Spirituality and religion are quite sensitive issues. There are numerous rituals and customs that involve fasting as an essential part. However, for those who are breastfeeding, priorities might change. While some prefer fasting in the usual way, there are other women who may be worried about not producing adequate milk for their little ones. It is a misconception that fasting reduces the fat content of breast milk. It has been, however, proved by studies that one-day fasting does not affect breastfeeding in any way.
Effects of Fasting during Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding generally makes you thirsty, especially during summers. Remember, the baby might ask for more feeds during hot summer days because he or she will be thirstier. Therefore, it is very important to stay hydrated while breastfeeding, even if you are fasting. This can be done by adjusting the amount of fluid intake before and after fast to avoid the feeling of dehydration. Some common affects and symptoms to indicate dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty at short intervals
- Change in colour of urine with a strong smell
- Feeling fainted, tired or weak
- Developing pains in any body part or headache
With any of these symptoms coming up, it is advisable to conclude the fast with water and take adequate rest. However, if you are fasting in a way that you are allowed to have water, try to have ample fluidic diet as you conclude the fast.
Tips for Easy Fasting with Breastfeeding
Fasting and breastfeeding simultaneously can be an issue of concern for many women. Here are some tips to help you fast without worries and still continue breastfeeding.
- A proper breastfeeding diet – Ensure a healthy breastfeeding diet whenever you eat. If you, for any reason, are cutting out specific food items for any reason, make sure to include supplements to cover the nutrient loss.
- Drink more – Try and increase your water intake to avoid dehydration as breastfeeding can leave you thirsty. However, if your fast doesn’t allow you to drink water, ensure you drink adequate amounts before or after your fast.
- Postpone tedious tasks – It is better to avoid or postpone tedious tasks requiring more energy during your fast. It will leave you exhausted and this may affect milk production.
- Take adequate rest – Breastfeeding is a taxing job and gets even harder with fasting. Taking adequate rest can help you save your energy levels to feed your baby.
- Ask for help – Give some time to yourself by staying alone. Ask for help from friends and family for household chores, cooking, children, etc.
Generally, fasts (Navratri and Ramadan) are concluded with a one time meal in a day, which is quite heavy, as it includes fried stuff and can, therefore, also lead to problems like acidity and heartburn. This is because of eating a heavy diet on empty stomach after a long day. Therefore, for breastfeeding mothers, we have certain tips that can help easy fasting during breastfeeding. Take a look.
- Eat more of fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Cut down the intake of caffeinated and aerated drinks, including tea, coffee, and coke. Caffeine, being a diuretic, increases urination and, therefore, might cause dehydration.
- Avoid intake of spicy foods.
- Keep yourself protected from heat to avoid dehydration when you are away from home.
- Build a network of support by interacting with friends or sisters who are also breastfeeding.
- Take a break from cooking.
- Cut down the intake of dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt as they increase the production of mucous, i.e. thickening of fluids in the body.
- If you are a working mother, take adequate rest in between heavy work flow.
- Conclude the fast by taking water or a glass of juice and something sweet to bring the sugar level back to normal.
- Ensure you get adequate sleep at night. If, however, you have been up since early morning for prayers, you can take short naps during the day.
Fasting for a day does not affect breastfeeding in any way. However, it is a well known that breastfeeding is a strenuous task and huge amounts of energy and nutrients get used up in the process. So, if you are fasting regularly during the lactating period, it is better to have a nutritious diet on non-fasting days to avoid health problems that might come up due to loss of energy and nutrients during breastfeeding.