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Pregnancy during Ramadan: Fast or free pass?

It is that beautiful time of the year again; when Muslims are ready to fast during the month of Ramadan.

The exceptions to performing this act is clear and can be obtained from religious teachers or leaders.
However, the case of the pregnant women always falls into a grey area, leading one to ask: to fast or not to fast?
Whatever the decision may be, I trust that you have your unborn child and your own best interest at heart. However, before taking the plunge, consider all this:
- Have you spoken to your doctor about your condition and whether it is safe for you to embark on your fasting journey?
- Have your health providers identified you as having any risky conditions?
- What is the current weather condition like: scorching hot or fairly warm?
- Do you have to take medications for any condition during the day?
- Do you have diabetes, which may require the use of insulin?
- Was your past pregnancy problematic?
- Any history of preterm delivery (early labour before reaching the expected date)?
- Is the nature of your daily activity (job, home) strenuous?
If any of the questions above seem to somehow be related to you, it is best that you see a doctor to get yourself assessed for suitability to fast. Your doctor may advice against fasting, purely of medical reasons concerning your unborn child’s or your own health.
On the other hand, you are more likely to be well and healthy enough to join others in fasting. After all, pregnancy is not a disease or a disability. It is just a temporary condition of needing the extra care and attention to ensure a safe outcome for both mother and child.
In order to successfully observe the act of fasting during pregnancy, the mother’s general wellbeing must be at its best. The following tips are beneficial to ensure safe fasting:
- Eat a balanced, nutritious meal for 'sahur' or the early morning meal.
- Never skip the morning meal.
- Load up on water but try to stay away from drinks with caffeine such as coffee or tea.
- Take everything in moderation, which includes salt and sugar intake.
- Get adequate rest and try to avoid any strenuous activities.
- Stay cool during the day and that includes staying indoors.
- During 'buka puasa' or the breaking of fast, try to eat slowly. The intestines have been resting during the day, and it would be good not to ‘shock’ them into a feeding frenzy.
- During the non-fasting period ie. evenings, take frequent healthy snacks to ensure you have your daily dose of nutrients.
- Always choose or buy food from clean vendors.
Despite having been given the green light, always be on the watch for these symptoms:
- Reduced or lack of movement of your unborn child
- Contractions of your abdomen
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Fever
- Pain of the lower back
- Pain on passing urine
- Headache
- Weakness
- Extreme thirst or hunger
Should you experience any of these symptoms, head on to see your doctor, as it may be a warning flag for an underlying condition.
The emphasis here is that pregnancy should not be a deterrent to fasting. However, always be on the look out for any signals from your body that may warrant medical attention. If in doubt, talk to your healthcare provider.
On a final note, all the best in your journey and have a safe pregnancy.

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