When asked if I am fasting while still nursing my 4 month old, who is exclusively on my milk; my reply often gets a jaw dropped expression. Yes, I do, and with absolutely no problem.
Many are worried about the supply being reduced, or milk composition being affected and so I thought to jot down a few points which I gathered after tons of research in this area. I’m a qualified nutritionist, and I don’t derive any conclusion without research from authentic sources, so you can trust me with my words 🙂
Disclaimer: This is totally based on my research in this area and also my personal experience. I’d however recommend you to cross check with your general physician/gynaceologist to see if it’s safe for you to fast.
Firsty, according to the law of Shariah (religion), pregnant and lactating women are EXEMPTED from fasting and can choose to do so if they’re able to keep their health good and if they’re comfortable with it.
So there’s no hard and fast rule here, but I chose to fast because:
1. I’m never motivated to compensate for the missed fasts because there’s no company
2. I love fasting. Yes. Though it might sound very taxing or difficult, I feel fasting rejuvenates me in some way. I’m way more active and focused while I fast 🙂
For all those confused or worried, I’m sharing all the common questions here and answering them individually. If you have any more queries, feel free to ask in the comment section and I’d be more than happy to help.
Q. Will fasting affect the quality and quantity of the milk?
This might surprise you, but no, milk production is not affected, unless the fast exceeds 24hrs, which never happens. I’ve even noticed forceful let down on a couple of occasions while fasting, so I’m sure about this part! Talking about the quality or nutrients, only a few micro nutrients like zinc, phosphorus and magnesium are slightly on the lower side, but the macronutrients remain unchanged.
Q. Will I not be dehydrated?
There’s a possibility of dehydration if your water intake is not maintained well. But if you try to compensate for the liquids during the non-fasting period i.e. From Iftaar to the following suhoor, it can be managed well and will not result in dehydration. However, if you notice any of the signals (mentioned below), it’s best to break your fast.
Q. How will I know I should break or skip my fast?
If you notice any of these symptoms or signals, I would strongly suggest you to not consider fasting since your body may not be prepared for it:
1. Weakness or dizziness
2. Yellow or dark coloured urine
4. Splitting headache
Or if you notice any signs in the baby such as incessant crying due to hunger, constipation or green coloured poop, less playful or active than usual etc.
Note that the chances of this happening are very bleak since milk is produced from blood and storage we already have and it’s the sucking reflex that increases the production, but still, if you observe any of the above, I would strongly advice you to take a break for a day or two and see if fasting is the reason for the occurrence and then judge accordingly.
And guess what? You may also lose upto 1kg per week while breastfeeding and fasting without affecting the nutrient composition of the milk if you make sure to eat healthy. However, if notice weight loss more than 1kg/week, it would be best to discontinue fasting and you should probably see your doctor.
I have, so far, managed my fasts pretty well and never felt low or ill, hence I can say this with assurance that if you eat well and ensure proper hydration, you can fast and stay healthy with ease:)
Thanks for stopping by and reading!