The state of health and the course of pregnancy determine whether you can fast in Ramadan or not. The Qur’an allows any pregnant woman not to fast during Ramadan and to resume fasting later after childbirth.
This permission is especially true when fasting exposes the baby or mother to danger. Although the decision to fast is personal, it is always a good idea to discuss it with your doctor or midwife.
If a pregnant woman decides to fast during the month of Ramadan, she must ensure her needs are met and monitor for the warning signs and symptoms of any complication.
Contraindications to fasting during pregnancy
The effects of fasting on pregnancy are not yet well documented. Science has not shown a link between fasting in Ramadan and the risk of complications in the baby or mother (premature or low birth weight baby) if the pregnant woman is healthy and the pregnancy is going well. Since every pregnancy is unique, recommendations must therefore be individually tailored. This decision must therefore be made after consultation with the doctor or midwife.
The Montreal Diet Dispensary respects every woman’s decision to fast or not. However, fasting during Ramadan is discouraged if any of the following situations occur:
- growth retardation or risk of having a low birth weight baby;
- maternal weight loss or insufficient weight gain;
- diabetes (regardless of type);
- twin or multiple pregnancy;
- gestational hypertension and preeclampsia;
- premature contractions;
- risk of premature birth;
- Persistent symptoms: nausea, vomiting, headache or extreme tiredness.
- A few factors to consider
- Pregnant women without contraindications, deciding to fast, should consider the following factors:
- The period of Ramadan, variable from one year to another
If Ramadan falls in the summer, the fasting period is longer and the heat increases the risk of dehydration. It is therefore necessary to watch for signs of dehydration and to minimize physical activity during the hot hours of the day.
Fasting during the first trimester can make nausea and vomiting worse. The third trimester is a period of intense growth for the baby that requires a lot of energy. In fact, the unborn child gains almost two-thirds of its total weight during this time. Fasting could affect the baby’s growth if the mother does not have a varied and balanced diet.
- State of health before pregnancy
A chronic illness (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, etc.), malnutrition (e.g. anemia before pregnancy) or another health problem can call into question the decision to fast.
Pregnant women who wish to fast during Ramadan may benefit from the supervision of a dietitian. In some cases, alternative fasting (a day of fasting followed by a day or two of non-fasting) may be an option.