Pregnant women are exempt by Islamic law from fasting during Ramadan and, if pregnant, you should not overlook the exemption if you do not feel ready or able to fast. Your health and the health of your child may be at risk if you fast due to misguided guilt or pressure.
But, if you are healthy and have been advised by your doctor that you are in good shape to fast, there are ways to make it easier on yourself and your child.
Here are six tips to help you prepare and cope with fasting.
Have more check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups before fasting and during your fasting period: the doctor or midwife may monitor your blood sugar level, advise on your dietary needs or keep an eye out for early complications of your pregnancy.
Rest regularly: Plan your day as best you can and get plenty of rest. Take things easy and accept any help that may be offered to you. Sit back, relax and avoid stressful situations; put your feet up and try to remain composed.
Hold back on caffeinated drinks: A week or more before Ramadan, gradually reduce your consumption of caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee and soft drinks. This way you avert withdrawal headaches.
Time off work: Ask your employer if you can take some time off work or work fewer hours during Ramadan, perhaps offering to put in the hours at a later date.
Warning signs: It is crucial that you pay particular attention to your baby's movements. Before Ramadan, make a note of them so you can compare them while you are fasting. If you notice any difference, no matter how slight, such as your baby not kicking or moving as much, you should immediately inform your doctor or midwife. Also be aware of any contraction-like pains which could be an indication of premature labour - again, get in touch straight away with your doctor or midwife.
- Best way to break the fast: Make sure you have lots of healthy food and drinks at Iftar and at Suhoor. Eat whole grains and high fibre foods, such as vegetables and dried fruits, and include beans and eggs, chickpeas and potatoes. Steer clear of sugary and high-fat foods. Drink ample fluids - at least two litres of water between Iftar and Suhoor.
He goes on to say that it is “recommended that she does not fast during the last few months of pregnancy because the foetus requires a lot of nutrition at that time. It is also recommended that she does not fast in early pregnancy if she develops nausea and vomiting. A nursing mother should not fast since she risks her health and the health of her baby.”
Yet should you make the decision to fast, after consulting with your doctor and midwife, try it out for a couple of days and see how you feel. Go back for another consultation and check-up and decide, after seeking continued professional advice, if you want to carry on for another few days or so. Remember: Always be on the look-out for warning signs such as the baby moving or contraction-like pains.