I used to see posts on Instagram of moms not fasting during Ramadan because they were nursing, while other moms were struggling to fast while nursing (but still trying to) - I wasn’t able to have any opinion of it before because I hadn’t experienced it myself, but now that I’m going through it, here’s my experience so far.
Maybe I should also tell you that Jake is now 8 months old, already eating solids, and still breastfeeding on demand - I feel that this (baby’s age, and whether you are exclusively breastfeeding or not) is a huge factor in whether you choose to fast or not during Ramadan.
Before I start, please keep in mind that I’m not a Muslim scholar or a health professional. I’m just a regular Muslim mom sharing her experience of breastfeeding during the fasting month of Ramadan.
On the first day of Ramadan, I made sure to keep myself hydrated during sour and set my intentions for the day. I was a little nervous but I was confident I could get through the day. It would be just like last year I thought - when I was about five months pregnant and I was fasting all of Ramadan. It was good and I had an amazing reflection on the beautiful month.
Today two weeks later I’m still fasting, still breastfeeding and able to get through my days without much exhaustion. There was however a day three days ago that I was on the verge of fainting. Two hours before iftar I felt dehydrated, dizzy, tired, and needed to just lie down. Because it was just two hours before iftar I felt bad breaking my fast so I just waited to complete my fast.
The only thing that went through my mind was the many other moms out there who are less fortunate and had to probably endure what I felt that day, for much longer than I did. I had to be patient, and grateful.
But I knew I needed to be more prepared for the next day and I was consuming more fluids during iftar to prevent another episode of exhaustion & dehydration. I needed to make sure that I have enough energy to get through my day, to fast, and to take care of my baby at the same time.
Sohr has been a bit of a luxury for Tim and I. We aren’t able to set an alarm in fear of waking Jake up so early in the morning. So we would either consume something before bedtime, or if we’re lucky, we would wake up in the middle of the night and have sohr then.
It really is a bit of a challenge to breastfeed while fasting but I feel like if you’re well prepared for it, ensuring that you’re well-nourished, getting enough nutrients during iftar, and is well hydrated, you’re good to go. But always listen to your body, and don’t force yourself to fast if you can’t.
There is indeed an exemption for nursing moms during Ramadan. Taking care of your baby and your family is an ibadaah in itself. Do what works best for you, and if you need to take a few days off (and replace them later) you should do that.
May Allah make it easy and accept all our fasts, and allow us to experience the joy of this upcoming Ramadan.