As Ramadan begins many will have been preparing mentally and physically for long hours of fasting and prayer.
However, Ramadan comes with additional challenges for new parents and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. So, what can new parents do to make the most of Ramadan?
Tips for fasting parents
Mumfluencer Nilly Dahlia shared this insightful post about being a new mum during Ramadan last year, saying: “As mothers we sacrifice so much during Ramadan. Long gone are those hours upon hours of recitation. Long gone are those times to reflect. Long gone are those lie-ins. Long gone are those meet ups with friends for Iftar. We are often riddled with guilt for not devoting as much as we used to, but being a mother? That's ibadah (worship) in itself."
Take naps – since the nights are so short in Ramadan and you’re also trying to feed your baby through the night, naps will help keep you energised and give you the rest you need.
Activities – Preparing activities and things the kids can do is a great way to keep them excited and occupied during Ramadan, even if it’s a few minutes at a time during the course of the day. Check out these amazing Ramadan books for children.
Get outside – try to take a walk with your little one(s) every morning, this will help you get some air, refresh your mind and also enjoy nature.
Be prepared - Make ahead recipes are a saviour in Ramadan. Not only do they help you plan for your day, but it's far more efficient making a recipe in bulk. Also have your fridge and kitchen cupboards stocked up. You could also opt for a food delivery rather than having to rush out to the supermarket (see tip below).
Don’t over-exert yourself – don’t try to clean the whole house or run errands - you need all of your energy to fast and take care of your children. Pace yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Breastfeeding and fasting in Ramadan: is it possible?
Pregnant women, or those who are breastfeeding, are not obliged to fast during Ramadan, although some may still choose to do so. Their fast can be done later in the year instead.
Breastfeeding mothers who wish to fast should check with their GP first. They may also seek religious consult if they feel they are unable to fast and breastfeed.
Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, executive director of the Sharjah Child Friendly Office (SCFO), says: “The intermittent style of fasting during Ramadan can usually provide enough time for a healthy, well-nourished mother to eat and drink between dusk and dawn.
“While many believe that fasting is detrimental to breastfeeding women, fasting is perfectly doable as long as the mother remains hydrated and healthy.”
Tips for fasting while breastfeeding
Drink plenty when you break your fast, but not so much that you have no room for food, getting enough calories is important too.
Do not skip Suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) as your body will need to store as many nutrients as it can, set an alarm clock if needs be.
If you begin to notice signs of dehydration (headaches, feeling thirsty, feeling dizzy or faint), break your fast with water, ideally with some sugar and salt added, to rehydrate you quickly.
Be willing to break your fast if you are feeling unwell.
Can I fast while pregnant?
Dima Al-Sayed, RD says, “My advice as a nutritionist is to ask yourself. No one knows your body like yourself. Some pregnancies are easier than others and it can also depend on the hours that you’re fasting.”
Nutritious and healthy snacks for Ramadan
Remember to take care of your own physical health, whether you are fasting or not. This can be quite tricky especially if everybody else is fasting, but your body and your baby have the same demands whether in Ramadan or not. It is a good idea to stock up on your favourite healthy snacks, such as:
Fresh or dried fruit
Yoghurt - adding oats or chia seeds is a great way to add nutrients.
Try to avoid fried foods, sugar, and unbalanced meals (I.e. containing too many carbs). A balanced diet is the way to go. Keep a food diary to keep track of what you are eating and drinking overnight, so you can make sure that you are getting a good balance of healthy, nutritious foods.