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Is Fasting Safe For Pregnant Women?

Now that Ramadhan is around the corner, Muslim mommies are busy preparing themselves to begin fasting in the holy month. For those who don’t know here’s a little bit about the month.

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Ramadhan.

The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is Ramadhan and throughout this month, Muslims all over the world will begin their annual month-long fasting.

It is known as the holy month because Ramadhan is written to be the month which the Quran was revealed to be the divine guidance to the Prophet Muhammad and all believers. Muslims also believe that throughout this month the devil is leashed leaving the world purified of the whispers of sin and with it the blessings of Allah for each deed multiply within this month.

The practice of fasting is to absolved oneself of nafs (the psyche, ego or soul/ of wants and worldly things) but it is also an act of appreciating what we have and humbling oneself by putting ourselves in the shoes of the less fortunate – those living in poverty and famine.

Fasting In General.

The act of fasting is not exclusively done by Muslims. Matter of fact, the deed has been practiced by many cultures all over the world for various reasons for centuries.

Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Taoism, Jainism, and Hinduism all practice fasting in different ways for a variety of reasons.

For example, contrary to Muslim’s fasting, fasting in Hinduism is more of a moral and spiritual act and not an obligation. Some of the fasts observed by Hindus are different in terms of the intake. Most times it is enough for them to abstain from certain types of food and not to go without at all.

There is also intermittent fasting. A diet trend that becomes popular and said to be one of the best ways to lose weight easily. In intermittent fasting, there is no specific food you have to avoid or eat but you have to control when you should have your meal.

As you can see, there are various ways for one to fast, with this, if your plans for fasting is not a religious one, you should be able to find a fasting diet that suits you and your condition best.

But if you have an obligation due to your beliefs like how Muslims are in the month of Ramadhan and you find yourself carrying a little one inside you, here’s some info that you should know.

Fasting While Pregnant.

First and foremost, the question that needs an answer: Can Pregnant Women Fast?

In general, yes, pregnant women can fast. Individually, however, you would need to know your body and your condition.

The best way to do this, is to ask your healthcare provider/doctor.

During your pregnancy check-up, you can ask them about it and if there will be any risks on your baby if you did.

For Muslim mothers, most ulama’ (scholars) agreed that pregnant women are given the leeway during Ramadhan to not fast if fasting can put the pregnancy at risk.

When Should You Not Fast?

Doctors are recommending that mothers who are in the early and later stage of pregnancy should not fast.

1. First 3 Months:

As you should know, the first 3 months of pregnancy is a crucial part of your baby’s development. Within this 3 months, the vital organs and brain are being developed.

However, that is not the reason why doctors are telling you not to fast.

In these first 3 months of pregnancy is where you will face pregnancy symptoms and morning sickness the heaviest. Medical Experts say that a pregnant women who are facing severe vomiting, headaches, or fainting spells should not fast or continue with their fasting.

Otherwise, it should be okay for your to fast like normal.

2. Later Half Of The Second Trimester:

Fasting in the second half of the trimester or later is not recommended.

Some experts also mentions that fasting during week 22 and 27 of pregnancy or later can cause preterm birth.

The reasoning behind this is that in the later parts of pregnancy, your body would require more energy than previous stages because within this period, your child is trying to prepare for delivery by increasing its weight.

Conditions That Should Prompt You To Break Your Fast Or Not Fast.

Diabetic mothers needs to watch their sugar level throughout the day to ensure that the sugar level is okay. If your sugar reading is low or you are experiencing hypoglycemia symptoms, it is best for you to break or stop your fasting.

Pregnant mother that have these conditions are advised not to fast:

1. Uncontrollable high blood pressure
2. Severe anaemia
3. Drastic weight loss
4. High risk for blood clot
5. Stomach Ulsers
6. Gastric

How Long Can A Pregnant Women Fast?

Despite having the greenlight to fast, an expectant mother should never attempt a whole day fasting. By whole day we meant 24 hours or more.

Fasting should be limited to 12 hours. 1 or 2 hours more is okay.

To fast for long hours may cause serious complications to your baby or pregnancy.

The Risks Of Pregnant Fasting.

Fasting during pregnancy has its pros and cons.

The cons are the risk that your pregnancy is placed upon when you decided to fast. You should also know that there are not many high standard research done in this area. So, the link between pregnancy fasting and pregnancy risks cannot be said to be 100% accurate. Nonetheless, it is good information to know the risks that you may experience how ever small the chances may be.

Preterm Delivery

One of it is preterm delivery. Preterm delivery is when your baby is delivered before they completed the 40-week development period. Complications can occur as premature baby are more prone to develop health conditions that will affect them their whole lives.

Low Birth Weight

Some research reports that baby born by mothers who fast have slightly lower weight at birth. There are also other researches that shows that there is no difference between babies born by mothers who fast and not.

Dehydration

Another risk of fasting while pregnant is dehydration. Getting severely dehydrated when you are pregnant can be dangerous for you and your baby. During pregnancy, you would need more water than normal because your baby needs it too. Dehydration can affect the amniotic water level in the womb.

Since Malaysia is a sunny and humid country, you’ll need to keep yourself hydrated at most times.

Benefits of Fasting While Pregnant

One research conducted shows that fasting can help with lowering the chances of the mother developing gestational diabetes.

Expectant mothers can developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Usually it will go away after childbirth but for some it became a permanent condition.

Diabetes can happen when your body is unable to process sugar in the blood efficiently. During pregnancy, you would have to process it for your baby too and this may cause your body to be overload.

Thus, by fasting, you can lower your sugar intake especially when you have a high craving for sweet food or beverage.

Fasting Tips For Pregnant Mommies

If you have decided to fast during pregnancy, here are some things that you have to remember when you are fasting.

1. Constantly Observe Your Baby’s Movement

Your baby’s movements is a sign that your baby is alive and doing well in the womb. If you observe that your baby’s movement has drastically decrease or stop, quickly break your fast and contact your doctor.

2. Don’t Eat Too Much During Breaking Fast

Your stomach is pushed by your growing womb during pregnancy. Eating too much can cause heartburn. The pressure may even cause you to throw up your food back out. So, be sure to keep it moderate even though you feel like you can eat a whole elephant.

3. Do Trial Run

You can try fasting for a day or two instead of doing a full course to see if your body can handle it. Don’t push yourself to fast or continue fasting if you find yourself unable to cope with it. For Muslims, you health and your baby’s life should come first. You can always replace it on other days after Ramadhan.

4. Avoid Heavy Work and Too Much Sun Exposure

This is to lessen the risk of dehydration. A pregnant women may need about 1.5 to 2 litres of water daily.

5. Eat High Protein Diet

Eating a high protein diet during Suhoor can help mommy getting all the necessary energy for her daily activities. Protein is also a good source to have during the later half of your pregnancy because your baby would need a lot of it in order to increase its weight.

6. Try Low Glycaemic Index Foods

Glycaemic Index is a ranking system on how fast a food can be digested and how much glucose it produces. Low Glycaemic Index foods are foods that takes longer time to be processed by your stomach. By taking in Low Glycaemic Index Foods, you are able to receive a constant supply of energy throughout the day.

Reference:
https://hpupm.upm.edu.my/informasi_kesihatan/2019/ibu_hamil_boleh_berpuasa-49973
https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-018-2048-y
https://nutrition.org/fasting-during-the-second-trimester-of-pregnancy-may-be-particularly-harmful/

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