Why I decided to attempt Breastfeeding & Fasting in Ramadan
I first got pregnant in 2013, and I was 7 months pregnant at the time. I had intentionally never missed a day before (unless I was really ill). After a very difficult first day, I decided to stop and did my research and watched some videos by Shaykh Omar Suleiman & Shaykh Waleed Basyouni (scroll down below to watch them) and decided to take a break from fasting. I felt so guilty but I knew it was best for my health at that point. Despite that, I was able to have the best Ramadan ever despite not fasting because I went to Taraweeh & Qiyams every night. To date, I am so grateful because now with kids Ramadan will not be the same, for a while at least. If you know me personally you will know that Taraweeh Prayers are what make my Ramadan.
Long story short, I ended up either breastfeeding a baby under 1 year or being pregnant every Ramadan since 2013 so I didn’t fast except for maybe about 15 days since 2013. This is the sole reason I felt the urge to fast this year and not miss out on any days. Also, my infant is now 7 months, on solids and nursing now approximately every 2 hours or so. So this made the decision easier.
It is important to note, that I am NOT recommending you fast while nursing. That decision is something you should make knowing your history and your milk supply. However, IF you do decide to fast I wanted to summarize what I found from the research I did and all of the different recommendations I found for nursing mothers in Ramadan. It’s always easier if everything you need is in one place right? So you can find recommended ingredients for meals, meal & drink ideas, and also some resources.
This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure at the end of the post.
Nutritious Foods For Suhoor
This is probably the key meal that will help your fast go smoothly. Many people hate eating at this time but having a nutrient dense meal including a milk boosting supplement or vitamin at this time will really help keep you going through the day. Some great Suhoor Meal Ideas are:
- Chocolate Date Smoothie – I added Oats to this to make it more lactation friendly and also added some Maca Powder for Energy with some extra dates. Adding Protein Powder to this shake really helped keep me full through the day.
- Chia Seed Pudding –
- Oatmeal – As you probably already know Oats is one of the most recommended foods for breastfeeding women. It is packed with goodness and it can be prepared in advance making it easy to use. Ways to make this are:
- OverNight Oats – Soak Overnight with Milk, Greek Yogurt, Chia Seeds, Honey and nuts and Fruits and enjoy the next morning!
- Oat Smoothie – Blend the overnight oats to have something you can drink if you prefer a good smoothie.
- Hot Oats – You can prepare a big batch using rolled oats, milk, cinnamon, maple syrup or honey.
- Greek Yogurt – This can be served with granola, fruits, nuts, maca powder, hemp seeds and lots of goodness. There are so many ways to enjoy a good cup of Greek Yogurt!
- Eggs – This is the best way to up your protein, and my favorite go-to breakfast is scrambled eggs with spinach, sliced Avocado & cubed sweet potato (instead of regular toast) on the side. Eggs help make the meal a round of protein, good fats and good carbs!
Nutritious & Healthy Snacks For Ramadan
- Muffins or Cookies with Oats & Dates – There are tons of recipes out there but whichever one you prefer make sure there is the least amount of sugar and more nutritious ingredients. You can also add Brewers Yeast which is known to help boost supply.
- Date Balls – This is a super popular snack that is filled with goodness. My go to is adding nuts, flax seed, cacao powder and coconut oil to the dates. Zehra has a great recipe in the Healthy Ramadan Guide Listed in the resources.
- Fruits – This is a great way to serve that sweet tooth and also a good way to give your body the nutrients it needs. Watermelon is the best fruit for Ramadan in my personal opinion!
- Almond Butter & Apple – This is a popular snack that is really delicious and filling. You can also use Natural Peanut Butter if you prefer that.
- Mixed Nuts – Nuts are known to boost milk supply and they are a great source of nutrition for nursing mamas. Don’t over-indulge though as they are high in calories!
- Tumeric Latte
Nutritious Foods for Iftar
When breaking the fast it is important not to break with things like Chai Tea, or Roof Afza and Fried Foods. As tempting as it is, it is better to break with something that is nutrient-rich will satisfy the seemingly insatiable hunger and also be easily digested.
- Dates & Water – Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) broke his fast with three dates and water.
- Fresh Fruit – Cut up a bunch of Fresh Fruit or make a fruit salad in advance so that you are not standing in the kitchen for hours preparing it.
- Green Smoothie – This is one of the most hydrating and filling green smoothies I have had. I have not stopped having this for 4 months now almost 3-5 times a week! I find this smoothie great for my digestion, so when I fast I take this at iftar time with before my meal to give you the energy boost you need.
