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Fasting in Ramadan during pregnancy

Written for BabyCenter Arabia

The holy month of Ramadan can be a difficult time for pregnant women. Fasting between dawn and sunset (maghreb) is obligatory, but mums-to-be still need to get the essential nutrients to help their baby grow healthily and safely.

Is it safe for me to fast?

Many doctors believe that there are some physical benefits of fasting, as it helps to burn unnecessary fats and lose additional calories if moderated. If you are healthy and haven’t had any complications so far, you can continue your daily routine as normal. Just make sure you slow down, allow time to rest, and stay away from stress and anxiety triggers as far as possible. And remember to get the right nutrients and enough calories when you break your fast.

How can I cope if I'm suffering from morning sickness?

If you are in the first three months of pregnancy you may find fasting particularly difficult. This is the time when sickness and nausea are at their worst. Try to rest as much as possible and plan to spread your meals out between dusk and dawn. If fasting makes the sickness much more pronounced, do talk to your doctor.

BabyCenter medical advisor Dr Nafissa El Serafi advises that women who suffer from severe or excessive vomiting through the first three months of pregnancy may begin to lack liquid and some minerals such as sodium. In this case, she recommends that women can be injected with a nutrient – which is fast breaking – until the vomiting stops.

Practical ways to cope

• Break your fast gradually, by eating one small meal slowly, instead of the one big meal at once.

• Make sure you have the Suhur meal, but take it as late as possible.

• Drink plenty of fluids – aim for 8-10 glasses of water each day.

• Eat dates or dried dates to ease constipation.

• Try to eat animal proteins that are easy to digest, such as red meat, chicken, fish and eggs.

• Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables including leafy greens. To avoid catching listeriosis, wash them carefully and remove any soil or dirt.

• Cut back on carbohydrates and fatty foods, and it may be best to avoid certain foods like pickles, spices, coffee, tea, carbonated water, and sweets that abound in Ramadan feasts.

Can I avoid fasting if I've had pregnancy complications?

There are certain conditions that mean you will be forbidden from fasting during Ramadan. These include:

• diabetes
• chronic kidney disease
• malfunction of the liver
• bronchial asthma that requires an atomizer

There are also some pregnancy related conditions that may prevent you from fasting. These include:

• raised blood pressure
• twins
• risk of premature labour
• severe pregnancy sickness

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