Can A Breastfeeding Woman Fast?

Ramadan Kareem to all our Muslim sisters, welcome to the holy month of Ramadan! Motherhood and religion need not be in conflict which is why women are often at a loss when it comes to breastfeeding and fasting. So should a woman fast while breastfeeding? Women who are breastfeeding, ill or travelling have the permission not to fast although they can if they want to.

Although some Islamic scholars say it’s wrong to ignore this act of kindness by fasting when you do not have to. So, if you are breastfeeding and planning to observe the Ramzan fast, wait. According to Islamic law, a breastfeeding mother does not need to fast. But missed fasts must be compensated for at a later date, meaning when you wean your baby you have a fast debt that you have to pay gradually.

If however you decide to fast while breastfeeding, you should be aware of the way it might affect you. Dehydration is one of the problems you might encounter. If you notice any of the following symptoms then you are dehydrated;

  • feel very thirsty
  • pass urine that’s dark-coloured and strong-smelling
  • feel faint, weak or tired
  • develop a headache or other pains

Since you can’t drink water during Ramadan fast until the sun has gone down, drink plenty of water when you break your fast and early in the morning before you resume your fast.

Also eat nutritious foods more than ever before when you break your fast so you can keep your energy level up.

What can I do to prevent any problems?

Preparing for fasting will help you avoid potential problems.

  • Buy everything you’d be needing and do every chore that might require extra energy before your fasting starts.
  • Make sure you eat and drink enough when you break your fast.
  • Stay cool and keep put of the sun so you don’t get dehydrated easily.

If you notice any of the following while breastfeeding and fasting or you feel baby’s not getting ehough breast milk, talk to your doctor. Here are some signs to watch out for;

  • fewer wet nappies (a newborn should have several heavy, wet nappies a day)
  • greenish poo
  • lasting, shrill crying or inability to settle
  • weight loss or not putting on weight

If breastfeeding problems develop, talk to your doctor about these symptoms.

Finally I’d say this, it is an act of unkindness to yourself to go on long fast while breastfeeding, your baby might not be getting enough feeds, you will be dehydrated and going on a prolonged period of fasting(like Ramadan) can lead to an abrupt end to breastfeeding although a one-day fast will have no impact on the breast milk.

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What To Do When You Are Not Ready To Wean

For the first few weeks of birth, when I had my daughter I struggled with breastfeeding, first, my nipples were inverted so my baby could not latch on to it.

Then when I overcame that, I  struggled with lactation, so many times I would put her to breast and it would feel as if there was no milk coming out anymore, then as result of poor latching, I had sores on the nipple which made breastfeeding painful for me. If anyone had told me I would breastfeed my daughter till she was over a year old, I would call such a person a liar.

Fast forward to two months after birth, breastfeeding gradually became a second nature. To the point that I unconsciously associated carrying my baby in my arms with breastfeeding. She too became so used to breastfeeding that whenever I carried her she would reach for the breast. For me, it was an enriching time because I bonded well with my daughter.

Not everyone is eager to wean his or her babies off the breast, so if you are in this category read on. When you continue to breastfeed, it offers you the opportunity to nourish and nurture your baby and perhaps you have returned to work, breastfeeding enables you to reconnect with your baby.

Here are the things you need to think about when you are not ready to wean your baby.

1.The timing of weaning is personal. Don’t let anyone pressure you, the choice of when to wean your baby is yours to decide which is determined by what works best depending on your family dynamics. If you are okay with it, then continue breastfeeding.

2. Continued breastfeeding improves health outcomes and when you continue to breastfeed, your baby’s health gets better as the day goes by. So, babies who are breastfed longer are healthier than those who are breastfed for a short time.

3. Note your reason for wanting to continue breastfeeding and keep at it. Many women feel somewhat when their babies are over a year and they are still breastfeeding them. It is quite saddening that the people mounting this pressure are fellow women who should know better. They call the baby of about a year plus ‘old woman’, ‘old man’ and then ‘remain the breast milk for the others oo’ indirectly shaming the mother for breastfeeding.

4. It has been proven that the length of time a mother breastfeeds is socially driven not health driven. The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding until your baby is two years old. If you really want to keep breastfeeding stick to your plan and wait it out till when you feel it is right for you and your baby to stop.


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