- Soups – This is an amazing starter after your smoothie & Dates. Lentil Soup, Barley/Oats Soup (normally known as Shurba) are very popular in Ramadan. Barley & Oats boost Lactation and also keep you hydrated. You can make a pot of soup to last a few days and you can also add some fennel to help to increase your milk supply.
- Complex Carbs – These are better than simple carbs like rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, etc because they provide energy for a longer period of time without causing that crash. Foods like Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Legumes, Beans, Sprouted Bread are great for optimal body function. My absolute favorite is Sweet Potato. It is known to be great for breastfeeding Mamas. You can make these by either baking them with skin on or cutting them into cubes or fries. I love sprinkling lemon pepper, or paprika, salt & pepper. It’s such a great treat! Another famous recipe is Zehra’s Sweet Potato Sheperd’s Pie.
- Good Fats: Sticking to unsaturated Fats from Fish, Coconut Oil, Avocado, Nuts, Nut Butters are good for us to support metabolism in Ramadan (taken from Zehra’s Healthy Meal Guide).
Great Drinks to Aid Hydration & Boosting Supply
- Regular Water
- Coconut Water
- Drinks Chia Seeds (For Example – Coconut Water + Watermelon + Chia Seeds)
- Healthier Rooh Afza with Chia seeds – The reason this is healthier is due to the use of Rose Water instead of the Rooh Afza Syrup.
- Fruit Smoothies or Green Goddess Smoothie
- Mother’s Milk Tea – I love that this has herbs that you have to brew. It has Red Raspberry Leaf, Alfalfa, Fennel Seed, Blue Vervain, Oatstraw, Raw Stevia and Citrus Peel.
- Fennel Tea – This is one of my favorite teas for digestion other than Ginger Tea. It is great for breastfeeding too!
- Nettle Leaves Tea– Nettles is great for increasing the richness and amount of breastmilk.
Supplements and Boosters
As mothers, our chronic moods are regulated by a number of available nutrients in our bodies. Certain vitamins are essential in keeping us alert, energized and stable as well as certain supplements that can help for breastfeeding mothers:
- Prenatal Vitamins
- B-Complex Vitamins
- Euphoric Herbal Supplements – I have just started taking these. I don’t expect them to replace the food I am not eating. However, I do hope they will assist me pumping which is what I will be trying to do more to save milk so I can leave my baby and go for Taraweeh some nights.
- FenuGreek – I am personally not a fan of this as it causes digestive issues for me and as we all know makes our sweat smell but a lot of mama’s do have this supplement to boost their supply. There are some women who have said it can decrease their supply so as always check with your doctor or a lactation specialist before buying these or maybe just have a “tea” that contains Fenugreek.
Foods/Drinks to Avoid
I know it can be hard not to eat the below foods, but if you can start your meal with a healthier option, and finish off by treating yourself to one of the below you will feel a lot better and digest everything much better. That Post Ramadan Meal Slump is REAL, so we want to avoid it at all costs!
- Fried Foods
- Sugary Foods/Desserts
- Rooh Afza Syrup
- Consuming Unbalanced meals consisting of carbs like Rice, Bread & Pastas without protein and veggies.
Great Resources for Breastfeeding & Fasting in Ramadan
- If you have any concerns or need to speak to a Lactation Consultant please do so. Here is a great resource Kelly Mom Website on Fasting in Ramadan.
