Muslims traditionally fast during Ramadan, whilst Christians may fast for Lent. For pregnant women and breastfeeding mums however, it is important to know whether your health – and the health of your baby – is at stake. Is it safe to fast whilst pregnant? What about when you’re breastfeeding? Can you fast during pregnancy?
Fasting during pregnancy is a very delicate balance. There are studies that have shown that refraining from food consumption for any prolonged period length of time when you’re expecting can cause the production of ketone bodies, molecules that our livers produce during periods of low food intake that may have a negative impact on the fetus.
Having said that, no two pregnancies are exactly alike and so the most important thing to do here is to consult your doctor before considering whether or not it’s safe for you and your baby-to-be if you fast. It may depend on many factors such as the trimester you are in or any underlying medical conditions you and your baby might have. (Read Can Women with Gestational Diabetes Fast?)
Regardless of what you and your doctor decide, staying hydrated is vital. Water plays an essential role in the development so at no point should you stop drinking water. Dehydration has been known to lead to low amniotic fluid, preterm labour and congenital disabilities. If you and your doctor agree that fasting is safe for a short period of time, make sure you drink a minimum of two litres of water a day and avoid any overly strenuous activity that may cause a loss of fluids. (Read Stay Happy and Healthy This Ramadan).
This is especially relevant in the UAE where the temperatures are slowly creeping up towards 30+ Celsius.
Now with regards to fasting when breastfeeding, experts speak in unison that fasting for one day does not impact milk production or impair the health of either mother or baby – but do ensure that your keep your nutrients and hydration up during sundown and sunrise and above all consult your doctor.