Fasting During breastfeeding (5 Healthy Tips To Help You Cope)

People who engage in fasting do so for many reasons; some may be private, and others, religious practices.

Nursing mothers who are into fasting find it challenging to decide if fasting during breastfeeding has any consequences on them or their babies.

For some reason, it is good to be cautious about the quality and quantity of food a nursing mother should eat since it may affect the baby. Fasting during breastfeeding is allowed with conditions.

Fasting During Breastfeeding

Women who include fasting as a part of their lives do so for the health benefits they stand to gain or their religious or cultural beliefs.

However, as a nursing mother, trying to balance staying loyal to your religion and nurturing your baby may make you wonder if it is possible to engage in fasting during breastfeeding.

Many religions permit pregnant and nursing mothers to be exempted from fasting for women who fast as a form of religious practice.

Although the women in question are expected to do so on a much later date, probably after they’re done tending to their young ones.

They’re expected to give alms in some cases, which makes up for the fasting they missed out on.

Is It Safe To Fast During Breastfeeding?

Yes, it is safe to fast during breastfeeding. Fasting for a short period or a few hours of the day affects the hormones responsible for milk production.

While you’re fasting, your body can still produce enough milk and the same quantity to satisfy your baby.

However, this can only go on for so long. Fasting for extended periods will affect both the mother and child in the long run.

Below are some of the consequences of prolonged fasting during breastfeeding.

  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor growth
  • General body weakness

Dehydration

Dehydration may occur if there’s prolonged fasting, especially if the mother is practicing dry fasting. The water intake is limited while her body constantly gives out the fluid in her breasts.

This will further lead to migraine, broken lips, and in some cases, acne.

In a situation where a nursing mother who is fasting during breastfeeding notices a constant headache and dry lips, there is a chance that she is dehydrated.

The best thing to do is stay hydrated and cut down food intake.

Malnutrition

Certain essential nutrients are present in breast milk, which the baby needs for development. If the mother is not feeding well, these nutrients will be in limited supply for the baby, leading to malnutrition.

Poor growth

The first few months of a baby’s life are the formation stage. During this time, most body development solely depends on the quality of food it consumes.

For instance, a baby’s brain cells require adequate breast milk to develop fully. If the baby isn’t well breastfed, it will impair the growth of the brain cells, leading to slowed growth in the general body.

General body weakness

Since breast milk contains a carbohydrate which is the nutrient that provides the energy required to keep the baby agile, once it is not enough, the baby will become weak.

Read: Eating Pizza While Breastfeeding 

Religious View about Fasting During Breastfeeding

Fasting is highly religious in most cultures, but most religions are very accommodating when it comes to pregnant and breastfeeding women. Here are some religious views about fasting during breastfeeding or pregnancy:

  • Christianity: Christians observe fasting during Lent. You are not required to fast, but you may follow or practice a different type of penance, such as refraining from eating your favorite food during Lent. When it comes to breastfeeding and fasting, Christianity does not have strict rules.
  • Hinduism: When it comes to breastfeeding mothers, fasting is highly flexible in Hinduism. If you are breastfeeding, your family’s elders may ask you not to fast.
  • Islam: Breastfeeding mothers are exempt from fasting. However, it is thought that you may have to make up for missed fasts by fasting later.
  • Judaism: If you are Jewish, you may be required to fast while breastfeeding, though there is some leeway and no hard and fast rules.

Read Also: Breastfeeding During Ramadan (Explained)

Effects of Fasting While Breastfeeding

Fasting during breastfeeding is allowed by many religious clerics.

There are no sure consequences of fasting while breastfeeding for women who can afford to, so long as both mother and child continue to get the adequate nutrition required.

Before you decide to continue fasting during breastfeeding, consult with your doctor. They are the ones to tell you if you’re fit to engage in fasting during breastfeeding and to what extent you should go.

Healthy Tips For Fasting During Breastfeeding

While you can easily engage in fasting, once you become a nursing mother, certain things need to be considered.

Things like your weight, your baby’s weight and size, your feeding habits, and your nutritional intake. This will help to guide you on how best to fast without interrupting your duties as a mother.

For a smooth experience while fasting, below are some healthy tips to make it easier for you and your baby while you are fasting.

1. Maintain a healthy diet 

Asides from fasting during breastfeeding, as a nursing mother, you need all the nutrients you can get to facilitate your baby’s growth and your healing process.

While fasting, eat foods that are rich in protein and heavy carbs. These foods provide the energy required to keep you and your baby going during your fasting.

Avoid foods that can lead to dehydration, like sugary foods. While they provide energy, it is only for a short while before you’re drained again.

Consider taking more fruits and vegetables because they have high nutritional quotients and help improve your blood flow while maintaining milk production.

Substitute fried foods and highly acidic foods for cooked foods. This is because many fried foods may contain a lot of oil and lead to heartburn.

2. Stay hydrated

As a nursing mother, engaging in dry fasting is not a thing anyone would advise you to do because, since you’re cutting down on your food intake, staying hydrated will keep your system running through the day.

3. Avoid tedious activities

You would have to reserve your energy to sustain yourself and your baby. Engaging in activities that involve lifting heavy stuff or moving about, which drains your energy, will make you weak and possibly break down.

4. Rest

Take breaks in between chores to get adequate rest. This is a way to reboot your system. You may decide to read a book or take a nap during the day.

5. Monitor your baby’s health

Keep a close eye on your health and that of your baby. Regular weight checks will help you know if you or your baby are losing weight and how.

When you notice a drastic weight loss, it is best to quit the fasting and resume it after you have weaned your baby.

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Conclusion

Fasting during breastfeeding can be made very easy for women who intend to stay loyal to their religious practices and tend to their babies as expected.

This article has given detailed and straight-to-the-point guides on how best to engage in fasting during breastfeeding.