Friday, July 20, 2012

Breastfeeding During Ramadhan (Fasting)

This post has been specially added to help Muslim women address their dilemma’s regarding Breast feeding during the Holy month.

A pregnant or lactating women's needs for energy and nutrients are more critical than the similar needs of men. There is also a possibility of health complications to the pregnant woman and the fetus or the lactating mother and the breastfed child, if these energy and nutrient requirements are not met.

Islam is a very pious religion . The Prophet (PBUH) has taken all efforts to explain and address essential practical issues in life and at the same time help to deal with them.  Hence, take it with Tawakkul and Inshalllah, everything should be fine.  
May the Holy month bring happiness to you and your family.

1. Scientific Facts on Breastfeeding

- Research tells us that short-term fasting (not eating) will not decrease milk supply, but that severe dehydration can decrease milk supply.

- There have been a few studies on short-term fasting and breastfeeding. Prentice et. al. studied women in West Africa who were fasting for Ramadan (no food or fluids between 5:00 am and 7:30 pm) and found that milk volume was not affected but milk composition did change to a certain extent. The researchers noted that the women appeared to super-hydrate themselves overnight when fluids were allowed to lessen daytime dehydration. The breastfeeding woman's body appears to make several metabolic adaptations during short-term fasting to ensure that milk production is not affected.

- So bare in mind, your baby will not be harmed, because you will be able to keep up milk production while you are fasting. Cutting your intake of calories should make no difference to the amount of milk you produce.

- This is because your body adapts by changing the way it uses the available calories, and makes up for a lack of food or fluid by becoming better at releasing energy.

- In fact, women can eat nothing for 24 hours, and it will still not affect either the quantity or the nutritional value of their breastmilk.

- Keep in mind that for mothers who have sugar metabolism problems (diabetes or hypoglycemia) or other health problems, fasting could be risky (for mom).

2. Breast feeding -  Fasting Exemptions

- Muslim women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be exempt from fasting if they feel that their health or the baby's health would be negatively affected by the fasting. The mother may be expected to compensate for the missed fasting at a later time or pay some expiation for not fasting. Since health issues are unique for each woman's circumstances, do consult both your doctor and your religious advisor if you feel that you might have health issues that preclude fasting.

- Pregnant and breastfeeding women have special permission not to fast during Ramadan if they feel that they or their babies will be harmed by it, but they are not prohibited from fasting if they feel they can definitely handle it.

- Health should be the prime consideration in deciding whether or not to fast. Take the fast one day at a time: it is not a competition with others but an act of worship.

3. Dietary recommendations

- The body has regulatory mechanisms that activate during fasting. There is efficient utilization of body fat. Basal metabolism slows down during Ramadan fasting. Hence, there is no need to consume excess food at iftar, dinner or sehri.

- During Ramadan increased gastric acidity is often noticed, exhibiting itself with symptoms such as a burning feeling and heaviness in the stomach, and sour mouth. Thus, dietary fiber helps reduce gastric acidity and excess bile acids, prevents constipation.  Consume sufficient vegetables at meals. Vegetables are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, carotene, lycopenes, and other phytochemicals, which are antioxidants.

- Choose foods with low glycemic index (GI). The GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion have high GI; carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI. Low GI foods include many types of vegetables and beans, chickpeas, noodles and rice.

- Meat and beans are a good source of protein, minerals, and certain vitamins. Beans are a good source of dietary fiber, as well.  Whole wheat bread, oat cereal or cooked rice are a good source of complex carbohydrates, and also are a good source of energy, some protein, minerals and dietary fiber.

- Fruits are a good source of dietary fiber.  Intake of fruits after a meal is also strongly suggested.

- Drink sufficient water (not soft-drinks) to avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of fluid during sahur but remember the body will remove water straight away if you drink large volume at once, drink only 1-2 glass at once after 20-30 min drink again till meet your need.

- Fresh fruits and vegetable juice and soup help maintain water and mineral balance in the body.

- Milk and dairy products are good sources of protein and calcium, which are essential for body tissue maintenance and several physiological functions.

- The body's immediate need at the time of iftar is to get instant energy for body functioning, particularly the brain and nerve cells. Dates and juices are good sources of sugars. 3-4 dates should be sufficient to bring low blood glucose levels to normal levels.

- Avoid spicy foods.

- Avoid caffeine drinks such as coke, coffee or tea. Besides being a diuretic, a sudden decrease in caffeine also can prompt headache, mood swings and irritability.

4- Ask for help if:

- If you begin to feel unwell, or are becoming dehydrated, talk to your doctor.

- If you re worried that your baby is not getting enough to eat, get advice from your doctor or paediatrician. Signs that your baby is not getting enough milk include:fewer wet nappies (a newborn should have several heavy, wet nappies a day);greenish poo;lasting, shrill crying or inability to settle;weight loss or not putting on weight.

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