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Fatima is Fatima

by : Dr. Ali Shari'ati

Back You are here: Home Books Family Principles of Upbringing Children

Principles of Upbringing Children - Welfare of the Embryo (foetus) Depends on the Mothers Nutrition

Article Index



In the womb of the mother the foetus is not an integral part of her body although it gets sustenance from her blood and nutrition. A pregnant mother’s food has to be properly planned and balanced which has to provide nutrition not only for her maintenance but also to the foetus.

Therefore a pregnant woman’s recipe of nutrition has to be meticulously planned. Otherwise there is always a risk that the deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals in the food may prove deleterious to the health of the mother and the child.

In the eyes of Islam the nutrition of the pregnant woman is of prime importance to the extent that she can be exempted from mandatory fasting during the month of Ramadan. She is given the liberty to fulfilll her obligation after delivery of the baby.

Research proves that eighty percent of the genetically deformed children with physical and mental aberrations are because of deficient food given to the mother during her pregnancy. (Aijaz e khurakiah, p.220)

Dr. Jazairi, an eminent nutritionist, writes:

“It is known since long that the development of the foetus and the baby before birth and during feeding on mother’s milk the nutrition received by the mother is very important. The mother has to take care that all the essential proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats and other materials are taken in optimum quantities and at proper intervals for proper growth of the living cell that is the foetus. The foetus, which remains in the stage of metamorphosis in the womb, requires all these essentials for proper and healthy growth. It does happen during pregnancies that the mother remains healthy outwardly but due to deficiency of certain vitamins the foetus shows abnormal growth." (Biography Before Delivery, p. 182)

Karner says:

“Sometimes the reason for a new-born being abnormal is that although the seed is good it doesn’t get a proper environment in the womb. It also is sometimes because although the womb’s environment is good the seed is defective. In these conditions babies are born with several deformities like cleft lips, small and sunken eyes and flat soles of the feet etc. Earlier these defects were thought to be genetic of nature but now the research points out that they are caused by deficient availability of elements like oxygen during the pregnancy. The living environment and the surroundings during the pregnancy of a woman are considered the cause of the congenital defects like paraplegic limbs etc.

Imam Sadiq says in a tradition: “Whatever a pregnant mother eats or drinks, the foetus draws its sustenance from that." (Bihar al-anwar, v 6, p. 342)

The Effects of the Mothers Nutrition on the Foetus

During pregnancy the type of food taken by the mother has a marked effect on the nature, intelligence and capability of the child. This is because the brain of the child responds to the quality of nutrition provided to the foetus by the mother during its growth. Islam has clearly defined that the mother’s food intake during the pregnancy has a definite effect on the character of the child. Here some traditions on the subject are sited:

The Holy Prophet says:

“The mothers must ensure that during the final phase of pregnancy they must eat dates that their children grow to be gentle and sober." (Mustadrak al-wasail, v 3, p. 113)

“Ensure that your expectant wives eat behdana seeds (Seeds of Quince, a Central Asiatic tree of the rose family the fruit of which resembles a hard fleshed yellow apple). Such wives bear children with good health and character.’ (Mustadrak al-wasail, v 3, p. 116)

Imam Reda said:

“When pregnant women eat behdana seed it enhances intelligence and wisdom of the child." (Makarim al akhlaq, v 1, p. 196)

The prophet of Islam said: “The pregnant woman who eats melons will give birth to pretty and polite children." (Mustadrak al-wasail, v 3, p. 635)

The Mothers Nutrition

Research on the different types of food materials is not in the scope of this book nor can we enumerate the qualities of each because it is a subject that requires consideration at length. Nor is the author an expert on the subject of nutrition. Luckily many useful books have been published on the subject and the readers interested in a more detailed study may refer to such books. But it will not be out of place if we have a cursory look on the subject.

Although the nutrition intake requirement of pregnant women increases, it is a matter of worry that their appetite generally reduces in this condition. Many of them feel listless and dull. In such a state they need to plan to consume concentrates which are foods with lesser bulk and more nutritive value. The nutrients required by the human body are contained in different types of food materials. Therefore keeping variety in the ration of a pregnant woman gives scope for designing ideal feeding programme for her.

The experts in this field write:

“To keep the body fit not only food intake is necessary but also it should be a planned mix of food materials taken at planned intervals.” (Ilm o zindagi, p 462)

The mother should ensure that she takes supplemental vitamins and minerals with the morning and evening meals that will help the foetus in the seventh month. This will not only help in the proper growth of the teeth and the gums but also some other important bones of the body. (Biography Pesh uz tawallud, p. 80)

Dr. Giasuddin Jazairi writes:

“Consumption of yoghurt and cheese during pregnancy provides vitamins and fats to the woman and prevents her from consuming many other unnecessary things which she might otherwise be inclined to eat. She should however avoid taking sour yoghurt. Stale cheese may also not taste well. At breakfast she should take a glass of milk and a broth of oats. Vitamin B is present plentifully in liver, kidneys, intestines that are useful foods and should form a part of the pregnant woman’s diet. (Aijaz khurakia, p.223)

It is better that the pregnant women should take milk at regular intervals. This is a complete food and the Prophets in the past were very fond of this food.

