Religion and spirituality is a deeply personal issue. If there is one thing that can trump motherhood, it is faith. So, it is no wonder that many women are at a loss when it comes to fasting while breastfeeding.
Fasting is an integral part of most major religions in the world. But when you become a mother, your priorities change. So, should you fast as usual while breastfeeding? If that is the question bothering you, let us help you find an answer.
What Does Religion Say About Fasting While Breastfeeding?
Most religions are flexible when it comes to fasting during breastfeeding. Here’s what the major religions have to say about the issue:
- If you are a Muslim and planning to fast during Ramadan, wait. According to Islamic law, a breastfeeding mother does not need to fast. But missed fasts must be compensated for at a later date (1).
- According to Jewish tradition, a breastfeeding woman is required to fast on Yom Kippur. But there is room for flexibility for individual cases (2).
- Hinduism is pretty flexible when it comes to fasting and breastfeeding. Most breastfeeding women are encouraged not to fast and ensure adequate nutrition for the baby.
- Nursing Catholic women are exempt from fasting during Lent (3). Women can offer other sacrifices like giving up eating their favorite food during Lent instead.
[ Read: Advantages Of Breastfeeding ]
What Does Science Say?
There isn’t enough research to show how fasting can affect breastfeeding. But the studies done on the subject show that there is a marked difference in breastfeeding relation during fasting (4). The studies indicate that fasting can lead to premature weaning and an abrupt end to breastfeeding.
But these issues arise only after a prolonged period of fasting (like during Ramadan). But one-day fasting has no impact on breast milk.
[ Read: Honey During Breastfeeding ]
How Does Fasting Impact Breast Milk:
The fat content in breast milk does not change when you fast for a day. But the same cannot be said for longer duration of fasting. We already know that inadequate nutrition does not change the composition of breast milk (5). The same can happen while fasting. But fasting can lead to deficiency in other nutrition in breast milk.
Fasting For Breastfeeding Mothers – Impact:
If fasting leads weight loss, it may be time to rethink your priorities. This is because breast milk will leach fat off your body to compensate for inadequate fat in your diet. This will lead to unhealthy weight loss. If you are looking to lose all that pregnancy weight, fasting is not the answer! It will just leave you malnourished.
Tips To Make Fasting Easier While Breastfeeding:
If you want to breastfeed and fast in tandem, you’ll need to keep a few points in mind:
1. A Good Breastfeeding Diet:
Make sure you are getting a good breastfeeding diet when you do eat. If you are cutting out a few specific food items, like meat, from your diet, compensate with supplements.
2. Drink As Much As You Can:
Breastfeeding can leave you thirsty. So, make sure you are getting enough fluids. This is important especially during summer months to avoid dehydration. If you can’t drink water while fasting, make sure to drink enough of it before and after your fasting period.
[ Read: Drinking Alcohol During Breastfeeding ]
3. Postpone Heavy Chores:
If you can, try to postpone chores that take up a lot of energy for later.
4. Rest As Much As You Can:
Breastfeeding can be taxing. And if you are fasting, it can become doubly hard. So, rest when you can, as much as you can to keep your energy levels high.
5. Keep An Eye On Your Baby:
There is a slim chance that your baby may get less milk while you fast. So keep an eye on her. If you notice fewer wet nappies, greenish poop, weight loss, etc. talk to your doctor.
So, should you fast while breastfeeding? That depends on you. If your child is older and has started solids, fasting will not have a big impact. But if your baby is younger than six months, you can give fasting a break.
[ Read: How to Use Nipple Shield ]
God, whoever you believe him to be, will understand!
What are your views on fasting while breastfeeding? Share with us in the comments section below!
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