Assalamualaikum, everyone! I can’t believe Ramadan is just around the corner. Time flies by so fast. I remember fasting and breastfeeding during Ramadan last year. It was very very challenging. I was still in the midst of writing my dissertation and I was still fully breastfeeding Aisha.
I missed two days of fasting, I think it was most probably because I had diarrohea (cirit-birit) and on another day, I couldn’t take it. To be honest, I was always weak toward the end of the day but Alhamdulillah it was doable. I know the idea of fasting and breastfeeding may make people nervous, so I’d like to share how you can manage fasting and breastfeeding during Ramadan. Before we started fasting, my sister had called Puan Kamariah to ask her what is the best way to breastfeed and fast during Ramadan.
This is what we both tried doing last year:
#1 DON’T MISS SAHUR
I needed to write this in caps lock to emphasize how important sahur is especially for breastfeeding women. You need your energy so use this time to eat right, and get as much energy as you can.
#2 Lessen the salt
Too much salt isn’t good for you for several reasons. Apart from the long term side effects like heart disease and high blood pressure, consuming too much salt especially during Ramadan can make you thirsty so try avoid putting too much salt. But don’t forget, there’s also a lot of salt (the other name for salt is sodium) is hidden in other types of foods like processed foods, condiments and sugared water. So please please try to avoid all the jajan, kicap (soy sauce) and air gula during this time. Your body needs as much water as it can to last through the day.
#3 Drink more water through out the night
Since during the day you might not be able to drink water, you should drink at least 8 glass of water through out the night to keep you hydrated. This might sound easy but once you break your fast, you will feel full very quickly so sometimes you might forget to drink enough water.
Try to drink more mineral water than sugared water to keep you hydrated and to prevent yourself from getting diabetes during your pregnancy. This happened to me on several occasions when I was pregnant with Aisha. So what I did was, I made sure I tried to break my fast with either milo or iced tea. And then I drank plain water the rest of the night. If you think you’re going to forget to do this, maybe you could bring a bottle of water and put it on your bedside table in case you want to drink at night.
#4 Cut out the caffeine EatThis
This is probably one of the most important tips. Drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks is not advisable for pregnant during normal days so obviously drinking caffeinated drinks during Ramadan should be avoided, especially those 3-in-1s. Well, it really depends on you, I guess. But every time I fast during Ramadan, I don’t drink coffee at all.
I know, that’s pretty amazing right? Coffee makes me thirsty and hungry. I do like drinking coffee but I don’t like to drink coffee after Maghrib because it disrupts my sleep. Drinking it at sahur time might drive your thirst and make you dehydrated.
#5 Don’t drink more than three glasses of water right before Fajr
This tip might sound like a surprise to you, right? Well, it did to me. My sister had called Puan Kamariah who is a lactation specialist to ask her what is the best way to fast and breastfeed during Ramadan. Her explanation is that, when you drink too much water in a short period of time (like an hour, when you wake up for sahur), your body will flush out the water very quickly. Interesting, right? So the next time you feel like gulping down gallons of water at sahur, think again.
#6 Eat a lot of kurma or dates
Kurma or dates may seem like it’s small and might make you think that it doesn’t have much benefit but in reality, dates or tamar is packed with complex carbohydrates and good energy. Which explains why the Prophet SAW was able to fast with just three dates. There is also some research that suggests that dates help to boost milk production. But whatever food you consume, make sure it’s healthy and you drink a lot of water! Remember, at least 8 glasses through out the whole night.
#7 Increase the intake of complex carbohydrates like brown rice, dates and wholemeal
If you’re Malaysian and love to eat white rice, you might want to switch to brown rice this time. Ramadan can be very challenging especially for women who are fasting and breastfeeding at the same time, so you will need to really ensure that you are eating right during sahur and iftar. Complex carbs slowly releases energy throughout the day and keeps you fuller for a longer time. Not only is brown rice healthier but it is also cheaper! This might be the best time for you to switch to brown rice 🙂
#8 Eat your fruits and vegetables
During Ramadan, people tend to be more wasteful because they tend to buy more food than they need. Don’t we all like to go to the Bazaar Ramadan and buy all the food that we feel like eating, just because we have this sudden urge? But to be honest, we all know that the choices that we make when we are hungry are usually unhealthy. So it’s really important to make sure that you eat your vegetables and fruits when you can. Maybe, instead of buying loads of kuih-muih, you can buy one or two types and also prepare fruits for you to snack on. Always cook your vegetables too and make sure you have a healthy and balanced diet.
# 9 Take supplements like vitamin C During Ramadan, you tend to get tired. It’s always a good idea to take supplements like vitamin C. I always did that. I made sure that I took one soluble vitamin C before I sleep so that I won’t get sick and have enough energy through out Ramadan. For those who are breastfeeding and fasting, you might be more fatigued. So don’t forget to buy these and drink up, okay? 🙂
# 10 Take milk boosters, if you want
I can’t say this for everyone but not everyone notices a difference when they take these “milk boosters”. My sisters don’t believe in this. I consumed these brownies and chocolate chip cookies made by Mom More Milk. It didn’t make any difference in the amount of milk I produced but it made my milk THICKER.
I think because they incorporated a lot of healthy ingredients like dates, oats, flax seed and wheat germ, things that I wouldn’t normally incorporate in my daily diet. But it’s really up to you. They didn’t pay me to say this, this is from my own experience and recommendation. Apart from that, you can also make overnight oats because it’s easy and filling! My sister Murni did this several times last year when she fasted. But she didn’t each just that, she also had other energy-packed food as well.
# 11 Take it easy on outdoor and heavy activities
This might sound like a no-brainer but try to reduce the outdoor and heavy activities. If you’re a stay-at-home mom and you feel the itch to do all the house chores, you might want to take some rest in between. Don’t feel like you need to do everything because this is the special time of the year- you need to save your energy to fast and to do ibadah. So if you think you can’t do all of the house chores, just relax 🙂
#12 Take enough rest and try not to stress
If you are pumping and you don’t get as much milk, try not panic. This happens and it’s totally normal. The more you stress, the less milk you will get. You really need to try not get stressed when your milk supply drops (if it does). As for me, I think Aisha was really affected by me being tired. She was extra cranky during Ramadan maybe because the milk didn’t flow as easily as it normally does. But don’t worry, babies are able to adjust.
Your baby will not be in harm when you fast unless the doctor says so. If you have any questions, you can go see your general practitioner. If you are working and you need to pump, make sure you check whether you have serviced your pump or whether your valves are in good condition. Sometimes these things can affect the pumping and your output. I know because it happened to me! (Read more about it here).
But even if you might seem to have only a little bit of milk when you pump, try not to stress out. Sometimes it may seem that your output isn’t that much because you’re fasting but your body will adjust later (once you break your fast). If you are unsure, ask your lactation specialist <3
#13 Try fasting but don’t force yourself
As a Muslim, many mothers wouldn’t want to miss this month. You should try to fast if you can but don’t force yourself if you
can’t. If you feel dehydrated and dizzy (as though you are going to faint), that’s probably a sign that you can break your fast (although fainting doesn’t make it obligatory for you to break your fast).
There were two days in Ramadan last year that I missed because I just couldn’t take it. Once you are able, you can make up your fast (puasa ganti).
I hope this article is helpful for all mommies out there! I hope you are able to perform your ibadah this Ramadan the best way possible 🙂