- Healthy Ramadan Guide from Zehra AlliBhai. I love Zehra and I have listed some of her daily recipes or recommendations I have on a daily basis She has a FREE Ramadan Guide that you can download here -> https://www.thefitnest.ca/healthy-ramadan
- Basic Fiqh of Fasting┇By Omar Suleiman (Explained at 26 Mins)
- Productive Muslim 30-Day Ramadan Meal and Fitness Plan
- Waleed Basyouni | Ruling regarding fasting for breastfeeding women
- Nutrition by Nazma – 30 Day Ramadan Meal Plan
- IslamQA Answers a Question about Permissibility about Fasting
- Breastfeeding & Fasting in Ramadan – Nursing a Mothers Soul – Aquila Style
- Muslim Ink- Pregnancy, Breastfeeding & Fasting in Ramadan
- 8 Tips to Maintain Low Supply in Ramadan
- Nutrition by Nazma – Fasting During Ramadan As a Breastfeeding Mom
- Fasting Ramadan: A Mothers Guide by Homemade Families
My Experience Breastfeeding & Fasting in Ramadan so Far
- Day 1 – I started off my day at suhoor with vitamins, 2 eggs, 1 avocado, 1 Ezkeil Toast with Almond Butter and 2 Cups of Water, 1 Cup of Oat Banana Date Cacao Smoothie. I can’t say that didn’t make me feel like my insides were about to explode but I knew I needed that nutrition to last me through the day. Alhamdullilah by Allah’s Mercy my day went extremely well. I didn’t feel hungry, I was slightly thirsty but it was easy. When it came to Iftar I wasn’t rushing to eat. I ate sweet potatoes, Baked Chicken Thighs and a Cabbage & Kale Salad for Iftar along with a Green Goddess Smoothie (Recipe below). It was super filling and surprisingly I didn’t crave anything sweet! Nor did I crave tea despite not having any caffeine all day! My only thing was I was exhausted. I was out running errands and cleaning and meal prepping all day though. So due to that, I crashed at 9 pm right after Iftar.
- Day 2 – I started off my day again with the same Suhoor, and just upped my water. This day was harder though. By Midday I was very tired. I am unsure whether the tiredness was because of nursing or mostly due to lack of sleep and fasting. I took a short nap, and I managed to cook Iftar. We had Lentil Soup & Baked Chicken and Salad again and the Green Goddess Smoothie. However this time, I crashed at IFtar time right after having my smoothie, dates and praying Maghrib. I slept for 2 hours and then had my IFtar/Dinner at 11:30. It was then I decided that I needed to take a break due to the exhaustion I felt.
Tips to Keep Up the Energy with Kids
- Naps – This will help keep you energized and give you the rest you need because you most likely will be nursing through the night as well and not getting enough sleep since our nights are so short in Ramadan.
- Activities – Preparing Activities and things the kids can do is a great way to keep them excited and occupied during Ramadan even if its a few minutes at a time during the course of the day. Check out these amazing Ramadan & Eid books for children and activity ideas for kids created by Iman from And Shen She Said.
- Exercise or Get Fresh Air – You may be thinking “I can’t even find the energy to fast, let alone exercise!”. If you can take a walk with the kids every morning, or even just a walk while they go out to play, this will help you get some air, refresh your mind and also enjoy Allah’s gift of Nature. I went to the park with my daughter and baby whilst my eldest was at pre-school. It was so refreshing, it really set the mood for my day Alhamdullilah. Zehra also has some great tips for exercising in her Healthy Ramadan Guide listen below.
- Lots of Dua’a – I remember before Ramadan I made lot’s of Dua’a and the sincere intention to fast and I honestly don’t know what got me through those first 2 days without a decrease in supply. I only took a break due to exhaustion. I know it was Allah’s Mercy on me allowing me to fast even if it was for a few days at a time.
- Don’t over-exert yourself – Believe me, when I say this, you need all your energy to fast and take care of your kids. That itself is enough to drain you, so don’t do what I did and try to clean the whole house and sit in the kitchen for hours or go run several errands whilst fasting. Pace yourself, and ask for help if you can and go slow. Your rest is more important so that you are not crashing at Iftar time and unable to read Quran, pray Taraweeh or do any Ibadaah once the kids are asleep.
Always keep in mind the religious exemptions that nursing women have in Islam. Think about your baby’s needs and also listen to your body always. Don’t force yourself to fast because of what people think. Don’t force yourself to fast because you feel like you are not doing much. Taking care of your baby and your family is an Ibadaah in itself. Ramadan is the month of the Quran and burdening ourselves is not recommended.
Allah is merciful and provided us these exemptions for a reason. So if you can fast that’s amazing! However, if you can’t and need to take a few days off to give your body (and supply) a much-needed break please do that. Some women fast every alternate day and that works better for them. Do what works best for YOU! It’s a huge sacrifice to fast whilst breastfeeding.
I want to end with an amazing reflection on Ramadan by Shannon from Homemade Families – “Ramadan, is not only about the physical fast. Fasting also takes place on the spiritual plane. Fast from the fast-paced world for your baby’s sake. Slow down and retreat deep into the stillness of spiritual practices and a beautiful remembrance. This more than anything is what nourishes mothers and babies, whether or not they fast during Ramadan”.
I pray that you reap the rewards of this beautiful month. Ramadan Mubarak & Please do email me and let me know how your month went for you. And also how this blog post may have helped you 🙂
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