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I'm newly pregnant and feel very sick. Should I fast?

Islamic law says that you should fast if you feel strong and healthy enough. But if you are pregnant and feel unwell, you have clear permission to be excused from fasting.

Don't ignore this special permission if you fear that fasting could cause harm to you or your baby. Conditions in pregnancy that excuse you from fasting include:

* vomiting, whether morning sickness or severe vomiting
* high blood pressure
* diabetes

You are also not expected to fast if you are expecting twins or more.

In the early stages of pregnancy you are likely to experience:

* nausea and vomiting
* tiredness
* constipation
* headaches
* light-headedness

These symptoms may become worse if you aren't eating or drinking for long periods of time.

Changes in your routine, lack of food and water, and eating and drinking at different times can all cause stress. Pregnant women who fast have higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in their blood than women who are not fasting. You're also more likely to be feeling all the natural worries of a newly pregnant woman.

These things combined could potentially put a strain on your health and your baby's health, too.

Whether or not you decide to fast, you may experience dizziness, blurred vision and cramping in your pregnancy. If these or other symptoms concern you, speak to your doctor or midwife immediately, and if you are fasting, you should stop.

Try talking to a trusted spiritual leader or a close family member about whether fasting is right for you. And read more about pregnancy symptoms you should never ignore.

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