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      Fasting during pregnancy - How do health and belief go hand in hand?


      Fasting during pregnancy - How do health and belief go hand in hand?

      Updated on 4 April 2023

      Religious belief is something that people don’t fiddle with. And, keeping the respect of each other’s rituals, customs and beliefs are what being human is. Fasting is one such belief worldwide that many religions observe to show sacrifice and pay tribute to their deity. It can be a day’s fast, a week-long or in some customs might extend to a month. But is fasting good if you are pregnant? Can you practice fasting without compromising on your well-being and faith? Let’s first understand if fasting has any kind of effect on your baby.

      Does fasting affect baby during pregnancy?

      Many studies suggest that though scientifically fasting doesn't pose any threat to the baby and cannot be a reason for low birth weight, but still a mom should understand that her baby in the womb is completely dependent on you for his/her nutrition and hydration too. So, your practice of fasting may harm your baby but in what way is not clearly defined. So, experts recommend not to observe fasting while you are pregnant especially if you are under diabetes or develop one during pregnancy (Gestational Diabetes). Fasting over a longer period of time or in high frequency in pregnancy can lead to multi- Nutritional deficiency & thereby can be a cause of birth defects or pre-term birth.

      Can fasting cause miscarriage in early pregnancy?

      Early pregnancy is still safer as compared to the risk involved in the 22nd to 27th week i.e. in the second trimester. During this phase energy requirement of both the mother & the baby in the womb increases, and manifold and fasting can be more harmful. Thus, fasting in pregnancy second trimester is a big No.

      How long can you fast while pregnant?

      Although fasting in pregnancy in Islam is also prohibited and women are exempt from a month-long fast but still if your faith makes you go for it, then consider taking a day or two of breaks in between to balance off all the lost nutrition or to avoid falling under dehydration. If you are fasting in pregnancy third trimester, then you need to be exceptionally careful as this is the time when you need extra 200 calories and an ample amount of rest to counter low energy levels.

      The change that you make in your dietary habits will take time to absorb. It might give you constipation, heartburn or nausea. Therefore, the right choice of food and adjustment in timings is very important. Don’t hesitate to consult your doctor before you plan to go on for a fast.

      Here are 5 pieces of advice that can help you go ahead.

      Salt is the secret: You must have been keeping ‘’No Salt” fasts until now but not anymore, to rule out the danger of weakness. To keep the peace between both mind and soul, you can use rock salt instead.

      Buzzing food off isn’t the option: Starving will lead to anaemia, acidity, or headaches and will also interfere with the vitality of the baby. Instead of distressing yourself by not eating anything, why not eat nutrient-rich “Allowed” foods in fast at small intervals.

      Choose your food wisely: Many times, the fasts become feasts with lots of oily and deep-fried food causing in-digestion or acidity; please refrain yourself. As an alternative, go for healthy options like milk, fresh fruits, dried fruits, and nuts which have plenty of energy.

      Dehydration- a big no-no!: The baby depends upon you even for its hydration; make sure to up your liquid intake in any form of fresh juices, milk, coconut water, or plain water, with mild caffeine consumption.

      Never stay in doubts: Consult your doctor, before keeping a fast. While it is common to have relaxed pregnancies all around, some can turn up unpredictable where even a little stress causes complication. Although the doctor has said yes! If you feel any discomfort during the fast (even mild), ring up your doctor immediately.

      Risk Alerts: In the case of Diabetes, the mother must not practice fasting because staying on an empty stomach for a longer period will drop your insulin level. Being the most crucial weeks, it is also not advisable in the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy to keep fast. Also, without the required nutrition, the mother may expose herself to fatigue, infections, or immunity drop which can further lead to low birth weight, premature labour, and other problems.

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      Written by

      Priyanka Verma

      Priyanka is an experienced editor & content writer with great attention to detail. Mother to a 10-year-old, she's skille

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