Imam Jafer al Sadiq says:

“Milk is the food of the Prophets." (Bihar al-anwar, no vol/page)

Dr. Giasuddin Jazairi writes:

“Most women feel pain in the limbs and the back due to deficiency of calcium during pregnancy. They also find their nails breaking during this period. They are therefore advised to consume fruits and vegetables that are rich in calcium. They have also to be particular to regularly take soup made from bones of sheep and lemon juice. " (Aijaz khurakia)

Generally for people and in particular for the pregnant women the raw and cooked vegetables and fruits are considered good food. The plants derive the nutrients from the soil, water, air and sunlight and store the food for us. All the fruits have good nutritive value but particularly apples, quince, pears, dates are very useful. Likewise every vegetable has its own nutritive value.

Different vitamins and minerals are provided to the body by different food grains, fruits and vegetables. A person who wants to take good care of his nutrition should take a mix of fruits and vegetables and try to eat all the seasons fruits, even if occasionally. Particularly, the pregnant women should make a careful mix of different food materials in their diet. Islam exhorts its people and the pregnant womenfolk to eat fruits and vegetables. A few quotations are given here to prove our point:

Imam Sadiq says:

‘“Everything adorns some place or other and similarly the vegetables adorn the dining area." (Mustadrak al-wasail, v 3, p. 148)

One day when Imam Rida sat for his meal he found the vegetable salad missing from the fare. He told to his servant, “You know that I don’t eat food without the salads. Please bring the salads for me.” vWhen the salads were brought the Imam commenced his meal.

The Holy Prophet is on record saying,

“Eat quince because it enhances your intelligence, removes worries and makes the child gentle." (Makarim al akhlaq, v 1, p. 196)

The Prophet also said:

“Eat quinces and present it’s good fruits to your friends because it improves the eyesight and makes the hearts mellow. The pregnant women too draw lots of benefit from this fruit and their new born children are pretty and healthy." (Makarim al akhlaq, v 2, p. 116)

“During the last months of pregnancy the women should eat the dates that their children have forbearing natures." (Makarim al akhlaq, v 3, p. 113)

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“Eat the dates that they are the cure of all pains." (Makarim al akhlaq, v 3, p. 112)

There are innumerable traditions of the Prophet and his Infallible Descendants that throw light on the high nutritive value of different fruits and vegetables. Nutritionists can devise ideal diet schedule including appropriate quantities of these fruits and vegetables for various requirements. Consulting a nutritionist or a specialist medical practitionerWill be very useful.

Consuming Tobacco

Pregnant women are advised to abstain from cigarettes and any other type of tobacco based product. Consuming of tobacco is not only deleterious to their personal health but will also have harmful effect on their foetus. In this connection we quote from a paper published in a foreign journal. We invite your attention to what it has to say:

“One study made in the Scandinavian countries on 6363 pregnant women showed that those of the group who smoke have given birth to babies on an average weighing 170 grams less than the babies of the women who do not smoke. This weight difference was recorded in 50% of pregnant women who habitually smoked.

On the other hand the height of the babies of the smoker mothers was recorded to be less than the other group. Similarly the heads and the bladders of the babies of smoker mothers were found to be smaller than those of non-smoker mothers are. The infantile mortality of the babies of the smoker mothers has also been recorded to be six times more than those from the other group. The children of the smoker mothers are likely to be born with physical defects than those of non-smoker mothers.

The use of cigarettes causes deficiency of oxygen in the blood of the foetus thereby causing excessive production of haemoglobin. Congenital heart disease is 50% more prevalent in babiesborn to cigarette smoking mothers than others. Statistics prove that children of mothers who smoke are poorer at their studies when they go to school than those of the other group. The intensity of this condition depends on the quantum of smoking the mother did during her pregnancy because the tobacco causes reduction in the cells of the brain of the foetus.

What has been said above is only a part of the damage that can be caused to the baby of the mother who consumes tobacco. Perhaps there are more serious damages caused by cigarette smoking that have not been identified so far. Therefore, all those mothers who are concerned about their own and their children’s health should avoid smoking." (Maktab Islam, Year 15, Issue No. 6)

Dr Jazairi writes:

“Tobacco smoking is harmful for the mother and also for the baby growing in her foetus. Alcoholic beverages too are very dangerous for carrying mothers. In addition to the poisonous effect of the alcohol it destroys the vitamins which are the essential requirement of the mother and her foetus. Such women have the risk of giving birth to babies with disabilities. Smoking and consumption of strongly brewed tea too are very harmful for pregnant women. " (Aijaz khurakia, p.215)

Dr Jalali writes

“Alcohol, marijuana and other drugs get into the blood stream of the parents and move into the embryo thereby affecting the growth of the foetus adversely. Some experts are of the opinion that when pregnant women smoke cigarette, the heart of the foetus is affected and its beats increase abnormally.(Rushinasi Kudak, p. 222)