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Ramadan is around the corner, I've been asked several times about how to maintain milk supply during this special month.
I certainly understand.
Doing breastfeeding and fasting Ramadan at the same time is certainly not easy.
Outside Ramadan, I would drink every single time I remember, or get some healthy snacks whenever I feel hungry, no restriction at all.
But during Ramadan, you have a huge shift in your intake. Instead of eating 3x a day, now you are eating heavy meals only during suhoor and iftar.
You no longer carry your water bottle every day during the day.
Obviously, it is normal to feel worried if you can continue producing enough milk while fasting Ramadan.
I've been there, too =).
So, if you still cannot decide whether to fast or not during Ramadan and how to keep your supply up while fasting, here is my little advice.
Warning: this post may contain religious / cultural content.
SHOULD YOU FAST OR NOT DURING RAMADAN?
First, I’d like to remind that breastfeeding moms are allowed not to fast during Ramadan if she's worried about herself or her baby’s well being.
Some Muslim scholars even mentioned that if she's worried about her baby, then it is makrooh to do fasting and she's obliged to break her fast. Read more details here.
Additionally, so far I have found no restriction on the baby’s age (whether they are still exclusively breastfed or have taken some solid).
The only thing that makes difference is whether you are worried / scared that fasting may harm your baby (say, by drastically decreasing your milk supply so that your baby may not get enough nutrients).
I personally didn't fast when my daughter was just turned 6 months old 3 years ago.
Even though she already started solid, she's just in the beginning stage and she is still dependent a lot on breast milk.
As you know, I didn't have abundant milk supply to begin with, my daughter’s weight was close to border line, I was so scared if my supply would drop ( I didn't even dare trying) so not fasting feels like the best decision that I could make for my baby.
So, yeah, it's okay not too fast if you are worried, and don't let what others saying deter your decision.
I understand some people may give negative comments like, “you are so weak, never try bla bla..:, some even say weird comments like: "I'm teaching my child to fast since babyhood [by fasting while nursing baby], if not, later your child will hate fasting”, etc.
"You know what's best for your baby and you."
And just to let you know, Allah loves when we take his rukhsah, as narrated in a Hadith:
"Indeed Allah loves that His rukhsah [concession] is used, just as He hates that sins be violated." (shahih, narrated by Ibnu Hibban and others)
However, if you are still undecided whether you want to fast or not, you can give it a try for one day or two before Ramadan starts and see how it affects your supply.
If you decide not to do fasting, I’d like to remind you that Ramadan is not only month for fasting.
You can still do other kinds of ibaadah:
- reading Qur’an,
- reciting dhikr,
- listening to Quran recitation,
- listening to Islamic speech / podcast / videos.
Most of this can be done even while you are nursing your baby.
You just need to be fully intentional with your time.
Oh, and one more thing, which will give you reward equivalent to reward of those who fast, which is to give iftaar for those who fast. For moms, obviously, make an intention for this as you prepare / cook iftaar for your family.
Now, if you are committed to do fasting, good for you!
May Allah ease your effort for fasting while breastfeeding and pumping for your baby.
I personally did fasting twice while breastfeeding.
First when my first baby was 9 months old (at that time I mixed-feed him and he's doing good with his solid) and secondly, when my second baby was 18 months old.
From my own experience, I know that it is easy to keep worrying if your supply will tank, so let’s dig into several tips to maintain your milk supply during Ramadan.
TIPS TO MAINTAIN MILK SUPPLY WHILE FASTING RAMADAN
(1) Stay hydrated
Try to drink enough water between iftar and suhoor.
It's hard to drink a lot of water at once, especially during suhoor, so try to have a little sip here and there between iftar and suhoor.
I like to keep a water bottle with me every time so that I can drink whenever I go.
I took a sip in between isya prayer and tarawih, also in between 2-rakaah shalah for tarawih.
My water bottle goes with me to bed so that I can drink easily if I happened to wake up before suhoor.
I drink right after I wake up, then after eating while waiting for the azan.
(2) Eat nutritious food.
I know how tempting it is to fill up our tummy with special Ramadan deserts, but don't forget to maintain a balanced diet (carbo, proteins, veggies / fruit) for Iftar and suhoor.
(3) Have a light meal after tarawih prayer.
Since we skip lunch during Ramadan, practically we only eat two times a day.
I personally don't like to eat snacks, and if this is not for my baby, I rather take a rest or read Quran after tarawih.
However, I want to make sure that I received enough calories so I try to eat something light after tarawih.
It does not need to be rice / heavy meals, a small plate of fruits will do.
(4) Don't skip suhoor and eat enough food.
I know some families who just eat ‘Ramadan porridge’ for the suhoor, but come on, you need more energy!
I personally always eat rice, some kind of protein, and veggies.
Every single time.
(5) Consume your milk booster
I don't usually use any milk booster, but for Ramadan I eat dates diligently during Iftar and suhoor.
If you have other trusted milk booster, do use it. Some moms love to have overnight oats for suhoor, you can also try that.
(6) Maintain your pumping routine
I used to pump 4x at work with my first baby, but during Ramadan I want to go home earlier (there's no such thing as early release in my office), so I decided to skip the last pumping (which I usually did around 6 pm), so that I can reach home before Maghrib.
As a result, my supply decreased by 1 oz (this is huge considering I only produced 4 oz total throughout the day, I was mixed-feeding).
With my second baby, I pumped 3x at work plus 2x at home, and I didn't recall having a huge decrease as I experienced with my first.
Lesson learnt here:
Please maintain your pumping routine just like usual.
If you can stick to the same schedule just like you do outside Ramadan, good for you.
But if some of your pumping sessions get clashed with Ramadan routine (say tarawih prayer or suhoor), try to shift it to other times do that you can still maintain equal number of pumping + direct latch daily.
(7) Don't stress it out.
Though it feels contradictory, I’d like to remind you not to freak out for every single drop of pumping amount (don't even look at the number if possible, lol).
Focus on the happiness that you are blessed to be able to fast while breastfeeding, a small supply drop is fine- it will increase later.
Also remember that pumping / breastfeeding is an act of ibadah (because Allah encourages us to do so, right), so be happy that your pumping / breastfeeding reward will be multiplied =), aamiin.
(8) Pray to Allah that He gives you enough milk for your baby.
This is important.
After all, who is this all for?
We breastfeed partly because we are answering Allah’s command to nurse our child.
We do fasting also because Allah.
Trust Him that He will never betray your efforts.
After all things you do to keep your supply up, don't forget to do this super important effort.
Make du’a, pray that you will able to produce enough milk for your baby.
And don't forget to take benefit of making du'a before iftar. This is one of the best time to make du'a.
There's a hadith saying, that Prophet Muhammad shallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam declared:
‘Three men whose dua is never rejected (by Allah) are: when a fasting person breaks fast (in another narration, the fasting person until he breaks his fast), the just ruler and the one who is oppressed.’ [narrated by Ahmad & Tirmidzi, hasan]
I hope this little nugget of advice is helpful for you as you approach the month of Ramadan.
If you think this article may help your friends / family, please share and let others benefit from it.
:: Have you tried fasting Ramadan while breastfeeding / pumping before?
If yes, did your supply doing fine?
What's your best tip to maintain a healthy supply during Ramadan?
If you did this before, feel free to share your story in the comment, I believe it would be very helpful for other first-time mom who's planning to breastfeed while fasting.