutrient
- If weather outside is hot and sunny, stay indoors and take rest during the day. Do not do any kind of exercises or strenuous work
- Stay calm and avoid any kind of stress. Pregnant women who fast are found to have their stress levels higher than women who do not fast
- Do not indulge in anything that tires you, avoid walking long distances, don’t hesitate to take help from others
- Look out for suggestions or tips from friends and family who have been fasting while pregnant
- Some festivals like Ramadan you are not allowed to eat or drink from sunrise to sunset, in such cases consult your doctor if you can take such physical stress
Ramadan Fasting During Pregnancy
The Islamic law grants permission to pregnant women not to observe fasts of there is any threat to either the mother and/or the baby’s life. However, you must make up for the missed fasts, or pay the fidyah (which means feeding one poor person for each day not fasted) or donate to a food bank. It is only you who can judge whether you have the energy and feel healthy enough to fast, and your doctor, your family and Islamic Sheikh will help you make the right decision. Having healthy and wholesome Iftar (evening meal)and Suhoor (pre-dawn meal), with abundant carbohydrates, proteins and minerals will help you and your baby with essential nutrients that you both need. Quoted from :http://islamqa.info/en/21589
Breaking The Fast During Pregnancy
The best way to break your fast is to choose healthy foods such as whole grains, pulses, dried fruits, eggs, meat, beans and nuts, foods rich in fibre, fruits and lots of fluids which help towards the growth of your baby.
Fasting is an integral part in any woman’s religious life, so it is natural that you are unhappy to give up on something which is so significant to you.
Warning Signs When Fasting In Pregnancy
If you notice any of the below symptoms consult your doctor immediately:
- If you observe that you are losing weight, do reach your doctor immediately. Weight loss in pregnancy is not a healthy sign.
- Dehydration is again something you should not ignore.
- Indigestion and constipation for days together should also be reported to the doctor.
- Headaches, fever, nausea, dizziness, lethargy etc. would require medical help.
- You must contact the doctor immediately if your notice decrease in the baby’s movement, or experience labor like pains – a sign of premature labor.
Alternatives To Fasting Daily During Pregnancy
Following alternatives can be taken into consideration:
- Rather than fasting daily is it possible just to fast on the first and last day of this period?
- Instead of a daily fast, can it be done on alternate days or even weekly?
- Can you substitute the fast by giving up on other foods such as non-vegetarian, sweets or salt? If not, can you just opt for a fruit fast rather than giving up on drinks and food all day?
- Donating money in charity, offering groceries at religious places, some might also give up on certain things they love doing like shopping or watching movies
Religious communities stress that you can fast only if you are fit and if you are not well you should not fast, do not overlook this. You can judge yourself how strong and healthy you feel during this phase and what is suitable for you and your baby!