“Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is the mothers’ provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity. No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the [father’s] heir is [a duty] like that [of the father]. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Seeing of what you do.” Chapter 2, Verse 233
It’s a personal choice for a woman to decide whether or not to fast during the month of Ramadan while she is pregnant or breastfeeding. There are many factors to be considered: your health, your baby’s health, the Islamic rulings.
In my first pregnancy, I refrained from fasting but the following Ramadan I fasted while breastfeeding my 8 month old. With my second pregnancy, I fasted every other day and when Ramadan came around again he was 7 months old and so I fasted every other day as well. There were days when I had the intention to fast but just couldn’t as I had noticed a drop in my milk supply.
This Ramadan, my toddler will be 19 months and I’m still breastfeeding. I plan on fasting everyday (insha Allah) and so I thought it would be helpful if I share some of the tips I’ve gained along the way. As always, pay attention to your bodies and do what feels right for you.
Tip #1: Staying hydrated
It’s important that our bodies are well hydrated at Suhur and Iftar. We need to replace the electrolytes that were lost during the fasting hours. This is especially important for breastfeeding moms. I’ve personally found that coconut water, watermelon and Gatorade are excellent at replenishing my body as well as boosting my milk supply. This is in addition to drinking water at Suhur, Iftar and during the night.
Tip #2: Eating foods that increase milk supply
Upping our intake of foods known as galactagogues (substances that increase milk supply) greatly benefits both mom and baby. Galactagogues include supplements such as fenugreek, fennel, alfalfa and blessed thistle and foods such as nuts, oatmeal, semolina (Sooji, Cream of Wheat) and chia seeds. I personally love having oatmeal and sooji as part of my Suhur meal. They’re very filling, especially when topped with nuts and dried fruits (dates are a favourite!).
Tip #3: Rest
I know it’s hard to relax when you have little ones around (with a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old it’s nearly impossible!). But it’s essential for our bodies that we give it time to heal and rest. I’ve joined the boys in their afternoon nap and it’s made a big difference in my energy levels in the evenings. Before starting this, I would usually make dinner, tidy up, check my social media etc. when they were napping. Now, dinner gets made when we get up from our nap. It’s a bit tougher with 4 extra little hands wanting to join in but I try to keep them occupied with toys, activities such as colouring and busy bins and as a last resort, the TV.
Tip #4: Alternate fasting days
Fasting every other day enabled my body to replenish itself on the days when I wasn’t fasting. This ensured that my milk supply was constant and there were no sudden drops. I was also able to focus more on my Ibaadah (worship) on my non-fasting days as I had more energy to dedicate to extra prayers and to reading the Quran. In doing these other acts of worship I did not feel as guilty for not fasting.
If you have any other tips, please do share! 😊