Fasting during pregnancy

22:20 Posted In , , , , , Edit This

Written for BabyCenter India

* Is it safe to fast in pregnancy?
* Are there any risks to my baby's health if I choose to fast?
* What are the things I should keep in mind if I’m fasting?
* I would hate to miss fasting, are there any other options that I could consider?

Fasting is an important part of our customs and religious beliefs. Some religions have special days earmarked for fasting, which may depend on the season, solar and lunar movement or dates announced by their religious leaders or holy calendar.

In addition, some religions have specific weekdays set aside for fasting in honour of a particular deity or a festival. There are also specific days when women choose to fast for the well-being of their husbands and children.

Is it safe to fast in pregnancy?

Many women choose to fast in pregnancy due to their personal beliefs or religious commitments. Theirs is a personal choice, which may have the support of their spouse and family members.

If you plan to fast for even a day or more than three days at a stretch, like the Navratras or Ramadan and during Lent, it is wise to check with your doctor first. She will review your physical health, obstetric history, and other complications, such as gestational diabetes, anaemia or multiple pregnancies before giving you the go-ahead. It is important to ensure you are healthy enough before you opt to fast.

Are there any risks to my baby's health if I choose to fast?

Ideally, you should not stay hungry for long periods during pregnancy. It may make you feel unwell.

Some people suffer from headaches, fatigue, fainting, dizzy spells or severe acidity if they stay hungry for long periods. If you choose to fast and experience, any of these symptoms talk to your doctor right away.

What are the things I should keep in mind if I’m fasting?

• Some religions do not permit any food or even water during the fast; it is wise to speak to your doctor and religious leaders how best you can handle this.
• Some religions allow specific "fasting" foods such as non-cereals foods, fruits, vegetables, milk and juices. Choosing a "fresh fruit and vegetable fast" is the best option, as it will ensure you don’t miss essential nutrients. Avoid deep fried fasting foods that are popular in our country as it only adds unnecessary calories.
• Avoid high sugar foods and caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea during your fast.
• If the weather is hot and humid, ensure you stay indoors during the peak heat hours
• If fluids are permitted ensure you keep sipping water, milk or fruit juices at regular intervals.
• Avoid strenuous work and exercise; try to get some rest during the day.
• Fasting slows down your digestive system, so remember to break your fast slowly. Drink a small glass of juice or water first and then follow it up with a light meal.
• If you suffer from extreme exhaustion, fatigue, palpitations, abdominal cramps or severe nausea and acidity speak to your doctor right away.

I would hate to miss fasting, are there any other options that I could consider?

For many women fasting is an integral part of their lives. They may have strong religious beliefs and customs and may be extremely disappointed at the thought of giving up something they value deeply.

You may want to consider the following options:
• Instead of a daily fast, can you fast on the first and last day of the fasting period?
• Is it possible to fast weekly or on alternate days instead of a daily fast?
• Could you choose a fruit fast instead of giving up all food and drink?
• Are there any exemptions or allowances for pregnant women, such as breaking the fast early or making up by fasting later?
• Is it possible to share the fast with another family member? Some husbands offer to keep the fast for half a day while their wives fast for the other half.
• Could you substitute the fast with other forms of sacrifice such as abstaining from certain foods like non-vegetarian fare, sweets, or salt?
• Some women choose to offer penance by giving up things they enjoy most such as watching movies, shopping or other forms of entertainment. Some also choose a fast of silence or a "Maun Vrat" on certain days. Some choose to donate money they would normally splurge on themselves as an offering.
Remember that you are the best person to take the right decision for both you and your baby.

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