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It’s Ramadan and every pregnant woman is confused whether it’s safe for her and her unborn baby to fast during the holy month. We interviewed gynecologist and infertility consultant, Dr. Eman Ali, to find an answer to this debatable question and to tell us if fasting during pregnancy will affect the health of the mother or the baby.
“Answering such a question is not that simple and the answer depends on the medical history report, the pregnancy trimester and week, and whether or not she suffers from any health conditions,” Ali told us.
The doctor also explained that there are many studies conducted to detect the effect of fasting on the baby during pregnancy. None of them concluded that fasting has a negative effect on the baby’s health, growth, or development. Yet, a pregnant woman shouldn’t decide to fast on her own without getting back to her gynecologist who is aware of her pregnancy and health state. Ali added that the pregnancy week is a major factor in deciding whether to fast or not.
Fasting during the First trimester
“During the first trimester, most ladies suffer from nausea and don’t eat or drink well believing that this makes it a good opportunity for fasting. It’s the exact opposite. Fasting for 16 hours will make nausea worse and in turn will affect the mother and baby’s health,” Ali highlighted.
Fasting during 4th to 8th month
The gynecologist added that this period is the safest for fasting as long as the mother doesn’t suffer from any health problems or experienced a pregnancy problem even in a previous pregnancy.
Fasting during the 9th month
Ali warned that fasting during the 9th month could be harmful as a pregnant woman needs all her body energy to get ready for labor.
Pregnant women who shouldn’t fast
Medical conditions that could put a pregnant woman or baby at risk while fasting:
- High or low Blood pressure
- Immunity diseases
- Previous miscarriages
- Low weight or BMI below 19
- Abnormality in embryo’s growth or development
- A twin or triplet pregnancy
Fasting precautions for pregnant women
A pregnant lady in the recommended trimester who is not suffering from any of the previous conditions can fast but needs to follow these recommendations:
- Exert the least possible effort during fasting. Fasting for a pregnant woman who goes to work or exert some physical effort could endanger her and the baby as well.
- Sleep well for 8-9 hours
- Don’t eat a heavy meal at Iftar at once as the digestive system during pregnancy needs time to work. Break your fast with dates and water. Take a rest for 10-15 minutes, then drink a warm soup before proceeding with the rest of the meal that should be balanced and include a green salad.
- Drink 2-3 litres of water between Iftar and Suhoor to avoid dehydration the following day.
- Quit desserts and artificial sweets because they raise and then drop your insulin level suddenly causing a drop in blood circulation and dizziness.
- Quit any diuretic drinks as tea and coffee as they cause dehydration.
- Eat 2 healthy snacks between Iftar and Suhoor as fruits or nuts.
- Never skip Suhoor. Eat the meal 30-60 minutes before dawn and include proteins as eggs and beans, high potassium foods like bananas, and dairy products like milk and yogurt.
Don’t forget to consult your gynecologist if you suffered from any health problem during fasting.