Monday, July 8, 2013

Breastfeeding during Ramadan - Guest Post

Every year around the time of the blessed month of Ramadan there are many moms on our Facebook support group “Breastfeeding in Lebanon” asking if they could fast and still have enough milk for their babies. The answer is not simple as every mom/baby is different, but I hope this article will be helpful and reassuring to everyone!
Can a breastfeeding mom decide NOT to fast?
Fasting is obligatory for all able-bodied adults, however, there are some exceptions. Allah, The Most High says:
((And whosoever is sick or is upon a journey, then the period is made up from other days...)) [Sourah Al-Baqarah: 185]
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are included here and are allowed not to fast during that time if they feel it may negatively affect baby’s health! They may compensate for the missed fasting at a later time when they are no longer pregnant or breastfeeding. They may also pay some expiation for not fasting instead (please consult a scholar or a book of fiqh for exact guidelines).
Will fasting affect milk supply?
And even though Muslim breastfeeding moms are allowed not to fast, many women still

Photo credit:
prefer not to skip this blessed time or at least not to miss too many days. So they naturally worry if their baby will have enough milk during fasting and if the milk will still have all the necessary nutrition (if it will be “good” and fat for the baby).

Breastfeeding studies have shown that fasting during the daylight hours of Ramadan does not affect mom’s milk supply but very strong dehydration (not having enough water in the body) may do so. That is why breastfeeding women during fasting may want to drink as much fluids as possible at night to compensate for the day time dehydration.
Mothers may also decide to stay on a “safe side” and drink water even if fasting. As Kelly Bonyata, a known lactation consultant, mentions in her article: “Some mothers have found that drinking water on fast days is more of a need during the first six months when baby is exclusively breastfed (not taking any food or drink other than breastmilk); once baby is older and taking other foods, it may be feasible to neither eat nor drink during the fast.” (Reference: - great resource for many more links on fasting and breastfeeding!)
What to keep an eye on?
Every mom and baby is different, and while it may be absolutely fine for one mom to fast and exclusively breastfeed at the same time, it may be a real challenge for another one. That is why it’s important to check on the following signs on whether everything is going well.
Signs of dehydration in mother:
1)    Headache or other pain;
2)    Dark yellow strong smelling urine;
3)    Mother feels very weak;
4)    Extreme thirst.
Signs that milk supply may be negatively affected:
5)    Number of wet and dirty diapers of the baby has suddenly decreased.
6)    Baby seems unusually unhappy and fussy. May cry at the breast and even refuse it completely.
7)    Baby seems hungry all the time and wants to breastfeed non-stop (frequent breastfeeding will actually help the mother increase her supply in the best and fastest way! So baby should be always allowed to breastfeed as often and as long as he wants!)
8)    Baby stopped gaining weight or even started to lose some.

** If any of these signs are present the mother may need to re-consider her decision to fast till later time, as her and her baby’s health may be under risk!
Tips for fasting and breastfeeding
Stacey Greaves-Favors, experienced La Leche League Leader and breastfeeding counselor, recommends the following:
1)    Pay attention to what you eat during the evening and pre-dawn hours: have a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables; high fiber and complex carbohydrates are more filling; limit sweets.
2)     Drink, drink, drink when you can! Water is the best, fresh fruit/vegetable juices are also good, but sugary and caffeinated drinks should be avoided or limited.
3)    Eat a meal in addition to suhoor and iftar (never miss suhoor when fasting and breastfeeding!)
4)    Get plenty of rest. An afternoon nap is a great idea. Try also to do most of the work in the morning and relax more in the evening hours.(Reference:
5)    Watch your body and your baby for any signs of problems.

Good luck ladies! And don’t let anyone push you to make a decision to fast or not! This is your and only your decision. Think of everything carefully, weight risks and benefits of each decision and remember that you are the best expert to your baby’s health and you will be able to make the right decision for yourself and your baby!

Nadiya Dragan El-Chiti is a breastfeeding counselor and lecturer. She is a graduate from the University of Maine, Orono (USA), with Master’s Degree in Communication and a certificate from World Vision in coordination with WHO for accomplishing an intensive training in “Exclusive Breastfeeding”.  Mrs. Nadiya  gives seminars and private consultations on breastfeeding essentials, managing work and breastfeeding as well as starting solids and breastfeeding. She also provides personal support and assistance to mothers who already gave birth and are facing challenges in breastfeeding. You can contact Mrs. Nadiya by facebook, Breastfeeding in Lebanon, by mail at or by phone, 961 71 924481.

** This post was originally published in Moms and To Be magazine, issue 54.


  1. Thank you! We are in a huge need of helpful tips on breastfeding in lebanon . Most hospitals do not support breastfeeding alone. My sister just gave a baby and the nurses directly gave him a bottle of baby formula. it is a shame. we salute your hard work and thank you for giving us the infomration on peple who support breastfeeding

  2. u r linked here

  3. So great to have you today! You are such a wonderful mommy!

  4. It never makes a big issue especially in Asia. Women are very fit and they can chest feed in Ramdan too.

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