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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How to Ensure Your Baby Is Gaining A Healthy Weight After Birth

After the birth of a baby the parent’s concern then shifts to making sure the baby is gaining weight and growing both physically and intellectually like the baby is supposed to. Growth is a good indicator of general health, and babies who are growing well are generally healthy, while poor growth can be a sign of a problem.

Doctors will keep track of weight, length, and head size. According to Kidshealth, a new born baby born at 37 and 40 weeks usually weighs 2.5kg-4kg.The length of the pregnancy is important. Babies born around their due date or later tend to be larger than those born earlier. Other factors that can affect a baby’s weight include:

  • Premature babies generally are smaller and lighter than other newborns. A preemie’s weight will be largely determined by how early he or she was born.
  • Genetics
  • Multiple births,
  • First babies are sometimes smaller than brothers or sisters born later.
  • Girls tend to be smaller, boys larger, but the differences are slight at birth.
  • Mother’s health during pregnancy
  • Nutrition during pregnancy
  • Medical problems and certain infections acquired during the pregnancy, can affect a child’s birth weight and later growth.

Valerie Marchand, is a Pediatric Gastroenterologist and chair of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s Nutrition and Gastroenterology Committee. She was part of a group that recommended the use of new growth charts developed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Growth charts examine length and weight in boys and girls, from birth to thirty-six months.  In the first few days after birth, babies normally lose weight, then get back to their birth weight by about 10 days. Marchand suggests that parents should be aware that a baby’s birth weight depends more on the mother’s diet and health during pregnancy. While slow-gaining babies tend to get the most attention, there are new concerns about babies who gain quickly. “You need to look at height as well as weight,” says Marchand.

Paediatrician and breastfeeding expert Jack Newman said, “the first step is often to improve the way the baby latches on to the breast”. “When the baby is not drinking much, using compression can help,” he adds. To determine how your baby’s measurements compare with those of other babies born after the same length of pregnancy, your paediatrician will refer to a growth chart. Always refer to your baby’s pediatrician and listen to them concerning how to maintain a healthy weight for your baby.

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