- People fast for some hour to some days on religious beliefs
- Usually, pregnant women are excused from fasting
- But some choose to fast, but it is important to take care of their diet
- Fasting deprive nutrient supply to the baby
- It can be dealt with a special care on diet, fluid intake, and rest
When you carry a baby inside, it is your body that supplies the oxygen and nutrients. So, your blood vitamin level, nutrient supply, and organ functions should be maintained properly for a healthy baby. In contrary to this, there can be situations of fasting that may occur during the pregnancy, especially for Muslim women.
Though pregnant women can abstain from fasting and compensate it in the coming years, some choose to fast. In practical, when you fast you are cutting down the nutrient supply to the baby. The sunrise to sunset fasting as a part of religious belief. As the fasting woman will have food after the sunset and before the sunrise, it can be shared for the baby, and many believe that there is nothing wrong about it.
The changes during pregnancy when fasting should have been brought out, but studies on the issue are a few. Recent studies found no significant health problems in fasting and non-fasting pregnant women. But the risks of low birth weight baby and preterm birth are found to be higher in fasting cases. The chance for a low birth weight baby is higher when the fasting is done in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Studies also indicate that the Apgar score (evaluation of various factors like heart rate of the baby just after the childbirth) of the babies of fasting and non-fasting pregnant women were found to be same. Some researchers also suggest that fasting during Ramadan may lead to premature delivery. But it is also dependent on other factors like place of living, and existing health conditions of the mother.
For a normal pregnancy, fasting can be done to an extent, but it should first be consulted with your doctor. If you have an existing medical condition like high blood pressure or diabetes, you may be restricted from fasting as it invites unwanted risks. Complications such as gestational diabetes and placental problems during pregnancy can also restrict you from taking up the fasting.
Preparing for Fasting:
If you are going on with the decision to fast, talk to your midwife or doctor. Have pre-fasting health check-up and analyze the health condition. Monitor the weight of the mother and the baby before you start the fasting.
Get help from a nutritionist to prepare a diet routine during fasting. It will be helpful to know what all should be included in your diet during fasting and how to stay hydrated for a longer time. Cut down the caffeinated drink as it increases dehydration, especially during fasting.
Another major concern is the season. If fasting and summer come together, it is a double risk. Amidst the high temperature, your health condition becomes worst. So take utmost care and think twice.
Coping up with the fasting:
Once you start fasting, prepare the food early and avoid staying being hungry. You may experience a little difficulty on the first day of fasting, but it may soon get used to, and the stomach will adjust accordingly.
You can also talk to other women who took up fasting during pregnancy and get some tips to deal with the situation. Get moral support from religious leaders and family to go on with fasting. While fasting, avoid walking a long distance or lifting heavy objects. Reduce stress by indulging in activities that make you feel better.
Danger Signals While Fasting:
You can first try fasting for a day and see whether you are capable of continuing it.
Check for the following signs, if anything goes wrong:
- If you are not putting on required weight
- Feeling too thirsty and less urination. Urine may become dark colored with bad smell. It is a sign of dehydration and you should consult a doctor immediately.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in fetal movements
- Feeling dizzy or faints
- Signs of premature labor like uterine contractions
To fast or not to fast is always a personal choice. If you choose to fast, take special care of your diet and how you spent the energy. If you choose not to fast, find other ways to which you can be a part of the whole belief system and compensate it as per religious beliefs.